360 photography at camp

This is the third year teaching at the UK NRES (Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences) summer camp. This course was a one-day GPS and GIS exercise to map the interpretive trails around base camp. With seventeen undergraduates and their mobile devices, we split into two teams. One team focused on the trail network and GPS mapped trail alignment and intersections. A second team mapped points of interests and interpretive sites along the main hiking trail up to the fire tower.

We worked in the camp classroom with QGIS, the leading free and open source GIS software, to make all of our maps. We imported our GPS data as KML or GPX formatted text files, which we then edited in QGIS. We created a shaded relief base map from DEM data (using the Terrain plugin!) over which we laid the cleaned trail data. We finally exported a GeoTIFF which could be loaded on mobile devices and used to locate position without requiring a cellular data connection.

Link to interactive map (6 MB)

We also touched on how to make interactive 3D maps. QGIS offers one of the richest environments to experiment with GIS data. We introduced a plugin, qgis2threejs, that is perhaps the easiest method to make online 3d maps. Take a look!

Robinson Forest

Robinson Forest Camp trail map

Robinson Forest Camp trail map

Last year, we GPS mapped the road to the fire tower. During the first year, we spent time making a static bird’s eye view of the main trail up to the fire tower. Since the first year, some students have asked about updating the map in the trailhead kiosk. It is a block diagram of the trail and its style is dated. This year, we discovered that theqgis2threejs QGIS plugin can make similar block diagrams. Maybe one year we can get one of these maps in the kiosk!

3D map with 2014 aerial photography (25 MB)

Newport levee system

Dayton levee system

Dayton, Kentucky depends on a levee system to prevent flooding by the Ohio River. From this overlook at Eden Park in Cincinnati, Ohio, we can clearly see in the left half of the image how much the city is protected. The inside channel of the meander (the Kentucky side) historically had a much lower slope created by the mechanics of stream flow. As stream flow congested and slowed on the inside channel, sediment dropped from the river that mounded into a point bar and usable land.  However, periodic high river flows would inundate the whole point bar and the challenge became flood management. Dayton’s point bar was secured by this artificial levee system that is only so high. Our engineering of cities depends on knowledge of climate change.

We have created a zoomable photograph that you can use to inspect this levee:

Full-screen view of the photograph.


Eagle Rock climbing area in Boulder City canyon

We’ve made a series of 3D views for Wolverine Publishing’s climbing guidebook for Boulder Canyon, Colorado. This image shows Eagle Rock and was made with high-resolution aerial photography and LiDAR elevation data. The data was supplied by Boulder Canyon Climber Community.

You can keep up-to-date with our various projects in our blog section of the site.

If you’re planning on hiking in the Daniel Boone NF, Great Smoky Mountains NP, Cumberland Gap NHP, or in Kentucky state parks, we might have a map and digital geodata for you. Check out our shop for maps and data you can purchase online.


Looking for a weekend in the woods, alone and untroubled by maintaining your social media landscape? Consider wandering into a landscape of sandstone cliffs, river fords, and bear in the Big South Fork and North Daniel Boone Country.


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