Sheltowee Trace interactive mobile map

Locate yourself on the ST

We’ve updated our map of the Sheltowee Trace on our ST site: sheltoweetrace.com/hike. The map has symbols for official recreation sites and trails for the Daniel Boone National Forest, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, and Cumberland Falls and Natural Bridge State Resort Parks. Of course, it has the ST and mile markers from the northern terminus.

Since we deployed this map last year, we have updated the Leaflet and MapBox JS to make the work with a GPS-enabled device as long as you have a cellular data connection. The points of interests and trails are clickable with useful travel information.

Our next goal is to fill out the map with more scenic destinations and include more photographs. Let us know if you have any suggestions.

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Sheltowee Trace South, 2015

Six 19" x 27" pages

Six 19″ x 27″ pages

We’ve finished our Sheltowee Trace South, 2015 map. This rich color topographic trail map includes almost the entire Big South Fork National Recreation and River Area and the southern half of the Daniel Boone National Forest.

Map is six 19″ x 27″ pages and is available laminated. Check it out!

Kentucky transitions into fall

MODIS images of changing seasons in Kentucky, 2013

MODIS images of changing seasons in Kentucky, 2013

 

These satellite images are from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments on two satellites, Aqua and Terra. MODIS captures 36 electromagnetic wavelength bands to measure atmospheric water vapor, ozone, aerosols, land fire, surface temperature, and many other important variables of global climate. These images are visible light and clearly show the change in deciduous canopy cover within roughly a month of time. Spatial resolutions are between 250 m to 1 km.

Big South Fork in Early Fall

The first weekend of the October saw us in the Big South Fork country enjoying a dramatic change in weather. The first day was warm and sunny, but as evening set, the winds increased and rustled the treetops throughout the night. The morning was overcast, mild, and as we began our descent into the Big South Fork at Blue Heron, the sky thickened into sweeping rolls of stratocumulus clouds.
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Rock Creek Loop, a cool summer hike

Twin ArchesHiker Big South Fork Map
Distance: 6.6 Miles round-trip
Difficulty: ++
Scenic Views: +++
Elevation Relief: 520ft ^
Ownership: Big South Fork, NPS

Big South Fork Trail Map: $12

Hike the scenic crossroads of the John Muir Trail and Sheltowee Trace. Rock Creek Loop is a 6.6-mile loop in our Big South Fork Guide. Half of this loop follows the cool waters of Rock Creek, a trout stream with small stretches of swift water and deep pools for summer refreshment.

Hikers weave through a forest dominated by old, stately Hemlock and American Beech trees with grassy, wildflower areas along the stream bank. The trail is a rugged footpath with a bridge across Massey Branch. Numerous backcountry campsites along the loop offer great weekend backpacking options with side trail options into Pickett State Park and the Daniel Boone National Forest.

Rock Creek Loop

El Niño to make the mountains colder and drier this winter

Predicting climate in the old days relied upon observing cues in nature. The Farmers’ Almanac finds that people looked at woolly worms in late summer in get a sense of winter. The more black hairs on the worm, the colder and wetter the winter. Of course woolly worms come in all configurations of black and orange colorings so how could a worm’s coat predict winter? It can as an analogy;  you look at the forecast to decide which coat you’re going to wear before leaving home. I think you would want to wear a black coat as opposed to a white coat on a very cold and sunny day to maximize the amount of solar energy you could absorb. Woolly worms just plan far ahead.

Today we track global changes in wind patterns and sea surface temperatures to predict weather conditions. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center has issued a climate forecast for this winter based on the El Niño pattern emerging in the Pacific Ocean.

Below are winter predictions for the U.S. indicating greater or lesser chances for departures in average winter temperatures and precipitation.

temps

precip

El Niño is a departure from average sea surface temperatures created by a change in the intensity and direction of equatorial winds. In a normal period, strong easterly trade winds blow across the Pacific and upwell cold, nutrient rich waters on the west coast of South America. These same winds also pile up water in the western Pacific so that the sea surface is about 2 feet higher at Indonesia than at Ecuador.

Normal Sea Surface Temperatures in °C

In an El Niño cycle, the winds are not as intense and warmer sea surface temperatures extend further to east. This change has a global impact on weather with increased precipitation on the west coast of South America and the south & east coasts of North America. Warmer than normal conditions also occur at higher latitudes in North America and over the Pacific ocean.

El Niño Sea Surface Temperatures in °C

El Niño Sea Surface Temperatures in °C

Sept 12: Sheltowee Trace Meeting in Winchester

The Future of the Trace: Sept 12, 2009

Join a group of trail enthusiasts and forest & park officials at the Daniel Boone NFS headquarters in Winchester to discuss the future of the Sheltowee Trace. We need as many committed folks as possible to attend. Voice your support for the Sheltowee Trace.

If you would like to attend, you can RSVP here with a comment so we can plan for breakfast and lunch!

Time: 9:30am
Where: Clark County Extension Office (map below)
1400 Fortune Dr
Winchester, KY 40391-8292
(859) 744-4682

Preliminary Agenda

9:30 to 10:00 – Meet and Greet – Coffee, Juice and Bagels, Donuts provided.

10:00 Opening Comments

  • Frank Beum, Forest Supervisor, Daniel Boone National Forest
  • Steve Handley, Big South Fork National Recreational Area, National Park Service
  • Carey Tichenor, Ky State Parks and Recreation
  • Steve Barbour, Interim Executive Director, The Sheltowee Trace Association

10:30 – Updates on the Current Condition of The Trace in each Ranger District and Plans for the next 12 to 24 months

10:45 – Current Management Plan Development

  • Federal and State Funding Levels
  • Challenges of a Muti-use Trail
  • Current on-going volunteer programs
  • Short Term and Long Term Maintenance Issues
  • Trace Blazing – Signage
  • Land Acquisition
  • Trace Relocation
  • Maintaining Easements
  • Development of the Volunteer Base
  • Promoting The Trace across the state

Following these discussion will be a session on forming the Sheltowee Trace Association, a non-profit dedicated to promoting and protecting this National Recreation Trail.

Map:Here

Rainy May: on track to be the wettest May ever

Spring is typically a wet month. However over the past week, Eastern Kentucky has experienced unusual rainfall amounts. The record for the month is 10.78 inches in 2004; and no other year has been above 10 inches for May. The only year that saw over 9 inches of rainfall for May was in 1995. May during 1983 and 1984 were the only times over 7 inches of rainfall.

From the National Weather Service in Jackson, Kentucky:

"2 TO 5 INCHES OF RAIN HAS FALLEN ACROSS EASTERN KENTUCKY DURING THE
MONTH OF MAY. THIS IS OF INTEREST...SINCE WE ARE ONLY ABOUT ONE
QUARTER OF THE WAY THROUGH THE MONTH. HEAVY RAINFALL IS VERY
POSSIBLE AS WE HEAD INTO MOTHERS DAY WEEKEND AND COULD PUSH RAINFALL
AMOUNTS UP ANOTHER INCH OR TWO.

THE AVERAGE PRECIPITATION FOR THE MONTH OF MAY AT THE JACKSON
WEATHER OFFICE IS 4.92 INCHES. WE HAVE ALL READY RECORDED 4.12
INCHES OF RAINFALL AS OF THIS MORNING AT 7AM. IT IS TOO EARLY TO TELL
...BUT WE ARE CERTAINLY ON TRACK TO HAVE ONE OF THE RAINIEST MAYS
EVER. THE RAINIEST MAY OCCURRED IN 2004 WHEN THE JACKSON WEATHER
OFFICE RECORDED 10.78 INCHES FOR THE MONTH. THIS WAS THE ONLY MONTH
OF MAY THAT OVER TEN INCHES OF RAIN FELL. MAY OF 1995 HAD 9.91
INCHES AND WAS THE ONLY MONTH WITH OVER 9 INCHES RECORDED. THE NEXT
HIGHEST TOTALS WERE OVER 7 INCHES AND THAT OCCURRED IN ONLY TWO
YEARS...1983 AND 1984.

HERE ARE RAINFALL TOTALS FROM EASTERN KENTUCKY COOPERATIVE WEATHER
STATIONS AND AUTOMATED SURFACE OBSERVING SYSTEMS AS OF 7 AM
EDT...FOR THE MONTH OF MAY 2009.

LOCATION         /   COUNTY     /     PRECIPITATION

BARBOURVILLE         KNOX              4.38  INCHES
BAXTER               HARLAN            3.85  INCHES
BEATTYVILLE 4N       LEE               3.68  INCHES
BIG SHELBY           PIKE              3.01  INCHES
BOONEVILLE 1SE       OWSLEY            4.49  INCHES
BUCKHORN LAKE        PERRY             2.80  INCHES
CARR CREEK LAKE      KNOTT             2.73  INCHES
CAVE RUN LAKE        ROWAN             2.28  INCHES
CLAY CITY 1WNW       POWELL            2.77  INCHES
CLOSPLINT 4ESE       HARLAN            4.55  INCHES
COLO                 PULASKI           3.98  INCHES
CRESSY               ESTILL            2.59  INCHES
DRAFFIN              PIKE              3.54  INCHES
EZEL                 MORGAN            3.31  INCHES
GIMLET               ELLIOTT           2.60  INCHES
HARLAN 1S            HARLAN            3.80  INCHES
HARLAN STATE POLICE  HARLAN            2.95  INCHES
HAZARD WATER         PERRY             3.71  INCHES
HAZARD               PERRY             3.70  INCHES
HAZARD STATE POLICE  PERRY             2.95  INCHES
HEIDELBERG 2N        LEE               4.05  INCHES
BAXTER               HARLAN            3.85  INCHES
INEZ 2E              MARTIN            3.78  INCHES
ISLAND CITY          OWSLEY            5.16  INCHES
IVEL                 FLOYD             2.27  INCHES
NWS JACKSON          BREATHITT         4.12  INCHES
JEREMIAH 1S          LETCHER           3.11  INCHES
KINGDOM COME ST PARK HARLAN            3.12  INCHES
LONDON CORBIN APT    LAUREL            4.46  INCHES
MONTICELLO 3NE       WAYNE             4.00  INCHES
MOUNT STERLING 5N    MONTGOMERY        2.41  INCHES
MOUNT VERNON         ROCKCASTLE        2.77  INCHES
ONEIDA               CLAY              4.54  INCHES
PAINTSVILLE 1E       JOHNSON           3.55  INCHES
PIKEVILLE ST POLICE  PIKE              2.05  INCHES
PRESTONSBURG 3NW     FLOYD             4.09  INCHES
QUICKSAND            BREATHITT         3.52  INCHES
RELIEF               MORGAN            3.18  INCHES
ROGERS               WOLFE             2.82  INCHES
SALYERSVILLE         MAGOFFIN          4.28  INCHES
SANDY HOOK           ELLIOTT           2.67  INCHES
SKYLINE              LETCHER           3.20  INCHES
SLADE 5NE            POWELL            2.86  INCHES
SOMERSET 2N          PULASKI           3.74  INCHES
STANTON 2W           POWELL            2.88  INCHES
STEARNS 2S           MCCREARY          5.09  INCHES
VICTORY 5NW          LAUREL            4.13  INCHES
WEST LIBERTY 3NW     MORGAN            2.67  INCHES
WEST LIBERTY 11NW    MORGAN            2.57  INCHES
WHITESBURG           LETCHER           2.50  INCHES
WHITESBURG 2SE       LETCHER           3.21  INCHES
WILLIAMSBURG 1NW     WHITLEY           5.14  INCHES

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE AT JACKSON WOULD LIKE TO THANK ALL THE
DEDICATED COOPERATIVE WEATHER OBSERVERS FOR THEIR TIMELY REPORTS."

(raw) 3D map of Eastern Kentucky

As we gear up for the Sheltowee Trace topographic map, I thought it would be interesting to see if a complete 3d map of the ST could be printed. Unfortunately, it would have to be a huge sheet of paper to get the detail necessary for a good map. But as an online viewer, I see potential. This sample is a raw render output and you can see well the basic physiography. Now we just need to add trails, transportation, labels, etc….nothing too much, just about 6,000 sq. mi. for the Daniel Boone NF.

3D map
Explore this map through a zoomable flash map

Why we use aerial photography

Many customers ask us why we use aerial photography. Often it’s hard for some readers to understand because of terrain inversion. Let’s take a Q&A with a real customer:

Customer, “Hi guys. I just wonder if anyone has ever discussed with you the fact that the shading on your maps appears to be reversed. That is, the high points appear like low points and vice versa, if one is looking at the map oriented to north. If one turns the map around, so it is oriented to south, then everything looks correct. So, my guess is simply that the shading is on the wrong side of the ridges. ”

Our response, “Thanks for asking a question that has popped up a few times. In the mapping biz, it’s called terrain inversion and it is a problem sustained by tradition. Before aerial photography, most terrains were shaded as if the sun was in the upper-left corner. This was established as cartographic tradition because we read from upper-left to lower-right.

This worked fine until aerial photography became used as base maps. In the northern hemisphere, and especially at our latitude, the sun is never shines from the north. All of our shadows fall from south to north, completely opposite to how they’re depicted on most conventional maps. Cartographers in the southern hemisphere think we’re crazy up here moving the sun around to accommodate tradition at expense of reality. But they have the advantage of sun always being in the upper quadrants, thus giving the type of illumination you’re probably used to.

But we use aerial photography in most of our maps, because it is reality and at the right scale is far superior to an artificial hillshade in our opinion for couple reasons. You can see areas that are really in shadow, which indicate different plant communities. You can see canopy type, density, and other indicators for type of forest. If you’re a photographer, these images show depth and lines of shadow, helping you predict the kind of light you want for a photo. Finally, if you have take an aerial photo up high to orient, you can do so by shadows.

Detail from our Big South Fork map with aerial photography. Note the north facing cliffs are in shadow, just as in found in the wild.

So in my defense, I say it’s all about sunlight. I understand your problems and trust me, it has stirred the anger of my peers at cartography conferences. We’ve been flamed on blogs for this apparent flaw, but in our humble opinion, an aerial photo is not the problem, it’s tradition.

It’s sounds like you have a lot of experience with maps, and I respect your opinion. However, I think if you get used to aerial photography, you’ll find distinct advantages. Also in defense of tradition, I did illuminate our recent map, Trail Atlas of the Great Smokies from the NW. That map does not use aerial photography so it was an easy decision.”

Big South Fork Trails

The trails in the Big South Fork are were not impacted by the ice storm that hit the northern portions of the Daniel Boone National Forest. Hikers have reported excellent trail conditions, though fording Rock Creek or the Big South might be a little cold and water levels high this time of year.

Big South Fork Trail Guide, 2nd Edition

New 1:127k Trail MapWe’ve added a new map and packaging to our Big South Fork trail guide. Our new map is a 1:126,720 scale trail map of the entire Big South Fork area including the trails around Stearns in the Daniel Boone National Forest and the new horse and multi-purpose trails along Darrow Ridge.

The map is sized at 13.5 x 18.5 inches and is 2-spot colors, black and a metallic ink that looks similar to anodized aluminum. The metallic ink has the useful property of shining under a headlamp and makes reading the trails easier in low light conditions. The map has a 2-minute GPS graticule for navigation and geocaching. The map shows all recreation areas for park and adjoining public lands from Straight Creek in the Daniel Boone NF to Peters Ford in the Big South Fork. On the reverse, we have our classic 3D map of the park.

Old Trail SignFor the new packaging, we’ve added a 2-color cardstock overwrap that makes a more impressive retail display. The wrap describes the historic trail signs that you might find in the Big South Fork. Gone are the rustic old wooden stencil-painted signs. Over the next year, the park will replace the original trail signage with new blazes and trailhead markers. The blazes are recycled plastic tags that indestructible and hardly distracting since they’re hard to see. While I prefer the old wooden signs, I understand the new signage will be easier to maintain and is more informative at trailheads.

Big South Fork

Grand Gap Loop – John Muir Trail

Twin ArchesHiker Big South Fork Map

Distance: 6 Miles round-trip from Leatherwood Ford
Difficulty: ++
Scenic Views: ++++
Elevation Relief: 525ft ^

Ownership: Big South Fork, NPS

Google to trailhead & coordinates

Big South Fork Trail Map: $12

The hike from Leatherwood Ford along the John Muir Trail to the Grand Gap Loop trail is one of the most scenic river walks in the park. Contrasting the views of wildflowers and Fall Branch creek are the gorge overlooks found along the 4 mile stretch of Grand Gap Trail that hugs the cliffline above the river. The notable vista is the Angel Falls overlook and many deep pools in the river for swimming and fishing. You might find other happy day hikers and backpackers who shuttle from Bandy Creek Campground and hike the 12 miles from Leatherwood Ford back to the campground.

Photographs