Pine Mountain Canopy Tour

Canopy zipline tour mapping assignment

Canopy zipline tour mapping assignment

What wild weekend and mapping task! Boyd led an undergraduate GIS class at the University of Kentucky and endeavored to map and analyze environmental tourism assets on Pine Mountain. During discussions with Pine Mountain State Resort Park, we discovered a canopy zipline tour, one of the first in the state, was being installed in the park. [Read more…]

Town Branch Trail and Density of Healthy Canopy

Which property has the healthiest canopy?

Which property has the healthiest canopy?

Town Branch Trail is a developing shared-use trail connecting downtown Lexington with the city’s outer countryside. The exercise shows the completed and funded phases for the trail, and assesses the extent and health of trees along the trail.

Using National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP)  2012 imagery an NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) was created and then shown as a ratio per parcel area. After viewing the initial results, a student said, “This is a realtor’s map!” and then quickly visited the PVA website to compare property values to its ‘green index.’

Mapping Kentucky’s Wildland Fires with Satellite Imagery

KentuckyWildfires_2012-2014Kentucky has damaging wildland fires, while also using prescribed burns to manage habitat. An unfortunate statistic tells us that most wildland fires in Kentucky are from arson.

This student lab uses MODIS Active Fire Detection products and Landsat 8 near-infrared bands to locate and analyze the largest fires between April 2012 and October 2014. I hope to get point locations of smaller fires from Kentucky Division of Forestry to compare with satellite-based observations.


Students Like Field Trips

Arboretum Woods Poster

Arboretum Woods Poster

What can students do with a smartphone, ArcMap, and a linux server? More than just have fun outside!

15 student teams from two GIS courses at the University of Kentucky mapped, measured, and photographed 603 trees in the Arboretum Woods. Each team (which adopted colorful team names) was given (approximately) an acre zone. They used common mobile devices and low-cost apps to GPS and photograph the most significant trees. 

Each team made a poster and presented them during a 2014 International GIS Day event in the Thomas Poe Cooper building on UK’s campus. It was widely attended and praised for the strength of student teams’ achievement. 

UK_Arboretum_WebMap_LinkSince students photographed each tree, we made an interactive map that shows these photos and can be used for geolocation while in the woods. Using Leaflet, GeoJSON, and a Linux server, student SWEB accounts host data that feeds this interactive map: Look at trees now!

Sheltowee Trace online map

screenshot_smallWe’ve started an online map for the Sheltowee Trace, because it keeps getting longer with each new season. This month, it is 319 miles (and some change) long.

This map is mobile compatible and will locate you on the trail if your device has GPS. Try it out and tell us what you think.

The map includes the new extension from Leatherwood Ford to Honey Creek.

Johnson Highway Day Map

Click to open map

Click to open map

On September 20, 2014 a downtown Lexington neighborhood hosted a block party and potluck. Raffles were held, which indeed included some outrageGIS mapping hiking maps. This map is entirely custom and shows only sidewalks and the location of the block party. The map layers two different tile sets. The minimal aspect focuses one’s attention to pedestrian modes of travel, since block parties kick out the cars.

University of Kentucky Alumni Map

UoKy Alumni Districts

Click to view

A slippy map that shows alumni districts for the University of Kentucky. A shapefile of the districts was simplified with polygon edges snapped to align and then converted to a GeoJSON file. Tried to convert to TopoJSON with the hope to minimize file size, but unfortunately with little luck. District centroids were exported and converted to marker icons. A simple example of open source mapping.

More 3D maps

Open 3D map

Open draft of map in browser.

We’re almost finished with a 38″ x 13″ map of cabins and ziplines in Cliffview Resort. This is an unusual map, since it is a bird’s eye view with latitude and longitude as the index grid for locating cabins and other destinations. The base map is an ArcGIS terrain dataset with National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) aerial photography draped over a rendered TIN surface in ArcScene. The maps was then composited and illustrated in Photoshop and Illustrator.

Boone Trace, A Kentucky Frontier Trail

Interactive map

Draft of interactive map, try it out.

In 1775, Daniel Boone and his party blazed a route into Kentucky and created the pioneer settlement, Boonesborough. The Trace is often confused with the Wilderness Road, since they follow the same route through southern Kentucky, but the Trace predates the Wilderness Road. Boone established the main road through the Kentucky mountains and into the outer Bluegrass. That road would later be known as the Wilderness Road. Boone Trace leaves the Wilderness Road south of Richmond, Kentucky and travels north to Fort Boonesboro.

Today, plenty of historical monuments exists along drivable portions of the Trace. describes, “There is a monument at the Daniel Boone Park in Flat Lick, Ky. Emblazoned on it are these words which pretty much say it all–   ‘No other trail is of greater historical significant to the founding of Kentucky and opening of the west (than Boone Trace).'”

This map attempts to show a driving tour of the Trace and aggregates many of the cultural and historical destinations once could visit today. It was designed for mobile web browsers and uses Leaflet to power the interactivity.

Flash-type interactive map, 2004

Flash-type interactive map, 2004

It’s pretty amazing to see how much dynamic web mapping has changed over the past decade. Before, we had Flash content and static layouts, as illustrated by the Elkhorn City Living Cemetery project. Today, we have data-rich maps that take a fraction of the time to create.

Working on a Cumberland Falls map

July draft of Cumberland Falls trail map

July draft of Cumberland Falls trail map

This July we have started a topographic trail map for the Cumberland Falls State Resort Park. The map will use aerial photography, 20-foot elevation contours, and GPS mapped trails. This two-sided 13.5″ x 19″ full-color map will show the entire park and connecting trails into the Daniel Boone NF, including Dog Slaughter Falls. This map is at 1:15,000 scale. The second map will zoom into the central area of the park and show trails at 1:5,000 scale. We anticipate this will be an awesome map, especially when used under a moonbow.

2013 Veterans Park Mountain Biking Trail Map

4.8-mile loop trail & out and back all on singletrack.

In tribute to Bike Lexington month, we’ve made a new map for beginning mountain bikers. If you’re new to trail riding and want tight, banking turns on fast, easy trail, then visit’s Lexington’s Veteran’s Park.

We created this map as a demonstration of small-area map making. We first walked the trail with a Trimble GPS unit this past winter to accurately locate the trail. We then used Kentucky’s new aerial photography and LiDAR elevation data to make 5-foot contours and heads-up digitized canopy coverage. We also pulled in the impervious and waterbody layers from the new Open Data Portal from LFUCG. This is all GIS data that has been created and/or made available in the past six months.

More nerd alert. The recent availability of small-scale mapping data is awesome. We thought we’d try to see how good this data is and make trail elevation profiles, which is included with this map. While the elevation profile is not perfect at this scale (with perhaps a +/- 8 ft height error for any given point on the profile), it gives a good distance measurement and represents well the relative slope of the trail. Since the vertical scale is not the same as the horizontal scale, the profile exaggerates the pumps & humps a rider faces…which means, the slopes are exaggerated.

Enjoy and tell us what you think.

Panama Adventure Hiking Elevation Profiles

Elevation profiles for adventure hiking.

Elevation profiles for adventure hiking.

Looking for a spring adventure? We designed a website and these elevation profiles for a client that creates custom tour packages for Boca Chica, Panama. Below are descriptions of a few tours one could enjoy before the rainy season.

Amistad Adventure Trek
Hike a truly unique and extreme jungle trail from the cloud forests to the Caribbean lowlands in this united National Park of Panama and Costa Rica. A 42-kilometer trek with 2,500 meters terrain relief that you hike in 3 days.

Comarca Adventure Trek
Explore remote forested regions and Caribbean slopes of the Panama cordillera. A 46-kilometer trek with 1,300 meters terrain relief that you hike in 4 days. The trail is filled with amazing views, steep climbs and descents as you traverse the footpaths of the Ngabe Indian Reservation.

When you need a new adventure,

Carter Caves Trail Map

Carter Caves State Resort Park Trail Map. 1:16500 scale with Tygarts State Forest. Click to download PDF.

This topographic map shows official trails in the Carter Caves State Resort Park and neighboring Tygarts State Forest. The map contains detailed trail descriptions and an inset map for the trails around the campground and lodge. A one-color free version of the map is available at the park visitors center. A full-color map is available for purchase or download a digital copy here.

Rephotographing Lexington’s Streetscapes

Rephotographing Lexington’s Streetscapes. Click to view Google Map.

A collaborative final project for GEO 172, Introduction to Human Geography, Fall 2012, BCTCS

The class was tasked with rephotographing the streetscapes of downtown Lexington captured by Asa Coleman Chin in 1920-1921. Sanborn maps of the areas Chin photographed are provided as a reference.

Students then researched Lexington newspapers for information about city life during the period 1907-1921. Historic themes of urban improvement, segregation, and riots emerge. Students’ photographs & research show monumental change in areas of civic life, but often little change in many areas of the city’s built environment.

Sources: Kentuckiana Digital Library & Lexington Public Library

2012 Bike Lexington Map

This map is freely available at local bike shops and as an electronic download.

We are proud to announce the release of the Bike Lexington Map which locates bicycling facilities and preferred routes in Lexington, Kentucky. The purpose of the map is to show existing facilities (such as bike lanes and shared-use paths) and preferred routes (wider roads with low volume and/or low speed)  to encourage cycling and help cyclists plan trips through the city.

This 27″ x 39″ free, full-color map can be found at local bicycling shops and the Bread Box’s Broke Spoke and West 6th Street Brewing. UK students can pick up the map at Wildcat Wheels. Other outlets are sure to be added.

Digital PDF copies are offered in a few versions.

  1. The official map (7 megabytes) is the version printed.
  2. A map with aerial photography (49 megabytes) shows the built environment and surrounding countryside.
  3. A map book (27 megabytes) allows for easier printing and mobile use.

Your Cart