Late May in the Mountains

May 24 weather animation for Cold Mountain

Cold Mountain clears into view after the morning fog burns off and reveals the marvelous green from this spring’s abundant moisture. One can see that spring is just reaching the summit and a beautiful sunset occurred on this spring day.

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.

Spring Day

April 15 weather animation

A nice cloud swept sunrise this past Monday and a fantastic afternoon to follow. Special days ahead.

UK Campus Native Tree Tour

The University of Kentucky’s Native Tree Trail

The University of Kentucky Native Tree Trail

The great document was made by Forestry students in UK’s College of Agriculture in 2007 and we just found it! This 2.2-mile tour locates 45 native tree species on UK’s campus and includes pictures. From the description, the document appears to be a class project for FOR 599: Geographic Information Systems in Natural Resources. Now this is a great example of using classwork & technology to keep us green and appreciate our diverse flora.

By: Lee Moser and Matt Strong
Course Instructor: Dr. Songlin Fei

This project is supported by the UK Service-Learning Grant Program, Department of Forestry, and College of Agriculture.

Download and for other local tours, visit the Department of Forestry website and click on the left-hand link, “Links and Opportunities.”

Climate prediction for next weekend

6-10 day temperature prediction

6-10 day temperature prediction

We know this weekend is setting up to be the best hiking weather we’ve had in this year. So go out if you can! But if you can’t and would like to plan a trip next weekend, it’s also looking good. This climate model predicts we’ll have higher than normal temperatures and precipitation during next weekend and into the first of week following. Temperatures could average around 55° F with rain about 0.4″ above normal rates for April 10-14. That’s a good spring forecast and we welcome the coming of the growing season.

6-10 day precipitation forecast

6-10 day precipitation forecast

Tale of Two Years

We have a late spring this year and you can see it with the Look Rock webcam. The first image is from April 1, 2013 and doesn’t show much greening of the trees. The second image is an animation from April 1, 2012 and you can quickly notice much more tender green.

[Read more…]

Early Spring Snow in the Great Smokies

Snow on Mt. LeConte

In winters past, the highlands of the Great Smokies could expect an average of 8-10 feet of snow. This winter we’ve had much less, though the average temperatures have about normal. On March 26, however, we saw a dramatic snowfall with Mt. LeConte getting about 20″ in one storm with little snowfall at lower elevations. These images clearly show the snow line and give a unique feeling to the mountain scenery.

[Read more…]

Web page update

As we update the site for our 2013 hiking season, please don’t mind our fuss, too much. We’re trying organize our site better and offer more maps for spring.

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

We won an award!

We submitted the Bike Lex Map for the Kentucky Association of Mapping Professionals 2012 Kentucky GIS Conference map competition. We competed and won 2nd place! It was a great conference in Louisville and I must say that I probably gained a few pounds from all of the great food.

Woodland Art Fair!

We invite you to visit our booth during the Woodland Art Fair this weekend, August 18-19. We are located in the back section of the Woodland Christian Church portion of the fair.

Click on map to expand

This year we have friends for neighbors, Cricket Press. They were near High Street for many years, but decided to join us in the tree covered corner of the fair. They design and handprint all kinds of awesomeness.

This map shows our locations with bike lanes (blue lines) and preferred bike routes (orange lines) to help cyclists navigate this car crazy event. Bluegrass Community & Technical College is offering bike valet parking this year.

National Weather Service Update

Within the past few months, the National Weather Service updated many of their websites, which impacted our weather services on We are happy to announce that we have completed updates on our end so we can continue to serve up weather information for the Daniel Boone and Great Smokies.

The biggest change was to their home page and to the point locations’ weather and forecast pages. This caused our 7-day forecast to break, but we have fixed the problem. Also, the rss feeds for watches and warnings were dropped for point locations, so we had figure out a work around to pull in these important messages. While we didn’t replicate the rss feeds, we were able to pull in hazardous weather discussions for our locations. It kinda works and thank goodness for the command line utilities pcregrep and sed.

Never Summer Wilderness

We visited Colorado this June & July and had a remarkable journey through the Rocky Mountain National Park and Arapaho National Forest. The Never Summer Wilderness area borders the western side of Rocky Mountain NP and straddles the Continental Divide. 13,000-foot peaks with 11,000-foot alpine lakes on their flanks were this trip’s scenic destinations. Parika Lake provided one nice, large trout, but photography was our challenge. Look at some photos or [Read more…]


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