By LEIGH HORNBECK, Times Union, link to original post
Just as there are comprehensive road maps available online, there is now a map of the more than 200 miles of Saratoga County’s non-motorized trails and 124 miles of snowmobile routes.
The conservation group Saratoga PLAN hired Chris Ferraro, a graduate student at the University at Albany, to compile data on the county’s trails to make an online, interactive map. A grant from the county’s Chamber of Commerce made it possible to pay Ferraro a small stipend.
Trails throughout the county are maintained by different entities — PLAN, the county and individual municipalities. Ferraro’s work was the first attempt to bring all the data together.
Andy Fyfe, stewardship director for PLAN, said he regularly takes calls from people who want to know the best places to ride their bikes, or where horses are allowed.
The motivation to have a comprehensive map was based partially on influence from the public and partially on PLAN’s own need to have a central database to use for planning purposes, Fyfe said. As land stewards, PLAN staff can now see gaps between trails and opportunities to link trails together. “Chris spends a lot of time in the field, going to trails that didn’t exist on digital maps and using PLAN’s GIS unit to create a map,” Fyfe said.
Ferraro also corrected some existing trail maps using the technology provided by the global information system that triangulates satellite signals to create maps that are accurate within three feet.
Saratoga’s trails are used by walkers, runners, cyclists, equestrians and snowmobilers, but each use is not allowed on every trail.
The new map is accessible a variety of ways, through Google Maps, Google Earth and the county’s own GIS site. This is the version Fyfe recommends for computer users with relatively fast connection speed.
Ferraro made use of the plentiful data already supplied by the county’s planning department, which already had eight levels to include maps of land parcels, political districts, geology and other features. Check the “parks and recreation” tab and dozens of dark green, light green and purple dots are revealed to show trail heads, parking and motorless boat access. Several dozen yellow flags also show the county’s bounty of historical markers. A little more exploring and you will find information about each trail using the map’s “identify” tool, and one more click brings you to the uses for the land.
Fyfe does not consider PLAN’s mapping work done, however. The project covered 95 percent of the trails in the county, but there are still more.
If you know of a public trail that is missing from the map, call Fyfe at 587-5554, Ext. 3.
Here’s the way. Find the various links to access the trail map at http://www.saratogaplan.org.