Mapping My Woodlot with my Smartphone

Andrew Krutz Wednesday, 24 October 2018

5.0/5 rating 1 vote

 Early on in my forestry career I was tasked with hiking up and down mountains in the Pacific Northwest to predetermined points using nothing but the compass and pacing techniques I had learned in school. This frequently involved sliding down muddy ravines, crawling on all fours through plants that are designed to stab, and using roots to climb out of said muddy ravine. Needless to say it was difficult to keep track of where I was at times.

My boss then introduced me to a little-known mapping app for smartphones called Avenza Maps. This free app uses georeferenced PDF maps downloaded on your smartphone to make navigation easy. It is available in the Apple App Store, Google Play, or any other smartphone app store. Anyone with access to a GIS (Geographical Information System) program can create one of these maps and email it to anyone who has this app. Many foresters have access to this program. The PDF attachment is then downloaded and, assuming you are currently on the map, you will show up as a blue dot.

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In addition, there is a map store with a very large selection of professionally made maps available to download for free or for a fee (generally between $0.99 and $12).

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Once the map is downloaded, you do not need service to use it. I have used this app nearly every day for work since I found out about it, so it is more than adequate for what most landowners need. You can use it to track the routes you have walked, record your favorite hiking trails on your property, put placemarks (with descriptions and photos if you want) on areas of interest to return to in the future, and measure lengths and areas with the measurement tool. You can learn more about mapping your trails on My Woodlot: https://mywoodlot.com/item/map-my-trails.

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There is also a feature that opens the map on Google Maps (if you have service) to help you drive to an area you are unfamiliar with. The app is continually being updated and improved to become even more powerful. There are professional versions available for a fee, but the free version is adequate for most users. Avenza Maps is the mapping app that I have used the most, but there are others available for you to try, such as AllTrails, Trails.com, and Gaia GPS Hiking Maps.

Everyone loves maps, especially of their own property. If you have a smartphone you can use one of these apps to aid and enhance your outdoor experience.

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