The production of high quality printed topographic maps for outdoor recreation and reference is an area of great interest for me. Combining the "ground truth" sensibility of orienteering mapping with detailed artful cartography produces a unique and valuable map. Here are some examples, most recent at the bottom.

Surebridge Mountain Orienteering Map – Harriman State Park, NY

 (1:15,000, 16.75 x 18 inches, five spot colors, 1993)

This is one of four orienteering maps that I prepared for the 1993 World Orienteering Championships. Photogrammetric basemap was by Ivar Helgesen. Field work was performed twice (by design), with the final field work by Steve Key of Australia. I performed the cartography in FreeHand on a Macintosh IIci with 20 mb of RAM (ah those were the days!). Actually, this map was drafted as five pieces, which were stitched together using Macintosh Publish and Subscribe, because the entire 17 mb map could not be handled at once!

Detail 1

Detail 2

Mount Greylock State Reservation

  (1:30,000, 19.375 x 26.5 inches, CMYK plus one spot color, 1995 and 2001)

This was my first attempt to apply orienteering map production techniques to a hiking map. It was produced by first photogrammetrically surveying and compiling a new basemap (topography and planimetry)  using 1992 NAPP aerial photography. This was followed by two weeks of field work to map the hiking trails and any other major features which did not appear adequately in the photography. The final cartography was performed in FreeHand. 

This map is packaged as an insert to the Appalachian Mountain Club's Massachusetts and Rhode Island Hiking Guide, as well as loose. It can be ordered from AMC's web site. It was originally published in 1995.

In 2001, it was reissued, with a substantial design make-over and field updates, by the Berkshire Natural Resources Council and can be ordered from their web site.


Waldo Lake Wilderness, Oregon

 (1:63,360, 24x27 inches, process color plus one spot color, 1998)

Produced from a combination of National Forest Service-supplied GIS data and tablet digitizing from USGS and Forest Service maps. Digital elevation models were supplied by the client for most of the area at 10 meter resolution. The shading and 100 foot contours were generated from these data. 

This map is designed for wilderness-compatible outdoor recreation. The opposite side (developed in-house by the client) features textual descriptions of a number of the natural features of the area, as well as a number of color photos. It was published in 1999, and is available from the Willamette National Forest.


Yokun Ridge, Massachusetts

(1:25,000, 17x24 inches, process color plus one spot color 1999)

Produced from all original work: photogrammetric aerial survey of both topography and planimetry from 1985 color infrared NAPP photography, field survey of all trails, buildings and roads, etc.This approach was chosen because we wanted a detailed and up to date picture at a large scale. 

The purpose of this map is to promote environmental conservation and environmentally sensitive recreational usage of a ten mile long ridge in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts. In addition to hilighting recreational resources in the area, the map shows a variety of land jurisdictions: public parks, publicly owned watersheds, private land trusts and conservation easements allowing varying degrees of recreational access. The opposite side features discussions of the history and ecology of the area, as well as a number of color photos. Production was funded by a grant from the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority.

Available from Berkshire Natural Resources Council


Bull of the Woods Wilderness / Opal Creek Wilderness (with Table Rock Wilderness, Menagerie Wilderness, Middle Santiam Wilderness, Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area), Oregon

  (1:63,360, 18x24 inches, two sides, process color plus one spot color, 1999) was produced from GIS data, 10m digital elevation models, digitizing from USGS maps and orthophotos  and a variety of other sources.

This map provided an opportunity to experiment with some new cartographic ideas. Instead of using a separate gray ink for shaded relief that overprints the other background information, we have merged the shaded relief together with the vegetation and boundary ribbons into a single CMYK background image. This enabled subtle colorizing of the shaded relief that has a dramatic impact upon the impression of relief. Only contours and UTM grid are rendered in the spot color gray.

The map was produced in collaboration with Imus Geographics, of Eugene Oregon, who developed the project, identified most of the data sources and conducted field work.

This map is available from Imus Geographics, P.O. Box 161, Eugene OR 97440. (541) 344-1431


Chugach State Park

Chugach State Park, Alaska

  (1:100,000, 26.5 x 35 inches, two sides (map on side one, text and graphics on side two), process color plus one spot color, 2000)

Produced mostly by digitizing from USGS 1:25,000 and 1:63,360 quadrangles. Anchorage streets and parks came from the Municipality of Anchorage GIS. Extensive informant interviews and some field work supplied most of the recreation information. We are particularly pleased with the quality and generosity of the input that we received from Chugach State Park, the Mountaineering Club of Alaska, and others.

This was a collaboration with Imus Geographics. Dave Imus was the project leader, while I did the digitizing and digital production work. Digitizing the base map from USGS quads required 550 hours, and that was just where the fun started! The digital elevation model used to generate shaded relief was created from the digitized contours and drainage by Northern Cartographic, in Burlington, VT.

Once I had the grayscale shaded relief image, I used essentially the same recipe for the colorized shaded background as on Bull of the Woods/Open Creek, above. However, recognizing that "open land" consists of two very important major types: vegetated (low elevation grass, heather, alder thickets) and non-vegetated (rock at higher elevations), I used a Landsat7 browse image, which shows the distinction between these two types very clearly. I blurred this low resolution image to produce a subtle gradient between vegetated and non-vegetated areas, and then created an adjustment layer in Photoshop which graduated the color within the open area between very light green (for the vegetated areas) and a light tan (the rock).

Produced in FreeHand 9, the file for this map was 31 mb, the main background image was 85 mb (compressed TIFF). I had to upgrade my equipment to handle this project, and it turned out to be something of a saga to get the film made as well. However, Digital Link Atlanta worked tirelessly with me to get output that worked - thanks guys!

This map is available from Imus Geographics, P.O. Box 161, Eugene OR 97440. (541) 344-1431


South Taconic Range, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York

  (1:35,000, 19.375 x 32 inches, two sides (map on side one, text and graphics on side two), process color plus two spot colors and varnish, 2002)

Produced similarly to Greylock and Yokun Ridge, for the same client: Berkshire Natural Resources Council. I compiled the basemap photogrammetrically from 1996 1:40,000 NAPP aerial photography.

Ethan Plunkett performed field work.

Detail 1 – entire map at 100 dpi

Detail 2 – closeup of texture substitution and embossing on background image.

Sheep Hill, Williamstown, Massachusetts

  (fiberglass embedded panel installed at trail head kiosk 48 x 38 inches, 2002)

I rasterized an existing map (the Williams Outing Club trails map, that I had helped produce) which did not have shaded relief and combined it with shaded relief and landcover texture substitution in Photoshop to create a significant enhancement upon the original, without very much work at all.



 (28.5 x 56.25 inches, folded or flat, 2004)

Another collaboration with Imus Geographics. This is a map of the entire state of Alaska, in an Albers Equal Aera projection, at a scale of 1 to 3 million. About three and a half years from initial work to completion, we first tried to make it primarily from GIS data. However after almost a year of work, we concluded that the map was not shaping up the way we hoped it would. So we went back to basics, and compiled information from numerous sources (including GIS) onto colored pencil manuscripts, and then digitized that.

A paper entitled "Back to the Drawing Board: Cartography vs. the Digital Workflow" was presented at the ICA Mountain Cartography Workshop in May 2002 and documents some of the production process used for this map.

This map is available from Imus Geographics, P.O. Box 161, Eugene OR 97440. (541) 344-1431

Section enlarged


Berkshire County, Massachusetts

 (1:63,360, 32 inches wide x 50.75 inches high, poster weight, flat, 2005)

The definitive map of Berkshire County at one inch to the mile. Based on MassGIS vector data, heavily augmented by compilation from 2002 aerial photos. Road centerlines, individual houses and driveways, vegetation and water were compiled from 0.5 meter resolution color orthoimagery. Shading was created from MassGIS digital terrain models rendered into a digital elevation model. Background was assembled in Photoshop, foreground in Illustrator CS with MAPublisher plugin.

Dave Imus helped very substantially with digitizing and design.

Available from Berkshire Natural Resources Council