Newcastle Trails readies latest map with help of volunteer Harry Morgan

October 4, 2010

By Tim Pfarr

Newcastle Trails is preparing to release its latest map of city trails with the help of Hobart resident Harry Morgan, who walked all of the city’s trails with a GPS in August and September 2009. He used his GPS to record his trips and create a new, accurate map.

Morgan released the first map that used GPS data to Newcastle Trails in June, and his latest map, which he gave to the organization at the end of September, makes minor corrections and clarifications. After Newcastle Trails’ board of directors approves the new map, it will be available to hikers and trail users online and in paper brochures.

The map Morgan released in June was a big step forward, Newcastle Trails President Garry Kampen and Treasurer Peggy Price said. In addition to being accurate, the map omitted most trails that have not yet been built (as opposed to the group’s planning map, which has all planned trails as well as actual trails on it) and showed how Newcastle’s trails link up with the Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park and Bellevue’s Coal Creek trail systems.

Price emphasized that the old map was much less user friendly.

“Such a map is not terribly helpful to hikers, who simply want to know where they can walk,” Price said.

Kampen added that Morgan walked nearly every path in the city that wasn’t a sidewalk.

“He did a really heroic job in walking just about every walkable trail in the city, even some that weren’t on our formal map,” Kampen said. “More of what’s on the ground is actually showing on the new map.”

Morgan has mapped for seven years, mapping trails on Squak Mountain for the Issaquah Alps club, in Enumclaw and in the Rock Creek area of Maple Valley. He said he was unfamiliar with Newcastle’s trails system before taking part on the project, and that it was his constituents at the Issaquah Alps who put him in touch with Newcastle Trails.

“It was kind of a different experience for me,” he said, as his previous mapping duties have been in undeveloped areas. He said it was surprising how quickly the city’s trails take hikers from developed areas into forested areas with wildlife.

He mapped the area over the course of about six hiking trips, traveling between three and seven miles each day. After his hikes, he would offload the data he collected on his Garmin 60CSX GPS, and use a geographic information system computer program to map the trails.

Morgan performed all of his mapping duties without taking a fee.

Newcastle Trails posts trails maps on its website, www.newcastletrails.org, under the “Trail Map (PDF)” link.

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