Jason Mandly, a meteorologist from Chico (Butte County), had a simple dream: map every single hiking trail in the state of California.
This is not as easy as it sounds. In this age of satellite photos, Google Maps, and easy access to virtually all information via the Internet, we tend to assume that a one-stop shop for anything you want is already out there.
But when Mandly went looking for the all-encompassing California trail map that surely someone had created already, he couldn’t find it. If he wanted one, he was going to have to do it himself. Using information from the California Protected Areas Data Portal as a starting point, he pored over maps and satellite images from every county in the state looking for exact geographical data on every hiking trail.
With a $3,250 goal via Kickstarter, Mandly ended up raising $11,631. Apparently he wasn’t the only one with a hankering for registering routes.
That was three years ago. The final product (measuring 5' x 3.5') showcases "hiking trails, class one bike trails, and fire roads closed to vehicles."
He may have missed one or two, but it’s hard to imagine looking at the thing. Mandly compiled data from USGS, the Forest Service, the National Parks Service, Fish & Wildlife, a half dozen different counties.
With little emphasis on highways or cities, California looks like one long, rolling strip of wilderness from this perspective, the way it must have been hundreds of years ago.
Why is it the map so big? "Because California is big," says Mandly. He’s got us there.
Of course, the Bay Area is so densely laced with trails that Mandly simply couldn’t manage them all on even a map this size, so he had to create inset windows for Marin County and the areas around the bay. Which was presumably a lot of extra pains for him, but a bonus for San Franciscans.
(Curbed LA points out he had to do the same for Southern California.)
If you’re interested, the whole package is $20, plus $7 shipping. Yes, it costs almost a third as much to get this thing through the mail, but what can we say? It’s a big state.