GPS and trail maps



Hiking/Mountain Biking Trails

Dear Friends and Outdoor Enthusiasts in the Prescott area:

This past weekend, I spent a number of hours configuring my smart phone to help me navigate using detailed trail map information, and I thought I would share what I have learned with you….

I have found that my Android phone’s GPS can navigate fairly accurately even in remote locations where I don’t have cell phone/4G data connection (except in deep ravines where satellite signals can be lost). There are a number of applications that enable one to download and store maps for hiking and biking in remote areas (such as AlpineQuest, OruxMaps, Maprika, etc.). Yet finding detailed trail maps to navigate is a challenge! So I thought I would share with you what I have found. First, on the US Forest Service website, one can download GIS files (look for TrailJoin and RoadJoin in KMZ format which can be converted to GPX on various websites such as I am able to overlay this GPX files as tracks on top of my topographic map (AlpineQuest lets me display all of the PNF trails at once, which is cool).

Nevertheless, even the National Forest Service GIS trail data are limited. What I have found to be the most complete maps of the numerous mountain trails and dirt roads in the National Forest is what Derek Brownlee created ( The maps include forest and state trust land boundaries; paved, graded, and primitive roads; and all kinds of trails! He has also created these maps for areas around Williams and Flagstaff. This past weekend, I downloaded most of his maps and pieced them together in large mosaics at the links as seamlessly as possible. I’ve put the maps at the links below. They are great for printing (for some old fashioned orienteering) or planning your next hike or bike ride. But what’s really cool is that if you download these files into your phone’s photo directory, the free Maprika app (which is a free download for both Apple and Android devices) will allow you to import them and navigate on them using your GPS. The only caveat is that you must accurately specify 5 or 6 anchor points (which is fairly easy to do in Maprika). I can’t wait to try it out!

Let me know if you’d like help getting this configured on your device. I’d be happy to help if I can.



Curtis N. James, Ph.D

Undergraduate Research Institute Dir.

& Assoc. Prof. of Meteorology
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
3700 Willow Creek Road
Prescott, AZ 86301-3270
URI Phone: (928) 777-4-URI [T,Th]
Office: (928) 777-6655 [M,W,F]