Last month we added a new link to our website: the SWTrails GIS Portal. This Portal provides access to some new and wonderful maps created by SWTrails member Brian Brady and founder Don Baack. We think they’ll make it easier to find, use, and understand our urban trails in Southwest Portland.
The most notable result of their effort is our new Story Map, which offers a detailed and interactive view of each trail, complete with elevation profiles. It’s the first link you’ll see on the portal: “A Story Map of the Urban Trails in SW Portland.” The story begins with a brief description of the trail maps and a list of links to subsequent maps in the trail system. However, you can also simply scroll down the page; each trail has a photograph, a few paragraphs outlining the topographical characteristics and attractions along the way (with clickable links!).
If you want to concentrate on one trail, simply click on the numbered blue link, and a map showing only that trail will appear. Neighborhoods are color-coded, and clicking anywhere on the trail will bring up pop-up information regarding ownership of this portion of trail including; trail surface and the approximate street location. Trail users will be able to assess whether a particular trail is something they’d like to try—and if so, which part, and where might they start? The elevation gain tool will help those who need to be careful of their energies, or who just like to know how much climbing to anticipate.
The new maps also delineate changes to our old routes, deemed by Brady, Baack and other SWTrails board members to better reflect safety or efficiency considerations. In essence they correct the published SWTrails map (the PDF you can download from the City of Portland’s link) and the Google version on this website.
For newcomers to Southwest Portland, the enigmatic brown signs indicating a number and an arrow can be intriguing, amusing, sometimes even baffling. This is part of the pleasure and mystique of encountering and following a SWTrails route, even for longtime neighborhood residents. While the idea of a suburban/urban trail that can take you from a busy street through what feels like someone’s back yard might be an unfamiliar concept, it’s a vital one to SWTrails advocates, who view the establishment of safe routes—using public roads and rights of way—as a necessary component of a healthful, safe and environmentally friendly neighborhood existence.
We hope these maps, which showcase the hard work of SWTrails volunteers through the years, enable us to better engage Portlanders in creating an accessible and easy-to-explore network of trails and routes throughout Southwest Portland (and beyond!).