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Washington Navigating new trail systems

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This post is mainly a question about GPS units. For trail riding in WA (and anywhere else really) do any of you have a preference on GPS units for navigation? Do iPhones work well enough? I suspect that my abysmal T-Mobile service won't do me much good once I get off any major highways.

 

For places like Tahuya and Cap Forrest, I assume there are plenty of trail signs to help people get around, but for someone new to these areas what's the smartest/easiest/most cost efficient way to explore without getting completely turned around?

Edited by jc.av8r

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I have T-Mobile, and its useless as a GPS. One solution is download a PDF trailmap to your phone and put it in airplane mode.

^^ This.

Out of cell coverage, the iPhone takes a minute or two to find the satellites, but after it does, it is pretty darned accurate. Airplane mode saves the battery life big-time by not constantly searching for service.

I'm not familiar with how WA works, but I'm assuming they have MVUMs like ID and MT? The paper version of the map looks overly simplistic and useless, but when your GPS can locate you precisely on that map, it is surprisingly helpful. The BLM maps you can purchase through the (free) Avenza map app has the best bang for the buck, IMO. Have the free green topo maps loaded too as a great back-up. I've found the free topos available through there are sometimes old and outdated, but any map is better than no map.

Edited by ITLKSEZ

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One way to stay oriented is to look at a map of the area in your gps software on your pc, create waypoints around the map at key intersections and interval.  Print that map and load to the gps.  That way you can look at the gps and see, for example, waypoint 1  is above and 7 is beside you without actually being at those point. You can then easily reference your location on the map without doing a lot of scrolling and zooming on the gps.  have your gps set to north up, because all maps are north up.

 

Another tip in learning a new area is to learn the roads, First visit take a ride around the roads and look for trail heads or crossings. Note those mentally or with a waypoint then when you hit them on the trail you have an idea where you are.

 

Personally I think the use of electronic navigation and sharing tracks on the www is taking some of the fun out of exploring. Coming back the next week excited to find more "new stuff" and so on. 

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Personally I think the use of electronic navigation and sharing tracks on the www is taking some of the fun out of exploring. Coming back the next week excited to find more "new stuff" and so on.

I couldn't agree more. I've never owned a map of Tahuya State Forest...I learned it using good old-fashioned exploration. I used my Garmin as a backup, in case I got turned around(easy to do in some of the more remote ST). Capital Forest is a prime example of "learn the roads" all the trails cross 'em at some point. Lots of "after dark, low on fuel" riders led out of Capital.

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IMO CF is more confusing than Tahuya.  Before GPS all we had were paper maps and our wits, I don't know how we survived. Often misoriented but never lost. :lol:

 

Washinton DNR has free digiatal maps for both Tahuya and CF, that coupled with DNR's good trail markings should keep you from becoming too lost.

 

I use a Garmin GPS with switchbacks.com topo maps and trails.  Together with paper maps should keep you from becoming lost.

I also have a smartphone running Avensa PDF maps with DNR's pdf map of CF. Wish my GPS had such a nice screen.

 

Also Highmarker's suggestion of driving the roads with a GPS is a fast way to learn the area.  I did that in CF with a GPS and map, and surprised myself later when riding and recognising road crossings.

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Personally I think the use of electronic navigation and sharing tracks on the www is taking some of the fun out of exploring. Coming back the next week excited to find more "new stuff" and so on. 

 

I pretty much agree with this statement...but just want to make sure I don't end up living in the trees alone for an extra day if I get totally turned around lol.

 

IMO CF is more confusing than Tahuya.  Before GPS all we had were paper maps and our wits, I don't know how we survived. Often misoriented but never lost. :lol:

 

Washinton DNR has free digiatal maps for both Tahuya and CF, that coupled with DNR's good trail markings should keep you from becoming too lost.

 

I use a Garmin GPS with switchbacks.com topo maps and trails.  Together with paper maps should keep you from becoming lost.

I also have a smartphone running Avensa PDF maps with DNR's pdf map of CF. Wish my GPS had such a nice screen.

 

Also Highmarker's suggestion of driving the roads with a GPS is a fast way to learn the area.  I did that in CF with a GPS and map, and surprised myself later when riding and recognising road crossings.

 

Cool....my plan is to go explore CF on my own to shake the cobwebs off and get acquanted with the new bike. I am a pilot and generally very good with locating myself and planning ahead just by examining overhead/aerial maps before setting out anywhere, so I don't forsee a big problem. Great tip on cruising the roads first.....

 

Thanks guys.

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Personally I think the use of electronic navigation and sharing tracks on the www is taking some of the fun out of exploring. Coming back the next week excited to find more "new stuff" and so on. 

 

I think it is way easier just to follow Highmarker around and just wonder where you are the whole day. :ride:  I know I am not the only one who enjoys seeing where he takes us!

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I have T-Mobile, and its useless as a GPS. One solution is download a PDF trailmap to your phone and put it in airplane mode.

A point of classification, T-Mobile cell coverage in remote areas does suck. But the GPS works great. This has more to do with the phone hardware than carrier.

I am using T-Mobile with HTC One and PDF Maps app with GPS enabled maps downloaded onto phone.

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Only limitation is there aren't pdf enabled maps for many riding places in WA state. This will get better with time

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Only limitation is there aren't pdf enabled maps for many riding places in WA state. This will get better with time

Or you convert jpg or pdf  map images using Google Earth.

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Georeferenced maps are available for any of the areas mentioned. The big question is current trail and road information. Example is USGS TOPO map quads. They range in age from this year to the to 30's.....

Chuck's method can work but you need to be mindful of using common map datums between google maps data frame and the overlaid map import. Also make sure your end export is in the proper map datum for the device/app that is the end user.

Edited by trailwhale

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Another option is to use your GPS PC software and enter a 10 waypoint by 10 waypoint grid (100 waypoints total) that covers the riding area and download it to your GPS.  Mark the same 10 x 10 waypoint grid on your physical map.  Ride for a while and see what waypoint you're close to and pinpoint your location.  Get out the map and decide what direction you want to go next.

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Another option is to use your GPS PC software and enter a 10 waypoint by 10 waypoint grid (100 waypoints total) that covers the riding area and download it to your GPS.  Mark the same 10 x 10 waypoint grid on your physical map.  Ride for a while and see what waypoint you're close to and pinpoint your location.  Get out the map and decide what direction you want to go next.

Good method. I like it.

Doesn't need to be an absolute grid, I would pick such things as trail/road intersections rather than an accurate grid pattern.

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I think it is way easier just to follow Highmarker around and just wonder where you are the whole day. :ride:  I know I am not the only one who enjoys seeing where he takes us!

 

TRUEST WORDS ON HERE ! :)

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On the same topic, for those familiar with Tahuya, where would you say is the best staging area / trail head to start out from? I drive a Jeep with a 14' trailer.

 

My plan is to go mess around solo to get familiar, but I see a few different possible starting points. Any recommendations?

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On the same topic, for those familiar with Tahuya, where would you say is the best staging area / trail head to start out from? I drive a Jeep with a 14' trailer.

My plan is to go mess around solo to get familiar, but I see a few different possible starting points. Any recommendations?

Elfendahl Pass staging area, is the easiest to get to via map. It's a pretty good central location, for a start. Without an RV, you can stage at a variety of places, in order to more directly access specific areas of the forest. Don't forget a current Discover Pass.

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Elfendahl Pass staging area, is the easiest to get to via map. It's a pretty good central location, for a start. Without an RV, you can stage at a variety of places, in order to more directly access specific areas of the forest. Don't forget a current Discover Pass.

 

Thanks - agreed that looks like a good spot. Only 1.5 hours from home too.

 

I have the same question in regards to Capitol State Forest....

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Thanks - agreed that looks like a good spot. Only 1.5 hours from home too.

I have the same question in regards to Capitol State Forest....

Waddell(quadhell) Creek, Rock Candy. Rock Candy is the easier of the two. Straddeline is another viable option, just a few miles further than Rock Candy(on hwy 8). Straddeline will offer security, you won't get at any of the staging areas, but have to ride farther to hit the bulk of the trails. I frequent CF...a lot(mostly not riding). Get a map, bring your choice of GPS, and go. Many people get lost there(even the newer DNR folks). If you hit it on Sundays or Mondays, keep an eye out for a big brown & tan '78 Ramcharger...I can point the way. With temps coming down a bit. I'll be packing extra fuel, for the inevitable low fuel, lost rider. Within the last 2 weeks logging prep was being made above Rock Candy, on the Army Tie Road. Don't forget a current Discover Pass. Edited by bowhunter007

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