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Q: Public domain information about hiking trails in USA ( Answered 3 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Public domain information about hiking trails in USA
Category: Sports and Recreation > Outdoors
Asked by: lanfor-ga
List Price: $200.00
Posted: 27 Aug 2006 20:57 PDT
Expires: 26 Sep 2006 20:57 PDT
Question ID: 760052
I created a free database of hiking trails -  I would
like to prepopulate the site with information about as many trails as

I hope that you can help me find some public domain information about
hiking trails in the USA.  It would be best if I could get a list of
publications/resources and methodically go through all the trails,
one-by-one, adding the trails to Hikipedia as I go.

I am willing to order some publications (published by rangers/national
parks/government?) if I can freely copy the information from there. 
Of course I am also willing to use online resources.

I am primarily looking for a good coverage of all areas of the USA. 
Number of trails is secondary.  Trails with readily available lat/lng
of trailhead are much more valuable to me than trails with only
driving directions.

To add a trail to the database I need:
- Trailhead location (latitude/longitude) [sometimes driving
directions to the trailhead are accurate enough to let me find the
latitude/longitude via google maps;  it is best if latitude/longitude
are explicitly stated, but driving directions are also okay]
- Trail's name
- Trail's description written in prose, that I can copy.  [I think that most
  information about a trail is factual and thus automatically is considered
  fair use (i.e. trail's length);  trail's description is different - it has
  to be under public domain to copy it freely] 
- Some of the following information:
  - trail's length
  - trail's elevation gain
  - trail's min and max elevation
  - trail's hiking season (i.e. Jun - Oct)
  - list of trail's attractions (i.e. Summit/Waterfall/Beach/Fire lookout/etc.)
  - trail's difficulty rating (i.e. easy/moderate/difficult)

After some research I found
(an example of a trail description:
This is good information, but there are 2 issues with it: 
1) This information is limited to Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.  
   I would have to spend considerable amount of time finding such pages
   for each area of the US.  I had to spend about 1 hour to find that
2) I am not quite sure that this information is public domain.  I think
   that it might be, because it is on a website.

I have also found
Issues with that site:
1) It does link to the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest website and after
   some considerable digging one can get to the webpage with a list of trails
   mentioned above.  I am concerned that the amount of digging will be
   considerable for other areas mentioned on
2) Not all areas listed on this site are about hiking trails.  Some of them
   are about fishing sites or camping sites.

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 28 Aug 2006 16:44 PDT

There's plenty of information out there on hiking trails, but you're
right, the trick is finding a manageable way to consolidate all.

First things first.  Information from the FEDERAL government is
automatically public domain.  Information from STATE governments is
often treated as public domain, but in actual fact, it may or may not
be...states vary as to how they treat their own published information.

You can find plenty of public domain information from the federal
government on hiking trails at these search results, here:

Take a look, and let me know how useful (or not) these sources are for your needs.

Another resource I thought of is a database of geographical features
in the US, which can crank out a list of trails in any given state. 
For instance, here is the list of almost 100 trails in NY:

Trail Name 	                 County 	State	Lat	Long

Appalachian National Scenic Trail	Putnam	NY	412231N	0735327W
Ash Pond Trail	St. Lawrence	NY	440653N	0744907W
Bear Pond Trail	Essex	NY	435141N	0733430W
Berrymile Pond Trail	Essex	NY	434908N	0733434W
Big Deer Pond Trail	St. Lawrence	NY	440425N	0745052W
Breakneck Ridge Trail	Rockland	NY	411203N	0740550W
Burnt Hill Trail	Schuyler	NY	422853N	0764728W
California Trail	Herkimer	NY	431547N	0745303W
Clear Pond Trail	Essex	NY	435110N	0733454W
Comfort Trail	Orange	NY	413333N	0741601W
Conklins Crossing	Rockland	NY	411016N	740700W
Davis Park Ferry	Suffolk	NY	404248N	0730051W
Dividing Ridge Trail	Essex	NY	440402N	0735335W
Dix Trail	Essex	NY	440440N	0734719W
East River Trail	Essex	NY	440825N	0734801W
Elk Lake Marcy Trail	Essex	NY	440335N	0735329W
Essex Ferry	Essex	NY	441821N	0731933W
Finger Lakes Trail	Schuyler	NY	422651N	0764815W
Fishers Island Ferry	Suffolk	NY	411748N	0720434W
Forty Mountain Trail	Herkimer	NY	432457N	0750156W
Fraser Burial Site Trail	Saratoga	NY	430013N	0733630W
Goethals Trail	Orange	NY	412324N	0735905W
Gorge Trail	Schuyler	NY	422720N	0764746W
Hamilton Mtn Fire Tower Trail	Hamilton	NY	432549N	0742213W
Hopkins Trail	Essex	NY	440807N	0735410W
Indian Pass Trail	Essex	NY	440842N	0740128W
Interloken Trail	Schuyler	NY	423033N	0764749W
Johns Brook Trail	Essex	NY	441018N	0735027W
Kakiat Trail	Rockland	NY	411024N	0740822W
Kanape Jeep Trail	Ulster	NY	415520N	0741836W
Leach Trail	Essex	NY	440759N	0734716W
Long Swing Trail	Essex	NY	435154N	0733944W
Lost Pond Trail	Essex	NY	434951N	0733306W
McKenzie Pond Trail	Essex	NY	441927N	0740340W
Norridge Trail	Herkimer	NY	435318N	0745327W
North Country Trail	Warren	PA	413826N	0790034W
Northville Lake Placid Trail	Hamilton	NY	435101N	0742249W
Oregon Trail	Warren	NY	433033N	0740714W
Party Trail	Herkimer	NY	432255N	0745935W
Patrick Trail	Orange	NY	412301N	0735831W
Peaked Hill Trail	Essex	NY	435424N	0734109W
Peenpack Trail	Orange	NY	412644N	0744146W
Pharoah Mountain Trail	Essex	NY	434944N	0733926W
Phelps Trail	Essex	NY	440803N	0735331W
Phoenicia Trail	Ulster	NY	420416N	0741653W
Pine Meadow Trail	Rockland	NY	411036N	0740807W
Pipe Line Trail	Orange	NY	412349N	0735830W
Port Kent Burlington Ferry	Essex	NY	443043N	0732108W
Post Henderson Trail	St. Lawrence	NY	440820N	0745950W
Potomac Trail	Schuyler	NY	422941N	0764649W
Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail	Orange	NY	411420N	0740814W
Range Trail	Essex	NY	440724N	0735256W
Ravine Trail	Schuyler	NY	422843N	0764847W
Redoubt Trail	Orange	NY	412304N	0735809W
Rock Pond Trail	Essex	NY	435048N	0733543W
Salmon Lake Trail	Herkimer	NY	435730N	0745542W
Schiff Trail	Sullivan	NY	413616N	0745640W
Schwartz Trail	Essex	NY	442400N	0735420W
Seager West Branch Trail	Ulster	NY	420107N	0742910W
Sherwood Path	Rockland	NY	411018N	0740629W
Shorey Short Cut	Essex	NY	440714N	0735353W
Short Swing Trail	Essex	NY	435100N	0733712W
Silver Lake Mountain Trail	Clinton	NY	443058N	0735049W
Sixmile Creek Trail	St. Lawrence	NY	440613N	0745011W
South Slope Trail	Schuyler	NY	422659N	0764749W
Southeast Hollow Trail	Rensselaer	NY	423959N	0731809W
Southside Trail	Essex	NY	441017N	0735010W
Spectacle Pond Trail	Essex	NY	434900N	0734247W
Spruceton Trail	Greene	NY	421207N	0741455W
Stillwell Lake Trail	Orange	NY	412014N	0740238W
Stimson Trail	Essex	NY	440757N	0734626W
Stone Dam Trail	Herkimer	NY	432814N	0750333W
Sucker Brook Trail	Hamilton	NY	433852N	0742622W
Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail	Rockland	NY	411057N	0740510W
Taconic Crest Trail	Bennington	VT	424456N	0731634W
The Loop	St. Lawrence	NY	440524N	0745128W
Torne Mount Ivy Trail	Rockland	NY	411134N	0740648W
Trail Number 1	Cattaraugus	NY	420028N	0784955W
Trail Number 10	Cattaraugus	NY	420101N	0784855W
Trail Number 2	Cattaraugus	NY	420051N	0784837W
Trail Number 4	Cattaraugus	NY	420145N	0784628W
Trail Number 4	Cattaraugus	NY	420303N	0784547W
Trail Number 4 A	Cattaraugus	NY	420151N	0784636W
Trail Number 5	Cattaraugus	NY	420318N	0784515W
Trail Number 9	Cattaraugus	NY	420226N	0784511W
Treadway Mountain Trail	Essex	NY	435005N	0733558W
Twin Lakes Trail	Herkimer	NY	432830N	0745848W
Van Hoevenberg Trail	Essex	NY	440709N	0735454W
Vernooy Falls Trail	Ulster	NY	415241N	0742154W
Weston Trail	Essex	NY	440830N	0734526W
White Trail	Essex	NY	440922N	0734844W
Wilkinson Natl Recreation Trail	Saratoga	NY	430019N	0733817W
Willow Trail	Ulster	NY	420520N	0741521W
Woodtown Trail	Rockland	NY	411152N	0740514W

I'd be glad to show you how to generate these lists (which can also
include elevation data) for any state of interest to you, if that
would be useful.

Let me know what you think the best way to proceed would be.  


Clarification of Question by lanfor-ga on 30 Aug 2006 11:50 PDT
Re0: public-domainness

How do I determine if I a website/information I found is in public domain?
I guess I can't just look at .gov domain, because the page might be
created by a state goverment, right?  What are the guidelines for that?

Re1: Database of trails

I assume that lat/lng from the database are for trail's trailhead 
(and not for example for the location of destination/summit/etc.).

I think that having access to the database would be quite helpful.
It potentially could streamline the process of finding trailhead's
location (at least for the trails that are in the database).

The database would be of a big value for me if there was a way of
finding trail's description based on the entry from the database.
I think that it might be quite difficult, because quite a few names
of trails are generic (i.e. "East River Trail").


Thanks - it provides some links to useful hiking info.  It looks
like it would be a bit easier (easier than with 
to filter out links from that page that don't lead to information
about hiking trails (i.e.
leads to a page about hiking trails management plan :-).

Re: how to proceed

Could you please:
- Answer how I should proceed about checking public domain status of
  the pages that I want to copy?
- Provide access to the database you mentioned?
  (it would help me to validate the data from the database if you could
   include full data for entries matching substring search for "Townsend"
   and "Dungeness")

Thank you for your time,

Subject: Re: Public domain information about hiking trails in USA
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 30 Aug 2006 17:27 PDT
Rated:3 out of 5 stars

Thanks for getting back to me.  Here's my take on the two specific
items you identified:

- Answer how I should proceed about checking public domain status of
the pages that I want to copy?

The reason I linked you to the site earlier is because it
allows searches to be restricted to only federal government sites:

On this search form, you can not only enter search terms (like [
hiking trails ] for instance), but you can also specify where to
search, using the "Search In" pull-down menu.  By selecting "Federal
Only", your results should all come from US government sites, and
hence be in the public domain.

One caution, though...I've noticed in the past that an occasional
state-government site will pop up, even in the Federal-Only searches,
so be on the alert (it's usually pretty obvious, just from the name of
the site itself).

On the other hand, I've never come across a case of a state
complaining about copyright-violation of its text from a website --
most states seem to treat their published materials as de facto public
domain, even if state law doesn't actually make it so.

Here are a few links to search results from that are
federal-only (i.e. public domain), and provide both a tight focus on
sites devoted to hiking trails (with highly relevant results), as well
as a looser focus, which should turn up some additional sites of

[tight focus]

[loose focus]

These should get you off to a good start.


As for the geographic database, you can find it here:
Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) 

This is a very comprehensive database in terms of a broad variety of
geographic features and names.  I think you'll find it is a fairly
good listing of trails, but not anywhere near 100% complete.  It seems
to focus on larger trails, for the most part.

There are some tricks to using this database:

--leave almost everything blank

--Use the "Feature Class" pull-down menu to select 'Trails' as the
feature of interest.

--You also have to use the pull down to select a State, and search one
state at a time (leaving it blank will search the whole country at
once, but in searching for trails, it seems to freeze up the
system...the only option that worked for me was one state at a time).

You asked about searching for two terms:  "Townsend" and "Dungeness"

When you enter a term in the search box, it IS possible to search the
entire US (just leave the State box blank).  However, neither of these
terms returned any results.

However, a search on all types of features returned quite a number of
hits, such as these for Dungeness:

Dungeness Bay			Bay		WA
Dungeness Spit			Cape		WA
Dungeness Wharf			Locale	GA
Dungeness Forks Campground	Locale	WA
Dungeness Recreation Area 	Locale	WA
New Dungeness Lighthouse	Locale	WA
Dungeness Lighthouse		Locale	WA
Dungeness Natl Wildlife Ref.	Park		WA
New Dungeness Lighthouse 	Park		WA
Dungeness Recreation Area	Park		WA
Dungeness				Place		GA
Dungeness				Place		WA
Gray Wolf River			Stream	WA
Home Creek				Stream	WA
Dungeness River			Stream	WA
KCDV-AM (Dungeness)		Tower		WA
Dungeness Valley			Valley	WA

A search (just for trails) for a more common word like [ bear ] turned
up over 100 trails, such as:

Bear Draft Trail
Bear Rock Trail
Beards Gap Trail
Beards Mountain Trail
Gillam Run Trail
Mountain Top Trail
Gilliam Run Trail
Shoestring Creek Bear Wallow Creek Trail
Bear Peak Trail
Bear Den Trail
Big Bear Gulch Ski Trail
Bear Paw Ski Trail
Bear Brook Trail
Bear Mountain Ski Trail
Bear Mountain Trail

and so on.

Between the information, and the GNIS database, I believe
you have two rich resources that should serve as good tools for your
web-building project.

However, if there's anything else you need, just let me know by
posting a Request for Clarification, and I'm at your service.

All the best,


search strategy -- Used bookmarked sites for government and geographic information
lanfor-ga rated this answer:3 out of 5 stars

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