We are often asked about the availability of printed maps and there are none currently available. At one time we had an agreement with a print-on-demand company to print and ship maps when they were ordered but that company disappeared overnight without notice – which might tell us something!
A disclaimer, we do actually have a set of maps at a scale of 2 miles to the inch, however, they are out of date with the Turn-by-Turn (TBT) and GPX data and do not accurately represent the trail as it exists today.
There are several difficulties in providing printed maps. The first and most significant problem is simply keeping them up to date. The trail changes route frequently as the constituent trails re-align themselves, or better off-road alternatives are found, or parts of the trail become inaccessible, and so on. Our maps are generated by hand from GPX data, changes to the route may impact several maps and the effects of even a small change have a tendency to ripple through a number of adjoining maps.
Secondly, there are so many of them! For instance Utah alone has 98. How do we package that number of pages? How do we price the maps? Who is going to print them? What should they be printed on? Waterproof paper? We simply cannot have a large run of that many maps printed in advance because of the wastage when changes occur. If you have suggestions on packaging, pricing or printing please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org or in our Facebook Group.
A third, more minor problem, is the naming of the maps, the current maps are simply numbered for each state from east to west, how can they be named in a meaningful way? Finding significant features on each of the 1000+ maps to use as their names would be a huge job and require yet more maintenance. Using the maps with just their numbered sequence is quite inconvenient.
Even if the production logistics can be overcome the route update issue remains, we really need to find a way to generate the maps automatically from the base GPX data. The maps have a trace of the route plus the TBT waypoint names on them which is obtained from the GPX data.
We ran a poll on Facebook and there was significant support for the production of printed maps, we recognize this and are trying to find a solution, but none has appeared that could be reasonably implemented.
Our current suggestion is that you purchase the GPX data and upload it into a program which can produce a suitable map on the screen which you can then print, Google Maps is one such common application although it doesn’t provide a topo map. This is a much more flexible solution than we will ever be able to provide, you can choose both the scale and location of your maps to suite your own needs, it does need some minor technical skills of course. Please remember that the data is copyrighted, you may not make these uploads public. The ADTS currently relies on income from TBT and GPX sales as part of its operating income.
A word from the author Bob Palin. Although I am a total geek and normally use my phone or a tablet with the GPX displayed on my short hikes on the ADT I do find printed maps useful as well. They are particularly useful in questionable areas where the trail is hard to follow or changes on the ground have occurred. The larger format and larger area covered by a paper map is better for recognizing geographical features than the limited coverage of a screen.
Further discussion about printed maps is welcomed in the Facebook Group.