Creating Trails Databases Using GIS Technologies

A Tale of Two Perspectives

The task of developing GIS databases.

by Robert Spurlock, Associate Regional Planner, Metro, Max Woodbury, GIS Specialist, Metro, Jenny Konwinski, GIS Technical Lead, Reid Ammann

Presenters: Robert Spurlock, Regional Trails Planner, Oregon Metro; Max Woodbury, GIS Specialist, Oregon Metro Research Center; Jenny Konwinski, GIS Technical Lead, Washington State Trails; Reid Ammann, Washington State Trails Database Project

GIS is a powerful tool for planning and managing trails. Many efforts to build comprehensive trail databases are currently underway around the country. Two Pacific Northwest organizations discuss how they approached the task of developing their GIS databases. Metro, the Portland-area regional government, designed and built a database for over 3,000 miles of trails, while the State of Washington is currently building a standardized database for approximately 11,000 miles of trails.

View This Presentation Online

About the Authors

Robert Spurlock is an Associate Regional Planner with Metro. He has more than 10 years of experience in urban planning and natural area land management. His project work includes regional trail master planning, active transportation system planning, site planning, right-of-way acquisition, and public involvement. Prior to Metro, Robert worked in Managua, Nicaragua as an Afro-Caribbean music promoter, high school teacher and restorer of liberation theology-themed murals. He holds a B.A. in geography and urban studies from Macalester College, and has completed graduate coursework in urban and regional planning at Portland State University.

Max Woodbury is a GIS Specialist with Metro’s Research Center. He has over 15 years of experience working with spatial data in the area of natural resources, parks and natural areas, and trail planning. In his spare time he plays wheelchair rugby, serves as Treasurer for the non-profit radio station,, and coaches his sons’ basketball team. He holds a B.S. in geology and environmental science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has completed coursework in GIS and urban planning at Portland State University.

Contact: [email protected]

Jenny Konwinski is the GIS Technical Lead for the Washington Statewide Trails Project and has been involved with the effort since April 2014. She has been working with GIS and related technologies since 1994. She has provided computer mapping and analytics support in the water and biological resources management fields and in local government and education initiatives in Florida and North Carolina. Jenny and her husband enjoy exploring Washington's amazing trails whenever they can and look forward to hiking and biking many more in the future!

Reid Ammann has been working on the Washington State Trails Database Project since it began in January of 2014. While taking night classes for GIS at the University of Washington, Reid and his classmate were offered a chance to start up the proposed Trails Database project. When the project got funding 6 months later, he joined the team as a part time data analyst. He is now working on the project full time as well as leading a similar project with a group of UW students building a trailheads database. After graduating from the University of Washington with a business degree, Reid was first introduced to GIS working as crew leader in the Nevada Conservation Corps building hiking trails in the backcountry. In between teaching English in South Korea and Chile, Reid took a GIS introduction class, which qualified him for the year-long certificate program where he began working on the Trails Project.

More articles by These authors

More Articles in this Category

Signage Solutions for Every Trail System

Pannier is the leading manufacturer of signs, panels, exhibit bases, and frames. With a full line of exhibit bases, there is a product for every trail and wayside application.

Walton Family Foundation Trail Program Implementation

The goal of this report is to highlight greenway trail programs, policy, funding, and design trends, as well as best practices. This peer city and aspirational city report summarizes data gathered from eight peer cities and two aspirational cities and compares it against data from the Northwest Arkansas (NWA) region.

Three Hidden Health Benefits of Hiking, 2021 Edition Guide

Hiking is widely recognized as one of the healthiest hobbies anyone can have, and for a good reason too. When we break it down to plain physics, walking activates most muscle groups, which not only keeps us in shape but also conditions us to become more resilient to all bodily ailments and harms.

FAQ: Trail Graduate Programs

Are there any graduate programs that are focused on trail planning, development, and design?