Sources and Resources

These notes combine and augment parking information from multiple sources. Why these notes in addition to the sources? There are three driving motivations: (1) Give explicit coordinates of latitude and longitude for every parking location, identified by region, section, and milepost. (2) Facilitate trip planning by linking every location to multiple mapping websites. (3) Make the information portable by means of downloadable files in several formats (GPX, PDF, ePub).

Modus Operandi

Here's my general MO.

I start with a section's ATC guidebook and map to get the main parking options by milepost. Additionally, I consult the excellent and pioneering website Appalachian Trail Parking/Access by Rohland, Cullen, et al., which often lists parking options not mentioned in the ATC guides.

Next, I find location coordinates of latitude and longitude for each parking option—a salient feature of these notes. Sometimes this is easy, sometimes this takes digging. The ATC guides do not list latitude and longitude. The ATC website does offer the ATC Interactive Map, from which I can pull some initial coordinates. It does not provide section and milepost information, however, and does not list all options. The Rohland site does not generally include explicit coordinates, although some coordinates are included in notes or implicitly in map links. Mostly, latitude and longitude are pulled from Google Maps, OpenStreetMap, or Bing Maps. Google is favored when satellite views show the parking area. OpenStreetMap is favored for AT traces. Occasionally, a trail description on the web provides coordinates or directions to a trailhead. And sometimes I must wait until I can record location on-site with my GPS receiver.

Once found, latitude and longitude are vetted on Bing Maps, Google Maps, or OpenStreetMap. That's not foolproof, but it's proved to be a decent sanity check. The notes mark the location coordinates that have been verified by wheels on the road or boots on the ground. "Wheels on the road" means that my car's GPS navigator successfully guided me to the parking area using the coordinates. "Boots on the ground" means that I recorded the coordinates on the spot with my handheld GPS receiver.

The last step adds the orientation notes and any commentary about a parking location. These merge directions from Google Maps, comments from the ATC guidebooks and from the Rohland website, and personal observations.

All of this goes into a database, and hand-crafted code generates all files from this database. (For more, see About page.)

AT Guidebooks

Here are the ATC guidebooks used in building the database:

Note that some editions are not the latest and greatest, by the way.

The Stackpole Books AT series provide directions to the trailhead for their suggested hikes, although they predate consumer GPS. Even if a little old, these guides are still useful for planning day hikes.

Attributions for Map Providers

The sectional overview maps (e.g., for PA §1) display content layers from these providers, gratefully acknowledged:

The Leaflets API does the work of drawing these maps on the web page and adding the AT waypoints from the database.

Together, the API and the data providers made it convenient to add the overview maps, which are integrated with a small chunk of homemade JavaScript along with some CSS tinkering.