One of my purposes of my Picayune Valley and Shanks Cove trip earlier this year was to create GPS tracks for the Western States and Shanks Cove trails. In the area of the saddle between the Five Lakes Creek basin and Picayune Valley, the trail alignment shown on the National Geographic Trails Illustrated maps is incorrect. It turns out, now that Trimble Outdoors has added National Forest roads and trails as an available overlay in MyTopo Maps, that the Forest Service base maps are incorrect.
The current alignment of the Western States trail as it drops into Picayune Valley is different than shown on the map. I’m pretty sure there was a trail reroute about 20 years ago, which explains this variance. For the Shanks Cove trail, the alignment from junction with the Western States trail is completely wrong. The maps show the trail going straight up the ridge, over the precipitous cliffs, which is a physical impossibility. The trail instead drops into the Shanks Cove drainage and then climbs back to the ridge crest west of the cliffs. I hope to get the Forest Service to correct their base maps, which will eventually be reflected in the National Geographic maps, other physical maps, and online maps.
It is not possible with a hosted WordPress blog to link to gpx and kmz documents, so the tracks can’t be posted here, but temporary links to the tracks on the MotionX website are available below.
- Western States Trail on MotionX (expires 2014-01-22)
- Shanks Cove Trail on MotionX (expires 2014-01-22)
I used an iPad to create these tracks, which does not have a high quality or professional GPS antenna, so both the alignment and mileage should be considered approximate.
The maps included below are not to scale, and are low resolution, so it is not possible to blow them up and see the trail alignment details. I’m still working on how to present this information, and if I figure out a better way of doing it, you’ll see it here.