One of Our Big Bend Hikes

Hike GPS data overlaid on the National Geographic topo basemap

Once you have a little ArcGIS under your belt, you find yourself applying it to the things you do. In late 2018, my son’s BSA troop went to Big Bend National Park, and I captured some GPS track data while we were hiking. When I got home, I merged the track data and some basemaps in ArcMap. Starting from my previous poster layout and adjusting to 8.5×11 was pretty straightforward. Now I’ll have something to work from the next time I need that size.

I really like the National Geographic USA basemap in ArcGIS for this kind of thing. I’d also purchased a physical, waterproof version of the NG map (#225) at the park store. You can get your own copy here. The trails for this area are not as detailed on the 1:133,333 physical map. I still think it’s worth getting.

Our partial hike up the Marufo Vega / Strawhouse trail was fun. We started at the parking lot along the road at the bottom of the map and went North. Where you see the tracks deviate under the E in VALLEY, we missed the Strawhouse Trail’s ascension out of the creek bed. We ended up hiking through a nice slot canyon to the West before we hit our 2.5 mile turnaround point.

Up and out through the slot canyon

On the way back we discovered the correct trail, and returned via the “high road”.

Down and back over the saddle

Both tracks were enjoyable for their own unique views.

I’ve got hundreds of great photos from the trip, and I’m considering working on full blog posts for those hikes as time permits.

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