Map the trails and terrain

You'll open a web map and add a trails layer. You'll also add layers from ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World to show the terrain around the trails.

Open and save the map

First, you'll open a map of the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

  1. Go to the ArcGIS Online group Hiking Red Rock Canyon.

    The group contains one item: a web map titled Hiking Red Rock Canyon by Learn_ArcGIS.

  2. Click the thumbnail to open the web map.

    Hiking Red Rock Canyon thumbnail

    The map opens to the area around Las Vegas, Nevada, where Red Rock Canyon is located.

    Default map

    The map shows the boundaries of Red Rock Canyon set by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). It also shows the location of the Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center, where hikers go for trail information. You'll save your own copy of the map to make changes to it.

  3. If you are not signed in to your ArcGIS organizational account, click Sign In and sign in with your credentials.

    If you don't have an organizational account, you can sign up for an ArcGIS free trial.

  4. On the ribbon, click the Save button and choose Save As.
  5. In the Save Map window, in the Title box, type Red Rock Canyon Hiking Map. Leave the tags unchanged.
  6. For the summary, type This map was created to assist hikers in planning their day at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

    Save Map window

  7. Click Save Map.

    The map's name change is reflected at the top of the page. The map is saved to My Content, which you can access from the content page (from the Home menu, choose Content).

Add the trails

Next, you'll add the Red Rock Canyon Trails layer to the map.

  1. On the ribbon, click the Add button and choose Search for Layers.

    Search for Layers

  2. Click the drop-down arrow and choose ArcGIS Online.
  3. In the Find box, type Red Rock Canyon Trails. To limit the search results to layers owned by the Learn ArcGIS administrator account, add owner:Learn_ArcGIS. Press Enter to initiate the search.

    Search for Red Rock Canyon Trails

  4. In the list of results, locate Red Rock Canyon Trails by Learn_ArcGIS. Click the Plus button to add the layer to the map.

    Add Red Rock Canyon Trails layer

  5. In the search pane, click the Back button to return to the content pane.
  6. In the Contents pane, point to the Red Rock Canyon Trails layer. Click the More Options button and choose Zoom to.

    Zoom to Trails Layer

    The map zooms to the extent of the layer.

    Trails layer

    The trails span much of the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Currently, the terrain and difficulty of the trails aren't apparent.

  7. Click the vertical ellipsis next to the Red Rock Canyon Trails layer and drag the layer below the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area layer.

Show the terrain

The map currently uses the National Geographic basemap. ArcGIS Online basemaps are part of ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World, a collection of authoritative maps and data from Esri and thousands of other organizations. They can be used as reference data to contextualize your layers. You'll change the basemap to better show terrain.

  1. On the ribbon, click the Basemap button to open the Basemap Gallery. Click Terrain with Labels.

    Basemap gallery

    The Terrain with Labels basemap depicts elevation through an effect called hillshading. Hillshading draws shadows on a map to simulate how the sun's rays affect the terrain from a certain angle. The hillshade effect gives an idea of the terrain and elevation around the trails.

    Terrain with Labels basemap on map

    In addition to basemaps, Living Atlas includes landscape layers that can be used for visualization and analysis. You can add these layers to the map as either basemaps or layers. You'll add three landscape layers: the Multi-Directional Hillshade layer, which calculates hillshade from six directions; the Slope Map layer, which gives a colorized representation of the terrain's slope; and the World Reference Overlay, which shows roads and labels key locations.

  2. On the ribbon, click the Add button and choose Browse Living Atlas Layers.

    Browse Living Atlas Layers

  3. In the Living Atlas search pane, click Filter.

    Apply a search filter

  4. In the Filter pane, expand Categories. Click Environment, Elevation and bathymetry.

    Set filter categories

  5. In the search dialog, type hillshade and press Enter.

    Search result

  6. In the search results, locate Terrain: Multi-Directional Hillshade, click the item to open up the layer description pane. In the layer description pane, click Use as Basemap.

    Add to map as basemap

    The Multi-Directional Hillshade layer replaces the Terrain with Labels basemap.

  7. Search for slope and add the Terrain: Slope Map to the map as a layer.

    Add to map as layer

    The Slope Map layer is added as a layer, similar to the Red Rock Canyon Trails layer that you added earlier.

  8. In the Filter pane, expand Categories, Boundaries.
  9. In the search dialog, type overlay and add World Boundaries and Places to the map.

    Add World Reference Overlay

  10. In the Living Atlas search pane, click the Back arrow to return to the contents pane.

    The World Reference Overlay layer has a preset visibility range. At high zoom levels, the layer won't appear on the map.

  11. In the Contents pane, point to the World Boundaries and Places layer. Click the More Options button and choose Set Visibility Range.
  12. Drag the Visible Range slider to the end of the range.

    Visible Range

    The World Reference Overlay layer can now be seen at all zoom levels.

    Another issue is that the Slope Map layer covers the Multi-Directional Hillshade basemap. You'll make the Slope Map layer transparent so you can see both layers at once.

  13. In the Contents pane, point to the Slope Map layer. Click the More Options button and choose Transparency.
  14. Drag the Layer Transparency slider to approximately 60 percent.

    Layer Transparency

    The Slope Map layer becomes darker the steeper the terrain is. When it's draped over the Multi-Directional Hillshade layer, you can see both steepness and shaded relief at high elevations.

  15. Save the map.

Symbolize the trails by difficulty

Now that you've added background layers, you'll symbolize the trails so users have an idea of each trail's difficulty.

  1. In the Contents pane, point to the Red Rock Canyon Trails layer and click the Change Style button.

    Change Style

    The currently selected style is Location (Single symbol). In this style, all layer features have the same symbol. This style is appropriate when you want to see the features on the map, but you're not interested in their unique characteristics. You want to show the difficulty of each trail, so you'll change the drawing style.

  2. For the attribute to show, choose Difficulty.

    Choose an attribute to show

  3. Under Select a drawing style, click the Options button for Types (Unique symbols).

    Select a drawing style

    The Change Style pane changes to show several style options, as well as the difficulty attributes and the symbol for each. The attributes range from Easy to Strenuous, although their order is incorrect.

  4. Click the vertical ellipsis next to Strenuous and drag the label above Moderate to reorder the attributes.

    Reorder attributes

    The default symbols don't convey increases in difficulty very well.

  5. Click the green line next to Strenuous. In the window that appears, choose the darkest purple color (#4C0073).

    Dark purple color

  6. Click OK.
  7. Change the Moderate symbol to the medium purple color (#A900E6).

    Medium purple color

  8. Change the Easy – Moderate symbol to the second-lightest purple color (#DF73FF).

    Light purple color

  9. Change the Easy symbol to the lightest purple color (#E8BEFF).

    Lightest purple color

  10. Next to Count, click the Symbols button.

    Symbols button

  11. Change the Line Width to 3 pixels and click OK.
  12. At the bottom of the Change Style pane, click OK and click Done.
  13. Save the map.

Configure the pop-ups and legend

The default pop-up for the trails isn't user-friendly. In this section, you'll configure the pop-up so it conveys information more clearly. You'll also remove the pop-up for the Slope Map layer and remove the layer from the legend.

  1. Click any trail to view the default pop-up.

    Default pop-up

    The attribute names are formatted in all capital letters and with underscores instead of spaces.

  2. Close the pop-up.
  3. In the Contents pane, point to the Red Rock Canyon Trails layer. Click the More Options button and choose Configure Pop-up.
  4. Under Pop-up Contents, keep the display set to a list of field attributes. Below the list of attributes, click Configure Attributes.

    Configure Attributes

    The Configure Attributes window appears.

  5. In the Field Alias column, click NAME to make the text editable. Type Trail and press Enter.

    Trail field alias

    An alias is a display name that replaces the field name in a pop-up or table. Aliases can be changed to something more informative or understandable.

  6. Change the following field aliases:
    • DIFFICULTY to Difficulty
    • TIME_HOURS to Time (Hours)
    • DISTANCE_MILES to Distance (Miles)
    • DISTANCE_KILOMETERS to Distance (Kilometers)
    • ELEVATION_CHANGE_FEET to Elevation Change (Feet)
    • ELEVATION_CHANGE_METERS to Elevation Change (Meters)

    Field Alias changes

  7. Click OK in the Configure Attributes window.
  8. At the bottom of the Configure Pop-up pane, click OK.
  9. Click a trail to view the new pop-up.

    Final pop-up

    The pop-up is easier to understand.

  10. Close the pop-up.

    A pop-up for the Slope Map layer won’t provide useful information in your app, so you’ll disable it.

  11. In the Contents pane, point to the Terrain: Slope Map layer. Click the More Options button and choose Remove Pop-up.

    Finally, you'll make sure the legend conveys only relevant information about the map.

  12. At the top of the Contents pane, click the Legend button.

    Legend button

    All layers except the basemap have a legend entry. The entries for the Slope Map and World Boundaries and Places layers are not useful for interpreting the map.

  13. At the top of the Legend pane, click the Content button.
  14. In the Contents pane, point to the Terrain: Slope Map layer. Click the More Options button and choose Hide in Legend.

    The Slope Map legend entry no longer appears in the legend.

  15. Hide the legend entry for the World Boundaries and Places layer.
  16. Save the map.

Edit the web map's item details

When you first saved the web map, you provided a title, summary, and tags. The title and summary appear in the map’s About pane. You can also review and edit this information on its item page, where you can add more information, such as a description, and set additional properties.

  1. At the top of the Contents pane, click About and click More Details.

    The map's item page opens in a new window. Notice that the Description section is already populated for your map. This description came from the original map that you used to create your map.

  2. For Terms of Use, click Edit and type None.
  3. Click Save.

    From the item page, you can also monitor map usage to gauge its popularity, edit settings such as the map extent, and share the map with others. (You'll share the map in the next lesson.)

You've created a web map for the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

Create trail elevation profiles

You'll now share your web map as a web app for kiosks in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area Visitor Center. To do this, you'll use the Elevation Profile template. This template shows an elevation profile for each trail, which will assist visitors in choosing trails to explore.

Create the Elevation Profile web app

An Elevation Profile web app shows the distance and elevation profile of features on the map. An elevation profile is a graphic depicting elevation change over a distance. The elevation profile will help hikers plan their trips based on the elevation gain and difficulty of the trail.

  1. If necessary, open the item page for your Red Rock Canyon Hiking Map.

    You can access the map’s item details from My Content.

  2. On the Overview tab, click Share.


  3. In the Share window, check the box to share the item with your organization. Click Save.

    Now that the map is shared, you will make the web app.

  4. On the item page, click Create Web App and choose Configure App.

    Create Web App button

    A warning may appear notifying you that this map contains premium content layers. You can view the link to learn more. Click OK.

    A gallery of the available web app templates opens. Some are designed for specific purposes; others are for general use.

  5. In the Create a web app window, in the Search box, type Elevation to filter the templates.
  6. Select the Elevation Profile template, and then click Create Web App.

    Elevation Profile template

  7. For the title, type Red Rock Canyon Hiking App. Leave the tags unchanged.
  8. For the summary, type This app will help you plan your hike in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.
  9. Click Done.

    Configure window

    The Configure window appears with a preview of your web app. You can customize map and search settings, among others. First, you'll add a legend so end users can quickly determine the difficulty of the trails.

  10. Click the Options tab, and check the Enable legend box.


  11. Click Save to preview the change.

    Preview of web app

    The Display legend button now appears below the Zoom In and Zoom Out buttons.

    Notice that the title and subtitle in the Elevation Profile app come from the Title and Summary fields of the web map item details instead of the web app details. You can override this default.

  12. Click the General tab.
  13. For the title, type Red Rock Canyon Hiking Trails.
  14. For the description, type Use this app as a tool when planning your day. Click a trail to view its details.
  15. Click Save.

    The text that appears in the web app is now more relevant to the end user.

  16. At the bottom of the Configure window, click Close.

    The app’s item page opens. By default, the web app has the same sharing properties as the web map. In this case, your app and map are both shared with your organization.

Edit the app's item details

The item title, summary, and tags are already completed from when you first created the web app. You still need to add a description and credit your sources.

  1. On the item page, next to Description, click Edit.


  2. In the Edit Description box, type This app shows the trails located in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The goal of the app is to help hikers appropriately plan their day according to abilities and resources, in an effort to minimize the number of rescues. Users can click a trail to see details such as the name, difficulty level, estimated time to complete, length in miles and kilometers, and elevation change.
  3. Click Save.
  4. For Credits (Attribution), click Edit and type Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management.
  5. Click Save.

    You can reopen the app's configuration page by clicking Configure App (near the top of the page).

Use the app

Now that the app has been created, you'll see how it might help tourists with varying levels of hiking abilities. First, a group with small children uses the app. They want an easy trail that isn't too long.

  1. At the top of the item page, click the thumbnail image to open the application. (You can also click View Application.)

    View Application

  2. In the upper left corner of the app window, click the Display legend button and expand the Red Rock Canyon Trails layer to show its symbology.

    Display legend button and legend for trails

  3. On the map, click the only easy trail, Moenkopi Loop.

    Moenkopi Loop

    The Elevation Profile Chart appears and a pop-up opens.

    Elevation Profile graph for Moenkopi Loop

  4. Move the pointer over the elevation profile.

    Elevation marker

    A blue circle appears to show the corresponding location on the map. This trail takes about an hour and a half to complete. It's 2.3 miles long and the elevation gain is only 24 feet. It may take longer to complete with children, but this should be a good choice.

    Next, three experienced hikers use the app.

  5. Click the longer strenuous trail on the map, Grand Circle Adventure.

    Grand Circle Adventure

    To hike this trail, the hikers would need to prepare for a full day's hike, but it’s too late in the day. They decide to start with the easy trail from the Visitor Center, and then branch off to this longer strenuous trail, but only hike a portion of it. They can generate a custom elevation profile to determine if this is a good plan.

  6. Close the pop-up. Click away from the trails to clear the selection. (If necessary, close the Elevation pop-up.)
  7. In the Elevation Profile Chart, click the pencil icon.

    Pencil icon

  8. Click in the map to start drawing a line from the Visitor Center. (Zoom in, if necessary.)
  9. Continue clicking along the southern portion of the easy loop trail and the strenuous trail that it connects to.
  10. Stop tracing when the trail branches off to the moderate trail; double-click to complete the line.

    Traced custom trail

    The elevation profile updates for your custom trail.

  11. Move the pointer along the graph to the end.

    Custom trail details

    The hikers' custom trail is approximately 3.6 miles with an elevation change of 680 feet. (Your results may vary.)

  12. Close the app.

In this lesson, you created an app for use in kiosks at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. You added content from ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World as background reference information to show the elevation and slope around the trails. With this app, hikers can make more-informed decisions about their day, leading to safer and more enjoyable experiences for all.

You can find more lessons in the Learn ArcGIS Lesson Gallery.