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. Open the web map Hiking Red Rock Canyon.

    Depending on your organizational and user settings, you may have opened Map Viewer. ArcGIS Online offers two map viewers for viewing, using, and creating maps. For more information on the map viewers available and which to use, please see this FAQ.

    This tutorial uses Map Viewer.

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

    Hiking Red Rock Canyon 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.

  2. 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, see options for software access.

  3. On the Contents (dark) toolbar, click Save and open and choose Save as.

    Save as option

    The Save map window appears.

  4. In the Save map window, in the Title box, type Red Rock Canyon Hiking Map. Leave the tags unchanged.
  5. In the Summary box, type This map was created to assist hikers in planning their day at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.
  6. Click Save map.

    The map name changes 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 Contents toolbar, click Add and choose Browse layers.
  2. In the Browse layers pane, change My Content to ArcGIS Online.
  3. In the Search for layers 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.
  4. In the results, click the Add button for Red Rock Canyon Trails.

    Add button for the Red Rock Canyon Trails layer

    The Red Rock Canyon Trails layer is added to the map and the map zooms to the layer's extent.

    Trails layer in the map

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

  5. On the Contents toolbar, click Layers.
  6. In the Layers pane, drag the Red Rock Canyon Trails 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 Contents toolbar, click Basemap. In the basemap gallery, click Terrain with Labels.

    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, ArcGIS 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 Hybrid Reference Layer, which shows roads and labels key locations.

  2. On the Contents toolbar, click Add and choose Browse layers.
  3. Change My Content to Living Atlas.
  4. In the search box, type hillshade and press Enter.
  5. In the search results, locate Terrain: Multi-Directional Hillshade, click the item to open the layer description pane, and click Use as basemap.

    Use as basemap

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

  6. Close the layer description pane, search for slope, and add Terrain: Slope Map to the map as a layer.

    Add Slope Map layer the map

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

  7. Search for hybrid reference layer and add Hybrid Reference Layer to the map.


    You may need to scroll down to find the Hybrid Reference Layer owned by Esri.

    Add Hybrid Reference Layer

    The Terrain: 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.

  8. On the Contents toolbar, click Layers.
  9. In the Layers pane, click the Terrain: Slope Map layer.

    The Properties pane appears.

  10. In the Appearance section, drag the Transparency slider to approximately 60 percent.

    Layer transparency

    The Terrain: Slope Map layer becomes darker the steeper the terrain is. Changing its transparency allows you to see both steepness and shaded relief at high elevations.

    Map after changing slope layer transparency

  11. 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 Layers pane, click the Red Rock Canyon Trails layer.
  2. On the Settings (light) toolbar, click Styles.

    Styles button

    The Styles pane appears. The current drawing 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 without distinguishing their unique characteristics. You want to show the difficulty of each trail, so you'll change the style.

  3. For Choose attributes, click Field.
  4. In the Add fields window, select Difficulty and click Add.

    Add fields window

  5. For Pick a style, in the Types (unique symbols) box, click Style options.

    Style options button for Types (unique symbols)

    The Style options pane shows the difficulty attributes and the symbol for each. The attributes range from Easy to Strenuous, although their sequence is incorrect.

  6. Drag the Strenuous label above the Moderate label to reorder the attributes.

    Difficulty attributes in Style options pane

    The default symbols don't convey increases in difficulty very well. You'll change the color to use dark to light purple.

  7. In the Style options pane, under DIFFICULTY, click Change symbol next to Strenuous. In the Symbol style pane, for Color, click Edit.

    Setting Color in Style options pane

  8. For #, type 4c0073 and press Enter.

    Dark purple color set for Strenuous attribute

    A Hex number, like 4c0073, is a way to describe colors. The symbol color updates.

  9. Change the Moderate symbol to a medium purple color using code a900E6.
  10. Change the Easy – Moderate symbol to a lighter purple color using code df73ff.
  11. Change the Easy symbol to the lightest purple color using code e8beff.

    Next, you'll change the line width for all the symbols at once.

  12. In the Style options pane, click the Symbol style button.

    Symbol style button

  13. In the Symbol style pane, change the Width setting to 3 pixels and confirm the Adjust width automatically option is checked.

    Set the width to 3 pixels

  14. In the Style options pane, click Done. In the Styles pane, click Done.
  15. Save the map.

Configure the pop-ups and legend

In this section, you'll configure the fields to more clearly convey information in the pop-up. You'll also remove the Slope Map 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, which isn't user-friendly.

  2. In the Layers pane, click the Red Rock Canyon Trails layer to access its settings.
  3. On the Settings toolbar, click Fields.

    Configure fields button

  4. In the Fields pane, click the NAME field.

    NAME field

  5. In the Formatting window, change Display name to Trail and click Done.

    The change is reflected in the open pop-up.

  6. Change Display name for the other fields as follows:
    • DIFFICULTY to Difficulty
    • TIME_HOURS to Time (Hours)
    • MILES to Distance (Miles)
    • KILOMETERS to Distance (Kilometers)
    • ELEVATION_CHANGE_FEET to Elevation Change (Feet)
    • ELEVATION_CHANGE_METERS to Elevation Change (Meters)

    Changes for display names

  7. Close the Fields pane.

    The pop-up is easier to understand.

    Final pop-up

  8. Close the pop-up.

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

  9. On the Contents toolbar, click Legend.

    Legend button

    All layers except the basemap and Hybrid Reference Layer have a legend entry. The entry for Terrain: Slope Map is not necessary for interpreting the map.

  10. In the Layers pane, click Terrain: Slope Map to access its properties.
  11. In the Properties pane, in the Symbology section, turn off Show in map legend.

    Turn off layer in legend

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

  12. On the Contents toolbar, click Legend to see the updated legend.
  13. Save the map.

Edit the web map's item details

When you first saved the web map, you provided a title, summary, and tags. You can review and edit this information on the map's item page, where you can add more information, such as a description, and set additional properties.

  1. On the Contents toolbar, click Map properties and click Item details.

    Map properties

    The map's item page opens in a new tab. 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.

  4. Click Share.

    Share button

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

Now that you've created and shared a web map of the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, you can use it to create an app for park visitors.

Create trail elevation profiles

You'll create a web app for kiosks at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area Visitor Center. The app will include elevation profiles for the trails to help visitors choose trails to explore.

Create a web app

You'll start with an ArcGIS Instant Apps template that includes the elevation profile capability to show the distance and elevation of trail 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 Create Web App and choose Instant Apps.

    Create Web App and choose Instant Apps

    A gallery of the available web apps appears. Some are designed for specific purposes; others are for general use.

  3. In the Search app capabilities box, type elevation profile and click the suggestion that appears.

    The gallery is now filtered to show only the apps for which you can configure an elevation profile. Media Map is a good choice.

  4. On the Media Map card, click Choose.

    Media Map template

  5. In the Create App - Media Map window, for the title, type Red Rock Canyon Hiking App. Leave the tags unchanged.
  6. Click Create App.

    After a few moments, the app configuration window for your Media Map appears.

    Configuration window

    The app configuration window provides several app settings and an interactive preview of your app. First, you'll include the elevation profile capability.

  7. On the vertical toolbar, click Search settings, type elevation, and click Elevation profile in the suggestions.

    Search settings with Elevation profile selected in suggestions

  8. When prompted to turn off express mode, click Continue.

    When configuring an app, you can use the default Express setup mode, which offers a subset of the configurable options. Or you can turn off Express, as you did, to access additional options and configure all the settings available for the template.

    The Interactivity settings open to the Explore section and the option for elevation profile is highlighted with an information window.

  9. Close the Elevation profile window. Turn on Elevation profile.

    The app preview updates to include a new button for the elevation profile tool. The app automatically saves as noted next to the Draft badge that appears in the configuration panel.

  10. For Elevation profile units, choose Imperial. Turn on Open the elevation profile tool when the app starts.

    Elevation profile settings

    The button for the elevation tool opens in the app preview.

    Next, you'll configure an introduction panel to provide some basic instructions for the park visitors when they first open the app.

  11. On the vertical toolbar, click About and click App details.
  12. In the App details pane, turn on the Introduction window setting. For Introduction window title, type Red Rock Canyon Hiking Trails.
  13. For Introduction window content, click Edit. In the text editor that appears, type: Use this app as a tool when planning your day. Click a trail in the map to view its details. Click the Select line button to view the elevation profile for a specific trail or click New profile for a custom trail.
  14. Click Close. Review the Introduction window preview and click Close.

    Next, you'll configure the legend so end users can quickly determine the difficulty of the trails.

  15. On the App details pane, click Back, and click Location details to access options for the legend.
  16. Verify that the Legend is turned on. For Legend style, click Classic.
  17. Turn on Open legend when app loads.

    Next, you'll change the position of the legend in the app.

  18. On the vertical toolbar, click Theme & Layout and click Position manager.
  19. Drag Legend to the Bottom left position so it's on the opposite side of the elevation profile in the app.

    Preview of app

    Next you'll publish the app.

  20. Click Publish and click Confirm.

    A success message appears when publishing is completed and the Draft badge changes to a Published badge with the date and time you published. The Share window appears, which includes a link to the app and a button to launch it in a new window.

  21. Close the Share window. On the Position manager tab, click Exit and confirm you want to Exit by clicking Exit again.

    The app's item page appears where you can add additional details and change the share status. You'll update the details page, then test the app.

Edit the app's item details

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

  1. On the item page, click Add a brief summary about the item. Type the following text and click Save: This app was created to help hikers plan their day at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.
  2. For Description, click Edit and type the following paragraph and click Save: 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. For Credits (Attribution), click Edit. Type the following text and click Save: Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management.


    To modify app settings and republish with changes, you can reopen the app's configuration page by clicking Configure.

Test the app

Now that the app has been created, you'll test how it can help tourists with varying levels of hiking abilities. For instance, 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 View.

    The app opens in a new tab. The introduction window displays with the app instructions that you added.

  2. Click Close.
  3. In the elevation profile window, click Select line.

    Select line button in elevation profile window

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

    Moenkopi Loop trail circled on the map

    The elevation profile appears for the selected line feature.

  5. Move the pointer over the elevation profile graph and expand the Ground section to see more details.

    Elevation profile window

    An orange dot appears on the map, showing the corresponding location identified on the graph.

  6. On the map, click on the Moenkopi Loop trail to open its pop-up.

    According to the feature pop-up, this trail takes about an hour and a half to complete. It's approximately 2 miles long with an elevation change of 24 feet. It may take longer to complete with children, but this should be a good choice.

    Next, you'll explore how three experienced hikers could use the app.

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

    Grand Circle Adventure trail on the map and its pop-up

    According to the information in the pop-up, to hike this trail, the hikers would need to prepare for a full day's hike (approximately 7 to 9 hours), 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.

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

    Traced custom trail in the map

    The elevation profile updates for your custom trail.

  13. Expand the Ground section to display the length and elevation change of the custom trail.

    Custom trail details

    The hikers' custom trail is approximately 3.6 miles with a cumulative elevation gain of 759 feet. (Your results may vary.)

  14. Close the app by closing its browser tab.

In this tutorial, 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, leading to safer and more enjoyable experiences.

You can find more tutorials in the tutorial gallery.