Calculating the slope of a hiking trail

Blog Post created by timothy_hales-esristaff Employee on Mar 9, 2012
Trail hiking can be a fun and exciting activity when you properly prepare for the hike.  An important step for preparation is knowing the trail.  Some key factors include: length, minimum elevation, maximum elevation, and slope.  If you do not have a trail information guide, you can easily calculate this information with ArcGIS for Desktop.First you must gather a polyline file for the trail and an elevation raster for the area of interest.Add-Surface-Information-MXD.jpg

3DToolbox.jpgThen use the Add Surface Information Tool which is found in the 3D Analyst Toolbox.

This tool takes the input surface and interpolates the heights for the features by converting them to 3D in the background.  It then calculates the 3D properties for these features and writes the property values as attributes to the input feature class.

From the Add Surface Information tool dialog input these required parameters:
  • Input Feature Class: Hiking Trail Polyline Layer
  • Input Surface: Elevation Raster
  • Output Property: Select desired properties to be calculated

Once the Add Surface Information tool completes the calculation process, the selected Output Properties are appended to the input feature table.ProcessedTable1.jpg

With this information you are now able to properly plan your hiking trip.  In addition to this hiking example, there are a several other applications for this concept such as for use with bike paths, pipelines, streets, and drainage areas.Timothy H. – Raster/3D Support Analyst