Calculating true distance traveled across topography from one patch to another

Discussion created by mali0332 on Mar 17, 2011
Hi, my objective is more or less to calculate the distance to the nearest neighbor, but including topography.

I want to calculate the distance a mouse would have to travel in a hilly environment if it were to travel from one habitat patch to another.  I have a DEM file and a shapefile outlining the boundaries of the patches of interest.  I have tried using the "cost-weighted distance" function in spatial analyst with the patch boundaries file in the "distance to" field and the DEM in the "cost raster" field and defaults for everything else, but this gives me a continuous output with numbers that mean nothing to me. 

Any help would be gratefully appreciated!