Measure distance between points across polygon. Least Cost Path?

Discussion created by ep9k_uvalibrary on Jan 22, 2020
Latest reply on Jan 30, 2020 by jtenbrink-esristaff

How do I measure distance around an object?


Here is my situation. I am trying to measure distance between points across an area of water. The water area is broken by swamps, islands, and other pieces of land. I cannot measure Euclidean (straight line) distance between points because I need to take land into account in this scenario.


I want to do something like I've illustrated below. I have drawn a line between two points across the water, moving through islands. The screen shot is just an example but you get the idea.


I have a feature class containing the points and a feature class of the water area. 

Least-Cost path solutions seem like they might be a solution. Two problems with this are... a lot of examples rely on a DEM, which I don't have because sea level elevation is 0. I've tried converting my water polygon to a raster object and using this as my surface raster, but have not gotten the desired result.


I think I don't understand the least-cost path tool in ArcGIS Pro

I've read the docs for this tool. A couple things I fundamentally don't understand are...

-There is an input field for the destination data, but how about the starting point?  How does this know what to measure between?  (I have many points)


-What is the input cost backlink raster? 


Of course, the cost path tool may not be what I need after all. Can anyone offer input?