Forney Creek Trail

The Forney Creek Trail overlaid over aerial LiDAR data derived DEM, with a graph of the elevation over the length of the trail.

A friend of mine and I recently went to Great Smokey Mountains National Park to go camping. We had initially planned on camping at the Spruce Mountain campsite, but the road to get there was closed until later in the season, so we had to find somewhere else. We settled upon the Steeltrap campsite along the Forney Creek Trail, which starts at Clingmans Dome and is 3.1 miles down to the campsite. I highly recommend the Steeltrap campsite, it is a beautiful location, the hike down, and a fairly quiet trail. The Forney Creek doesn’t show up until close to the end of the hike to the campsite, where you have to cross either over a tree trunk placed specifically to crawl across (first photo), or shallow part of the creek a few yards up the trail.

The creek also has a large rock that it glides over right before the campsite as seen in the second photo. Steeltrap WaterfallThe waterfall becomes quite the deluge in the rain, we made it and set up just in time before it started raining on our side of the mountain, however I had the displeasure of finding my old tent has a bunch of holes in the bottom tarp.
After getting back to Tampa, I wanted to look at our camping trip in GIS. I downloaded LiDAR data from USGS Earth Explorer for the wide area around the Forney Creek Trail, and brought it into ArcMap as a LAS Dataset. I then filtered for ground points, and used the LAS Dataset to Raster tool to create a 1 foot digital elevation model (DEM) using IDW binning.
I then tried to find a trail shapefile, but to no avail, so I downloaded the USGS 7.5 minute quadrangle maps from before the current generation of maps, and georeferenced the maps with their corners. As a side note, the current generation of USGS 7.5 minute topos are disappointing with their lack of some of the older maps information, trails are noticeably missing. So after georeferencing the topos, I traced the Forney Creek trail down to the Steeltrap campsite.
I then used the 3D analyst tool Stack Profile to join the trail line feature class to the 1 foot DEM, and output a table and graph of the trail. I made the following graphic for my Facebook banner image which shows the DEM, trail, and graph.

I then wanted to make a 3D print of the trail for my hiking buddy and I. I exported the DEM from ArcMap to an 8 bit Unsigned png file using the Copy Raster tool. I then Imported the DEM png as a plane in Blender. I then went into edit mode in Blender, and subdivided the surface 1000 times so I could then used the displace tool on the plane. I then solidified the surface so I had a printable object, and I clipped some parts (using the boolean tool) to make the final shape as seen in the last picture. I then indented some text into the side of the object using the boolean tool again, and exported the final object to an STL. The STL was prepared for printing on a Makerbot Replicator 2 using Makerware.