ITA is offering a new and exciting way to volunteer. We need hikers to help us collect accurate and up-to-date information about the location and condition of Idaho’s hiking trails. As you may have found, many Forest Service maps are out-dated and do not accurately depict the location and condition of hiking trails. GPS tracks and trail data collected by volunteers will be used by ITA to update our Trail Reporter Map, produce reliable trail maps, and select future trail maintenance projects.

In 2024, we will focus our initial efforts on the southwest corner of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area. Our goal is to inventory approximately 370 miles of trails in the focal area this year.

How do I sign up?

Please contact ITA if you are interested in signing up for ITA’s Trail Scouting Program and watch the training video below to get started!

After you have watched the training video, ITA will help you select one or more trails from our focal area in the southwest corner of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness to inventory. Volunteers can view the focal area on ITA’s Trail Reporter Map, which illustrates the trails that need to be scouted this year as well as the trails that have already been scouted.

What do I need to scout a trail?

  • A GPS unit.
  • Enough batteries to power your device for the duration of your trip.
  • Download and print one Trail Data Form for each trail that you plan to scout.
  • A ball point pen or pencil to fill out the form.
  • A clipboard (optional).
  • Your hiking or backpacking gear.
  • A hiking partner for safety.

Do I have an acceptable GPS unit?

  • Multiband GPS units are required in mountainous environments to ensure accuracy. Acceptable devices include:
    • Garmin GPSMAP 65
    • Garmin GPSMAP 65s
    • Garmin GPSMAP 66r
    • Garmin GPSMAP 67
    • Garmin GPSMAP 67i
  • Standard GPS units are acceptable for use in areas with gentle terrain.
  • Messaging and emergency communication devices lack the accuracy and device settings needed for this program.
  • Cell phones and wrist watches similarly lack the accuracy needed for this program.
  • If you have questions about the capabilities of your device, please consult ITA.
  • ITA has two GPS units that can be loaned to volunteers for this program.

Are there any special settings that I need to enter into my GPS unit?

  • Set your GPS unit to record tracks using a distance interval rather than a time interval.
  • Set the distance interval to 0.01 miles (50 feet or 15 meters).
  • Set your datum to the North American Datum of 1983 (NAD 83).
  • Set your projection to Universal Transverse Mercator, Zone 11 North (UTM Zone 11N).
  • If you are spending several days in the backcountry, battery power is a consideration. Set your device’s backlight to turn off when you are not using the screen. This will greatly reduce battery consumption and the need to replace your batteries.
  • Turn your track logging or recording function ON when you want to record a GPS track. Turn your track logging or recording function OFF when you are done recording a GPS track.

How do I submit my GPS tracks and data forms?

GPS tracks must be downloaded in GPX format. Trail Data Forms can be scanned or photographed with a cell phone. GPS tracks and data forms can be emailed to ITA.