To create a snowmobile trail map, ads need to be sold and then coordinated with the mapmaker, re-routes need to be marked, information needs to be proofed, and then after the maps are printed, they need to be distributed to all of the advertisers.
I learned about this legwork a year ago when the county snowmobile trails association where I call home drafted a new map. In addition to all of that logistical stuff, mapmakers have any other things to consider in order to make their map especially informational.
Here are five criteria that make a snowmobile trail map go from average to awesome. Have you helped produce a trail map or do you have suggestions? Leave them in the ‘comments’ section at the bottom of the page.
1. Easy To Read — Considering the age of the average snowmobiler these days is about 45 years old, information on a snowmobile trail map needs to be clean and easy to read. And since most snowmobilers aren’t likely to wear their cheater reading glasses while riding, essential information like mileage points, trails, lakes, towns and road names needs to be called out in a large, clean font.
2. Durable — An awesome snowmobile trail map needs to be printed on good, quality paper so it’s durable and folds up to fit inside a coat pocket for quick, easy access when it’s needed. Snowmobile trail maps often face abusive elements like wind and snow, and if the paper can’t stand up to a little moisture or a wisp of air, it will tear or be difficult to re-fold. This isn’t to say that all snowmobile trail maps need to be printed on space-age materials, but a coated, medium-weight paper should be used so the map will last for more than one snowy trail ride.
3. Up To Date — We’ve used current maps and followed a trail to a gas stop, only to find the place was boarded up — and it looked like it had been closed for at least several years. Map information needs to be up to date so riders won’t be sent on a wild goose chase to find fuel, shelter or a hot cup of coffee.
4. Include Key Information — There are four things most snowmobilers need to know while riding: where to get fuel; distance between trail junctions or towns; places to eat and warm up; and maybe lodging — especially in rural areas. Having this information on a snowmobile trail map helps riders plan their routes, find fuel, shelter or emergency help. Symbols for gas stations, restaurants, lodging and repair shops make these locations obvious, or else putting relevant businesses’ logos on the map with a pinpoint works, too. Clubs can up-charge advertisers for this added value, too.
5. Have Context — Snowmobile trail maps need to include information like lake names, road names and other landmarks in order to be awesome. Without context on a map, users second-guess every move. But if a snowmobile trail map has roads labeled and someone loses the trail, they could read road signs and find a route that leads them back to the trail.
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