Trail Checking Help Wanted

We’re working on a new edition of our Walking Trails guidebook, which will have all-new maps developed by the City GIS Department in cooperation with the Conservation Commission and the Parks, Recreation, and Culture Department.

We are seeking volunteers to walk the trails to identify the location of these features to be included on the maps:

  • Benches
  • Picnic tables
  • Accessible trail segments
  • Accessible parking spaces
  • Off-street parking lots
  • No-parking signs on street at trailhead
  • No bicycling signs at park trailhead (we know that there’s no biking in any Newton Conservation area)
  • Stone walls (at intersection with a trail)
  • Stone walls (parallel to trail)
  • Stairs
  • Bridges
  • Boardwalks (raised structure that extends the full width of the trail, such as at Dolan Pond–see image below)

  • Duckboards (low, narrow structure on part of the trail width, such as at Cold Spring Park)

Volunteers will walk a trail and report the location of these features using a Google Form.  You’ll need a smartphone with the Google Maps app. Here’s the process:

Find a property you want to check.  The list of properties that need checking is in this file.  To avoid duplication of effort, we’re asking volunteers to “claim” a property they want to check.  Please fill out Columns D, E, and F to claim one.  As you do your work, and when you’re done, keep us posted by updating Column G.

Especially for larger properties, feel free to claim just a section, or a trail.  Put your plans in Column G.  We may divide the property onto separate lines to let other people sign up for other portions.

Please note that some properties on the list, such as Webster Woods/Hammond Pond, have some land that’s a Newton conservation area, and other land that’s a city park or that’s owned by DCR or another entity.  We have a good inventory of the features in the Newton conservation areas, so please focus your efforts on the land controlled by other owners.

To save you the trouble of reporting features we already know about, we suggest that you look at the trail you plan to check on the current version of the GIS map.  (Note:  this version of the map can be slow to load, and to update as you move it around the city.)  A view of the GIS map that’s much faster to work with, but doesn’t have recent edits, can be seen on your smartphone in the free Avenza app.  Instructions are here.

You also might want to look at the list of reports we’ve received so far.  But if you’re in doubt about whether to report a feature, go ahead and do it.

The essential part of this job is for you to report the exact location of each feature  using this Google Form, which you’ll open on your smartphone:

Newton Trail Report Form

As you proceed through the form, you’ll get to a screen that looks like this:

(The screen will have two location fields if you’re reporting a feature like a boardwalk that extends for a distance along the trail.)

We need to you find your location using the Google Maps app, copy it, and paste it into the Location field.  The instructions to the location question have a link to this file with detailed instructions on how to record the location:

Find Trail Feature Location

You may want to try filling out the form at home, just to be sure the process works for you.

Thanks for helping with this project.  If you run into any problems, please email Dan Brody: