Community Story: Lace Up For A Nine Mile National Park Hike

Our community member and Mapillary Ambassador @talllguy is a passionate photo mapper. He brings Mapillary in his car, on his bike and on his runs. He has captured almost 250,000 photos (!) in Maryland, U.S. Last weekend he brought Mapillary on a nine mile hike through three of America's national parks. Here's his #MapYourPark story.

It looks like you brought Mapillary on an adventure last weekend?

That’s right! My wife and I decided to do a nine-mile day hike out at and around Harpers Ferry, West Virginia that would include traveling through three U.S. national parks, and one state park. We hiked over nine miles through the Chesapeake & Ohio National Historical Park, the Appalachian Trail National Scenic Trail, and the Harpers Ferry National Historic Park. Sections along the Appalachian Trail took us through Maryland’s South Mountain State Park as well.

Strava map showing the trail.

What inspired you to do this walk?

Through my consulting work developing a tool for Maryland State Highway Administration to inventory park & ride facilities, I discovered that there is a little known park & ride right along the Appalachian Trail. This trailhead provides access to a few destinations that I had been wanting to explore, so I made the plans for a trip. I’ve also been wanting to do more hiking lately, and this area seemed to have a concentration of interesting things.

How did you plan your walk?

I used the Strava routing tool to plan the route, because it uses OpenStreetMap data to power the routing engine, and because I have mapped many of the trails out this way on OpenStreetMap. Despite hours of “armchair-mapping”, I hadn’t actually been out for a visit, and so I knew one was due. I looked at destination near the park & ride and found that a round trip to Weverton Cliffs and Harpers Ferry seemed doable, based on the elevation profile and online reviews of the trails. Once I had a route in mind, I thought about how I could could record Mapillary shots at the same time. I chose the rugged Virb XE, which I’ve been testing for the multiple camera mode feature. A few weeks before I purchased a GoPro chest strap and tested that out on some running trails. The results were nice! Knowing I’d be out hiking for a few hours, I brought a portable battery charger and the Virb XE cable as well.

What is your best advice about using Mapillary on a walk?

Although it looks pretty weird, the chest mount is the best way to record a walk because it frees your hands to do other things, like eating a snack or holding your partner’s hand. Pick a camera that can to take time lapse photos every two seconds or so, with enough memory to save them all. In low light conditions, there will be some blurry shots. Try to keep your hands low and outside of the frame. To compensate, move the mount up high on your chest. Finally, have fun and enjoy the scenery.

A warm thank you to @talllguy for sharing his #MapYourPark story. Have you been photo mapping in a national park? We would love to hear your story. Reach out to us at

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