Documentation on the Trails Database

Searching by Fields

This method is the most comprehensive way to search the trails database, but is also one of the most complicated ways as well. The database is laid out into columns and rows, much like a spread sheet document, with the different types of fields going across the top, and the different trails being listed downwards. What this search method allows one to do in short, is to look in a certain column for a certain item in all of the trails, and then return the full data of any trails that have that desired data.

The first step in filling out this form, is to decided by which fields you wish to search. You can choose as many or as few as you like, to create either a broad search or a very narrow one. Though, be aware of the fact that the more fields you wish to search by, the longer it will take to perform that search.

The next step is to check the boxes to the left of the fields you wish to search by. For example, if I wanted to search by trail name, I would check the box to the left of the trail name, as shown below. After the box has been checked, enter data to be searched for into the text field, as in the below example, or choose the appropriate option.

Name of Trail:

The radio buttons and drop down menus work much like they do in any other application that uses them. The most complicated option is the one for the location in the county. The two drop down menus have both two text options, and one blank option, and the last option is a simple checkbox. The way this works is that you set different options so that you get the location in the county that you want. This is a bit complicated to explain, but an example should clear it up. Below are three examples. The first one is set to search for all trails in the northwest. The second one is set to search for all trails in the south, notice how the second drop down menu is left blank. The third one is set to search for all trails in the east central areas of the county. Just set the options so that when read in a sentence like fashion they describe a general location in the county for the trail. One last thing, is that if all three are selected, as in southeast central, the central part will be ignored, and only trails found in the southeast will be returned.

Location in County: Central

Location in County: Central

Location in County: Central

The only other field that needs explanation on how to use is the length field, and the elevation gain field. Now, I only said one field needs to be explained, but here I have listed two, no I am not making a mistake, for both of these fields are very much the same, only different units on the numbers. Anyway, the first part of the field is pretty straight forward, checking the check box, and filling in the text field. The first drop down menu selects either miles or kilometers, or feet or meters, depending on which field you are working with. Just choose the appropriate units. The next drop down menu controls the search method. The 'equal' option returns all trails with a elevation gain or length of the entered amount. The 'equal and greater than' option does as the previous option, only in addition it returns all those trails that have a elevation gain or length greater than the entered amount. By now you should be able to guess what 'equal or less than' does. It returns all those trails that the 'equal' option would and all the trails with a elevation gain or length less than the amount entered. And that's it, pretty simple and straight forward.

The last part that needs some explanation is the 'Output Formatting Options' section. The pulldown menu controls in what order the outputted trails will appear, with no sorting, meaning a pretty random order, being the default. Only reason to choose this is if you don't want to wait the extra time for a sort, which is not great, but is still present. The second and last option controls the output format of the trails. It can be returned either in a table format that spans across the page, or in non-table format that just lists each trail and all of it's information downwards. The table output is much easier to read and follow, but not all browses support tables, especially line-mode browses, the main one being Lynx. As well, the table that is outputted is quite large, and will require you to scroll horizontally to see it all. This not the ideal way to output the data, but it is the best I can do at present with the limitations of HTML. Maybe at some point in the future you will be able to have the resulting table from your search be loaded directly into your spreadsheet program. But that is a job for another day. If anyone has any suggestions on how to better lay out the resulting trails from a search, I would be glad to hear them. Just email them to me at the address at the bottom of the page.

The last step is to press the "Search for the Trail(s)!' button and sit back and wait. Depending on the load on the server it should not be all that long, though if the server is really loaded, it could take a while. Except anywhere from about three minutes to six or seven minutes for the search to complete. When the search is done, you will be presented with a page outlining your search parameters and then either a list or a table of the trails that matched your search parameters. The only thing left to do is to go hike them!

Back to Searching the Trails Database by Fields

Full Text Search

The full text search is provided so that you can search all the fields of the database for a certain text string, not just a few like the searching by fields page provides. This means you can search for anything from how many times 'the' appears in the trails database (pretty boring) to searching for any trail that has the word 'lake' somewhere in it's entry in the trails database.

Searching is quite simple for the full text search. Just enter the string to be search for, it can contain multiple words and numbers, though I will not guarantee the results of entering other characters for the string, i.e. slashes, quotation marks, and other strange characters. Though be warned when entering text, you can get some strange looking results, until you look at things a bit. What I mean here is that if you enter '3' as the string to search for, you will be returned any trails that have three in them, including items like '30' or '5303'. Basically, this is a sub string search, if you understand what that means.

After you have entered the string, set the output formatting options to your liking, see the above section for a more detailed description of them, and press the button labeled 'Search the Trails Database'. That is it, and in a few moments you should have your results. This takes about as long as a single field search.

Back to the Full Text Search of the Trails Database

Background Information on the Trails Database

This trails database is the result of an Eagle Scout project done by me, Ryan Kirkpatrick. The project began back in the spring of 1993, though nothing worth mentioning happened until the spring of 1994. The database was completed by early November of that year. It documented 166 hiking trails in the open space, state and nation parks, and US forest land that lie inside the County of Boulder. Included in the information for each trail was it's number if it had one, name, length, difficulty, whether hiking, biking, or horse use was allowed , special restrictions, surface type, location, location of it's trailhead, a brief description, general location in Boulder County, USGS quads it appeared on, type of terrain, elevation gain, handicap accessibility, jurisdiction, and finally any seasonal closures. So as you can see, it was quite a bit of an undertaking to get it done. The database was done in Excel 5.0 for Microsoft Windows, and took 115 man hours to complete. It was then distributed in electronic form to the six different wilderness agency in Boulder County. And that was the last that was heard of it for about eight months.

None of the six agencies that I had given the database to have done anything with it, as of the summer of 1995, that I could tell, and it's real purpose was not to sit on someone's desk, but to be available to the people of Boulder County, and if possible to any one wishing to visit Boulder County and do some hiking. In order to achieve this goal, I got in contact with the people who run the Boulder Community Network, which you probably saw on your way to this page. BCN appeared to me to be the best place to put this database so that it could be reached by a lot of people. Now the only problem left was getting it on-line in some pleasant, easy to use, manner.

Well, as you can now see, that problem was solved with this set of web pages. Setting up these pages I learned a whole lot about the Web and the Internet in general, and I would suggest to anyone interested in learning more about the Web and Internet to try and set up a set of web pages such as these. All you need is some determination, courage, a database to work with, a computer with a Internet connection (I used a 386 loaded with Linux and a 14.4kbs link to the net, so does not have to be anything major). And one other thing, a wide open summer! I had planed to get a job this summer, but it never worked out, and so I end up doing this web page and a few other ones.

That is about all the background I can think of for this section, and I probably have rambled on long enough already. Though I do plan to return to this database in a few months (read about six months to a year) and upgrade it's scripts for searching. They are all presently written in perl, which is OK, but a little slow for my liking. I plan to learn C this next year and come back and rewrite this.

Lastly, since I do not have a home page on the web (maybe soon), here is a little bit about who I am. I graduated from Fairview High School here in Boulder in early June 1995, and I plan to go to LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas this fall, to study, if you have not already guessed, Computer Science and Engineering! So, as you can see I am quite into computers and like to do just about anything with them, from computer animation to programming, to networking. Well, that's about all about me. Oh, and one more thing. I did indeed get my Eagle Scout back in December. I never said anywhere that this Web Page was part of the project!

And very lastly, if you have any suggestions or comments on this Trails Database, please email them to me at the below address. Thanks!

Update 2002/08/07: Can't believe that a little over seven years have slipped past since I put this database on the web. Somewhere along the line I got caught up with first college, and then real life, and never found my way back to this database. A lot has happened during that time, including the fact that I now not only have my own home page, but also my own web server! Since BCN asked me to update the contact information and so forth on this page recently, I thought I might as well move it to my own server. That is the only real update so far, but with the next year or so (honest, I promise this time :), I plan to overhaul this site, putting a true database backend on it and possibly even updating the database's data. Of course, updating the database itself will be a pretty big task, so if there is any one there who would like to help, please drop me an email. Oh, and the comment about wanting to replace the perl behind this site with C, what a deluded young man I was... Python is the only true way. :)

Back to Searching the Trails Database
Ryan Kirkpatrick,

Last Revised 2002/08/07