Author Archives: halfmile

Powerhouse Fire Unofficial Detour (Mile 478)

Powerhouse Fire Unofficial Detour

Powerhouse Fire Unofficial Detour

Today we are publishing an unofficial alternate route around the Powerhouse Fire near Lake Hughes, CA. Maps can be downloaded here.

The 2013 Powerhouse Fire extensively damaged the Pacific Crest Trail and it remains closed for the 2015 hiking season from San Francisquito Canyon Road (mile 478.2) to approximately PCT mile 492.

This 12.9 mile detour bypasses 15.2 miles of the PCT. This detour departs the PCT on San Francisquito Canyon Road, then follows Elizabeth Lake Rd, and rejoins the PCT via Shake Canyon.

Related Links:
Pacific Crest Trail Association Powerhouse Fire Closure Page

Angles National Forest Closures Page

Mountain Fire Unofficial Alternate (Mile 162)

Mountain Fire alternate map

Mountain Fire alternate map

Today we are publishing an unofficial alternate route around the Mountain Fire near Idyllwild. Maps can be downloaded here.

The 2013 Mountain Fire extensively damaged Pacific Crest Trail and it remains closed for the 2015 hiking season from the Cedar Springs Trail (mile 162.6) north to Tahquitz Creek (mile 177.2).

Unpaved May Valley Road has opened for the 2015 PCT hiking season and this makes alternate routes around the Mountain Fire closure considerably easier for hikers.

This alternate route is similar to suggestions from the Pacific Crest Trail Association, but is slightly shorter, uses fewer paved roads, and mostly avoids Highway 74. The alternate map also includes directions to and from Idyllwild, where many hikers will be stopping to resupply.

Related Links:
PCTA Mountain Fire Closure Page
San Bernardino National Forest Mountain Fire closure order
Wikipedia Mountain Fire Page
Hikin’ Jim’s trip report about the last eight miles of this alternate


Halfmile’s PCT App is on 10,631 Smartphones

An Android phone running Halfmile's PCT app.

An Android phone running Halfmile’s PCT app.

We know a lot of hikers are using our Pacific Crest Trail app but the numbers are even surprising us.

Halfmile’s PCT app is starting it’s fourth hiking season installed on more than 10,631 smartphones and we expect the numbers of hikers using the app to grow over the next few months.

About two weeks ago Halfmile’s PCT app was updated for the 2015 hiking season and this gives us an opportunity to see how many times the app was recently updated and count how many smartphones it is currently installed on. Most smartphones update apps automatically when they have an internet connection.

Halfmile’s PCT app is available free for both Apple iPhone and Google Android phones. Apple and Google report statistics somewhat differently, but here is what we know as of March 31st:

  • The iPhone version of the app was updated 5,620 times in the past two weeks.
  • The Android version of the app is reported by Google to currently have 5,011 active installs.

Google provides more information than Apple about things such as the model of phone, Android OS version, and cell phone company used. We found the cell phone company information especially interesting. Here are the cell phone companies of our 5,011 Android phone users:

Verizon 40%
AT&T 16%
T-Mobile 10%
Sprint 8%
US Cellular 1%
Virgin Mobile 1%
Aio 1%
TELUS Mobility 1%
Other 22%

A minor revision to the Halfmile app is being released to address stability issues and correct a few of the waypoint descriptions. The Android update is available now, the iPhone update should be approved by Apple in about a week. We encourage hikers to always update to the latest version of the app.

Alternatives to the PCTHYOH app

We noticed recently that Ruffwork’s popular PCTHYOH app is no longer available from the Apple iTunes app store. The app was widely used by Pacific Crest Trail hikers to store Halfmile maps for offline viewing when cellular or wi-fi internet connections are not available.

Sadly, Ruffwork passed away last year on April 17, 2014. We can only speculate, but possibly Ruffwork’s Apple Developer Membership has expired and this would caused the PCTHYOH app to no longer be available on the iTunes store. The PCTHYOH app should continue to function for hikers who have it installed on iPhones and it appears to still be available on the Android Google Play Store.

Hikers looking for another way to view Halfmile maps on smartphones can use any .pdf reader app, such as Adobe Reader. Here are step by step instructions:

Acrobat Reader in Apple iTunes store

Adobe Reader in Apple iTunes app store.

1) Start the App Store app on your iPhone and search for Adobe Reader. Install the Adobe Reader app.

Finding a Halfmile map using the Safari app.

Finding a Halfmile map using the Safari app.

2) Launch the Safari app on your iphone and navigate to The .pdf map files on this web page are optimized for viewing on smartphones and are not compressed .zip files that would require a special app to uncompress them.

3) Select a link to a map section and the map will load into Safari. You can view Halfmile maps in Safari, but only when you have a cellular or wi-fi internet connection.

Using Safari to Open a Halfmile .pdf file in another iphone app.

Using Safari to view a Halfmile .pdf file in another iphone app. Note the “Open in…” option that appears after tapping the map.

4) Tap the map in Safari app and note the “Open in…” option.

Apps available to open .pdf files will vary depending on what apps are installed on your iphone.

Apps available to open .pdf files will vary depending on what apps are installed on your iphone.

5) When you select “Open in…” you will find the option to open the Halfmile .pdf map with any iPhone apps that support .pdf files. Select “Open in Adobe Reader.”

Viewing a Halfmile Map in Acrobat Reader.

Viewing a Halfmile Map in Adobe Reader.

6) The Halfmile .pdf map will be opened in Adobe Reader and stored for offline viewing.

7) Repeat the steps for each map section you want to download to your smartphone.

A library of Halfmile Maps available for offline viewing from the Acrobat Reader Documents menu.

A library of Halfmile Maps available for offline viewing from the Adobe Reader Documents menu.

8) You can see all the stored .pdf files in the Adobe Reader Documents menu option.

It’s best to load maps in Adobe Reader when you have a wi-fi internet connection or a strong LTE cellular signal.

Adobe Reader is a very useful app for hikers that will store and view any .pdf file such as Halfmile Maps, the PCT Water Report (use the links to .pdf format not .html format), bus schedules, instructions manuals, and many other documents.

Halfmile Smartphone Apps Updated for 2015

The Halfmile PCT app on an iPhone.

The Halfmile PCT app on an iPhone.

Halfmile Pacific Crest Trail iPhone and Android smartphone apps have been updated for the 2015 hiking season.

Halfmile PCT apps are a companion to Halfmile’s 2015 printed map set to aid navigation. The app determines your location and, if on the PCT or one of its side trails, it calculates trail distances to over 3,000 PCT landmarks and displays any relevant trail notes. The app also calculates elevation gains and losses to landmarks and compass bearings and distance to landmarks. The IOS app includes a live trail diagram to aid navigation.

Halfmile apps do not contain maps of the Pacific Crest Trail — think of them as a very accurate, location aware, digital PCT Data Book.

Changes for 2015 include:

  • The app data is now synchronized with the official 2015 Halfmile maps and GPS data.
  • Over 1000 new PCT landmarks have been added for locations such as water sources, trail junctions, campsites, road crossings, etc.
  • Over 90% of the PCT track data has been replaced using much higher accuracy sources than before.
  • Compatibility with new smartphones and new operating systems.
  • Various small fixes and enhancements have been made to improve readability.
  • The Halfmile PCT app is available free at the iTunes Apps Store or Google Play.

    Since Halfmile’s PCT mileage estimates have changed for 2015, be sure not to mix and match 2014 and 2015 versions of PCT maps, apps, or GPS data.

    Check Out the New Elevation Profiles!


    Halfmile’s Pacific Crest Trail maps have been updated for 2015 and they include cool new elevation profiles created by programmer Tom “66” Reid.

    Colors used on FAA charts.

    Colors used on FAA charts.

    The new elevation profiles feature color coding in the style of FAA Aeronautical Charts, improved formatting to show more waypoints, and mileage that matches the 2015 Halfmile PCT mileage estimates.

    Information on the elevation profiles includes:

    • Page numbers to identify which PCT map pages are covered.
    • Black dots for every half mile of trail.
    • Red dots marking individual waypoints along the PCT.
    • PCT mileage from the Mexican border every two miles.
    • Elevation gain/loss is estimated (see the red circle above) for every two mile section of PCT.

    The new elevation profiles are included with each section of PCT maps, or just the new elevation profiles for California can be downloaded here, or Oregon/Washington profiles can be downloaded here. Since PCT mileage estimates have changed for 2015, be sure not to mix and match 2014 and 2015 version of PCT maps, apps, or GPS data.

    Waypoint Abbreviations



    We have been asked by several hikers about the abbreviations used for waypoint names on Halfmile Project PCT maps, apps, GPS data, and Google Earth files. Here is a list of the most common abbreviations:

    BB — Bear box or bear locker (mostly in the Sierra)
    CG — Campground
    CS — Campsite
    GT — Gate
    JMT — John Muir Trail
    Hwy — Highway crossing
    NF — National Forest boundary
    TH — Trailhead
    TR — Trail
    PL — Powerline
    PO — Post Office
    RD — Road crossings
    RR — Railroad track
    Ski — Ski lift
    Wild — Wilderness boundary
    WA — Possible water source (not on, mostly north of mile 700)
    WR — Possible water source listed in the PCT Water Report at
    WACS — Possible water source and campsite
    WRCS — Possible water source from the Water Report and campsite

    Curious which waypoint types are most commonly used? Here is a list from the new 2015 Halfmile Project data:

    3161 — total number of 2015 waypoints
    972 — WA waypoints
    745 — CS waypoints
    498 — TR waypoints
    466 — RD waypoints
    152 — WR waypoints
    73 — GT waypoints
    61 — Hwy waypoints
    54 — PL waypoints
    33 — Wild waypoints
    21 — CG waypoints
    16 — BB waypoints
    12 — TH waypoints
    8 — PO waypoints
    6 — NF waypoints
    6 — Ski waypoints

    About the 2015 Halfmile Updates

    Updating maps for 2015

    Updating maps for 2015

    The 2015 Pacific Crest Trail hiking season is rapidly approaching and understandably we have been getting questions about what’s changing in the 2015 edition of Halfmile’s PCT maps and when new maps, apps and GPS data will be ready.

    2014 was a massive data collection effort for the Halfmile Project team. Halfmile and Dirt Stew thru-hiked the PCT (Halfmile northbound, Dirt Stew southbound) carrying very accurate custom GPS devices designed for mapping long hiking trails. 8,296,179 new data sample points and 5,065 new waypoints were collected.

    GPS reception can be challenging along some parts of the PCT due to tree cover or terrain such as mountains or canyons that sometimes block GPS signals. This is especially true in Oregon and Washington. The custom GPS logging hardware performed amazingly well because of the outstanding performance of the ublox NEO-7P GPS module, external mast mounted antennas, and the merging of multiple GPS data sets using software developed by David Lippke. We are confidant this is the most accurate data ever collected of the PCT.

    Overall the new 2015 data has an average horizontal accuracy of 1.9 meters. Here is the horizontal accuracy by PCT section:

    CA Sec A: 0.67 meters
    CA Sec B: 1.26 meters
    CA Sec C: 1.11 meters
    CA Sec D: 1.19 meters
    CA Sec E: 0.81 meters
    CA Sec F: 0.98 meters
    CA Sec G: 1.18 meters
    CA Sec H: 1.44 meters
    CA Sec I: 1.62 meters
    CA Sec J: 1.51 meters
    CA Sec K: 1.61 meters
    CA Sec L: 0.49 meters
    CA Sec M: 0.57 meters
    CA Sec N: 0.46 meters
    CA Sec O: 0.68 meters
    CA Sec P: 1.92 meters
    CA Sec Q: 2.37 meters
    CA Sec R: 2.19 meters
    OR Sec B: 2.66 meters
    OR Sec C: 2.49 meters
    OR Sec D: 2.57 meters
    OR Sec E: 2.32 meters
    OR Sec F: 2.45 meters
    OR Sec G: 3.78 meters
    WA Sec H: 3.45 meters
    WA Sec I: 2.94 meters
    WA Sec J: 1.75 meters
    WA Sec K: 3.34 meters
    WA Sec L: 2.42 meters
    Continue reading