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Learning Activity:

Plan a Trail

NPS geologic map poster clip

Grade Level: 4-7
Source: National Park Service

Trails in national parks lead visitors to intriguing features and rewarding vistas. Geologic maps are used to plan the routes.

Below is a geologic map of the fictional Mount Stupendous National Park. The map uses colors and symbols to portray the location of rocks and other geologic deposits. Active fossil excavations are indicated with a bone symbol. Rare plant habitats are marked with a leaf. Areas where landslides have occurred are colored yellow (map unit Qls) and rubble from slumps (slow landslides) are colored green (map unit Qr). In this activity you will draw a trail to maximize visitor fun, minimize impacts to fossils and rare plants, and bypass geologic hazards.


Mount Stupendous National Park Geologic Map

Download a printable version of the map here.


  1. Learn to read a topographic map using the National Park Service's WebRangers Reading a Map activity.
  2. Print out the map of Mount Stupendous National Park.
  3. Use a pencil and the checklist provided below to help you draw a fun, minimum impact, and safe trail for park visitors from the visitor center to the summit of Mount Stupendous.




Protect sensitive areas - Active fossil excavations and rare plants are exciting for visitors to see. To protect these sites while still allowing visitors to enjoy them direct your trail nearby without crossing directly through these areas.

Avoid hazardous areas - Route the trail around areas with known landslide or rockfall occurences.

Length and steepness - A fun trail for an average park visitor is neither too steep nor too long. Use your map reading skills to plan a route which is not too steep or too long. Hint - use switchbacks to gradually take the trail up a steep cliff, just be careful not too make your trail too long!

Download a printable version of the checklist here.

Download a PDF of the Geologic Maps of National Parks poster here.

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Last Updated: January 04, 2017