Map Feature: Matchlines

Nov 3, 2011

If you've ever used an Adventure Cycling map to navigate our network, you may remember seeing those brilliant pink lines that cross the route on the map panels. Those lines indicate where the narrative directions begin and end. In other words, before you can travel from map panel to map panel, you must first travel from matchline to matchline.

Our use of matchlines began with the very first editions of the TransAmerica Trail maps as indicators of where one map panel ended and the next began, without regard for physical landmarks. Over time we have refined their placement to be more useful (we hope!).

Today, as we lay out the map panels on every map section, we endeavor to place matchlines on features that exist on the ground. Roads signed and unsigned, paved or gravel can work -- particularly at intersections; signed county and state lines work well, too, as do water crossings signed and unsigned and summits of mountain passes. The more information we have about a spot, the more likely it is to be considered a viable option for use as a matchline.

However, there are places on our routes -- like on stretches of the Western Express Route -- where this simply isn't possible, as no prominent landmarks exist. In those situations we do our best to get an accurate distance from a prior physical location to place the matchline symbol.

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Image 1: Preferred placement of a matchline on Section 1 of the Underground Railroad Detroit Alternate.

Image 2: A matchline in the middle of nowhere on Sectin 2 of the Western Express Route.

Map images courtesy of Routes & Mapping.

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GEOPOINTS BULLETIN is written by Jennifer 'Jenn' Milyko, an Adventure Cycling cartographer, and appears weekly, highlighting curious facts, figures, and persons from the Adventure Cycling Route Network with tips and hints for personal route creation thrown in for good measure. She also wants to remind you that map corrections and comments are always welcome via the online Map Correction Form.

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