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Maps Question

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Maps Question

Postby ltkenbo » Mon Feb 02, 2009 1:11 am

I am a new user hear and am interested on hiking in the Sierra National Forest this next summer with my dad, probably in the John Muir Wilderness. I was wondering where one would get maps for such an adventure and maps just to start planning a general route. Do most people just use USGS topo maps? I've seen those but they don't usually have trail routes and stuff. Could some one fill me in on this.

Which brings me to another question, when one travels through the wilderness (I am speaking of any of the ones in the Sierra) would he or she use trails, or just traverse through following the map of the area?
Thanks.



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Re: Maps Question

Postby hikerduane » Mon Feb 02, 2009 3:53 am

If you can find a source for topo maps, then you need to know the name of the specific map or maps you are needing. I haven't had much luck locating a good source for specific maps, I do use readily available maps for just about any wilderness. I have a topo map for the Sierra National Forest, available from bp stores, REI, online etc. Many people use National Geographic software to print out maps.

Depending on terrain, you may be able to do a xc route. If I am unfamiliar with an area, I may plan on using a trail, then go from there. I did a trip last summer where much of the first four days was off trail, linked with trails in places. Ask folks here and read trip reports. Check thru old reports to see if anyone has covered an area you want to visit. Some give you good specifics, some leave it up to you to figure parts out, that is part of the adventure.
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Re: Maps Question

Postby ERIC » Mon Feb 02, 2009 7:21 am

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Re: Maps Question

Postby gdurkee » Mon Feb 02, 2009 5:29 pm

The PCT map is pretty good. Not sure how many sections you'd need for the JMT, but I think only 2??

http://www.pcta.org/general/news/pct_map_award.asp

Seems like someone should (has??) published the quads outline of the Sierra which would show the map name. Eric, do you know of something like that? Seems like we could put one together with Arc. Would that be a useful thing? A useful base/background map & scale would be a problem to make it useful on the web... .

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Re: Maps Question

Postby ERIC » Tue Feb 03, 2009 10:59 am

Like hikerduane said, search around this site and the web for trip reports - or, have a look at some books out there to find where you want to go. Then look for a map. Sounds like what you're looking for is something like this, but it's hard to know what coverage area you're going to need without knowing where exactly you're going to be. A good book that does a nice job of covering the Sierra National Forest is The High Sierra - Peaks, Passes, and Trails. And there's a JMT topo map pack that's also available.
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Re: Maps Question

Postby giantbrookie » Tue Feb 03, 2009 11:48 am

There are a variety of topographic map coverages for the High Sierra. The "official" primary source are 7.5' quadrangles published by the USGS. There are in fact index maps for all the USGS quads available online, either through the USGS or through various after market outlets. Personally I find the 7.5' (1: 24,000) maps too zoomed in and a bit too big; the topographic resolution of the old, out-of-print 15' quadrangles was just fine and the scale (1: 62, 500) more convenient for hiking. Various derivative map makers have recognized this and printed maps derived from the old 15' quads. First of all, the US Forest Service prints topo maps for all of its wilderness areas, including the epic map of the John Muir Wilderness and Seki. Unlike the USGS maps that may have somewhat outdated road and trails, the USFS maps are fully updated in terms of trails and roads, plus they commonly have some specific wilderness regulations (special camping set backs, no campfire areas, etc.) shown on them. The Wilderness Press has reprinted some of the choicest 15' USGS maps and included updated trails and roads on waterproof non tearing paper; and these fold nicely into a very small square. These are my first choice if my trips falls onto one of them. Tom Harrison maps has produced maps of most or all of the higher Sierra, at 1: 62,500 and on waterproof paper. These maps not only have modern trail and road systems, but commonly mileages on trails between key points. My gripe about his maps is the infernal shaded relief which makes the topo hard to see on parts of the map. I'll take the WP series over these if possible, but Harrison covers areas not on the WP maps, so I commonly have to use the Harrison maps. The USFS Seki-JMW map is awesome for off season day dreaming, but it is enormous and on regular paper which starts to tear after not too much use, so I don't take the big map to the mountains with me (I do make xeroxes and cover them with contact paper to make them waterproof on occasion). The Harrison, Wilderness Press, and USFS maps are available at REI and most hiking-oriented stores.

In addition to the published maps noted above there are various print-on-demand packages such as the Nat. Geographic package. While these offer the flexibility of a "custom" map, I find the higher quality paper and print quality (print on demand is only as good as whatever printer one uses) of published maps more useful to me.
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Re: Maps Question

Postby copeg » Tue Feb 03, 2009 12:33 pm

The USGS has an interactive map browser where you can search for an area online, then order and/or download (free) the 7.5' topo map (if you go to the usgs store (http://store.usgs.gov/), then click on Map Locator - I've found the map misbehaves in some browsers (namely Safari) so if it doesn't work try another browser).

Tom Harrison has some nice maps that I frequently use for trip planning to get a general sense of an area, but in some circumstances I find they lack detail that I'd like to have (mainly for off-trail or winter route finding).
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Re: Maps Question

Postby BSquared » Tue Feb 03, 2009 12:46 pm

...and if you're into computers, all of the California maps (1x2 degree, 30 minute, 7.5 minute) are available free as "DRGs" (Digital Raster Graphics). These can be used by a variety of programs and/or simply viewed on a computer screen or printed out. It's probably not economical to print them (as opposed to ordering paper copies), but with some fairly inexpensive (sometimes free) GPS-interface programs you can waste hours browsing electronic maps, picking off waypoints for future trips, recording triplogs from past trips, and so on. The California DRGs are available here: http://casil.ucdavis.edu/casil/imageryBaseMapsLandCover/baseMaps/drg/. Explore that website a bit to find what's there -- they've changed their interface recently and I haven't had time to figure it out, but just now I was able to find all the 7.5 minute maps by number ("o40122d8" for example). I'm sure there's an index at the site that lets you go back and forth between number and quadrangle name ("CHANCHELULLA PEAK"), but I couldn't find it right away—definitely used to be there.

Play with it—great way to waste time when you should be working.

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Re: Maps Question

Postby ERIC » Tue Feb 03, 2009 3:52 pm

BSquared wrote:I'm sure there's an index at the site that lets you go back and forth between number and quadrangle name ("CHANCHELULLA PEAK"), but I couldn't find it right away—definitely used to be there.


I believe this is what you're looking for: http://www.topowest.com/California/bare ... _name.html

And here it is as an Excel spreadsheet:
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california_quads.xls
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