Maps has created hundreds of specially made topographic maps for local: Hikes                •Mountain Bike Rides         Flatwater Paddle Trips       Snowshoe Trips
Rock Climbs       •Road Rides                     Whitewater Trips              •Cross-Country Ski Trips
Mtn Climbs         •Trail Runs                       •Family Outings                •Backcountry SkiTours      

Find / Print Any Topographic Map with Gmap4

The online maps from Gmap4 (see the box below) lets you view and print any topographic map in the United States or Canada. You can also see the same area in different scales and in a variety of ways (e.g., as a Google-styled terrain map, shaded topographic map, aerial photograph). When you've found the map in the scale you want, print it for free. Use the frame below to view this incredible map service or see a  full-screen version Gmap4 here (better if you'll be printing a map). Read the directions below for tips on using Gmap4.

Find a Place. 1) Grab the map by left clicking/holding, and dragging the mouse in the opposite direction of the section of map you want to view, or 2) Click 'Menu', 'Search', enter the place you want searched for (e.g., 'Leavenworth, WA' or 'Mount Stuart, WA' or 'Lake Colchuck'), press the 'Search' button.

Change the Magnification. Once you've found your place, get the scale you want through the zoom slider on the left side of the map. Move the slider toward '+' to see the area in greater detail, toward '-' to zoom out.

Change the Map Type.
'Our box above starts as a Google-styled 'terrain' map because we think it's clearer for skimming around the region. Once you find your area of interest, however, see that same area as a shaded topographic map by clicking the 'Terrain' button (upper right) and choosing 'MyTopo.' Or hit the 'Terrain' button and choose 'Satellite' to see aerial photos of the same area. The topo maps and aerial photos can be zoomed in or out with the scale bar.

Print a Map. The box above prints a 6" X 6" section of map (fine for many day hikes). Print by using the menu buttons of your web browser. In Firefox, for example, click 'File' then 'Print Preview'. Make any printer adjustments you want (e.g., put the 'Scale' at 100%). Click 'Print' and, in the new dialog box, define what page you want printed (page 2 usually has the map) and push 'OK'. Internet Explorer works similarly by using the arrow beside the printer icon to access 'Print Preview'. To view a full-screen map which will cover a full page of paper when printed
start here. Do the same things mentioned above to find the section of map you want printed. Now use your browser menu (e.g., 'File', 'Print Preview') to see what will print. Orient your printer to 'Landscape mode' and experiment with the 'Scale' button which will allow you to get more map on the page if you use a scale of 70% vs 100%. When things look good, push the 'Print' button, define the page to print, and click 'OK.'

More. There are more tips about using this map set listed at the bottom of this page.

 Maps Calculating Slope Angle

Below is a particularly interesting topographic map application showing the slope angle of the terrain you're viewing. Backcountry skiers, snowshoers, and mountaineers will find this particularly useful. Use these maps along with weather and avalanche forecasts to help determine the avalanche hazard of slopes you plan tos ascend, descend, or traverse. Slopes that are the normal map green are below 20 degrees in angle. Kelly green slopes are 20 to 27 degrees steep, yellow slopes are 28 to 34 degrees steep, red slopes (the most dangerous ones for avalanches) are between 35 to 45 degrees steep, and purple/blue slopes are 46 degrees or steeper. Click here for a full-screen view of this application. The easiest way to navigate the full-screen maps is to click the binoculars (upper right) and then enter a place (e.g., 'Blewett Pass, WA' or' Mission Ridge, WA').

‚ÄčIt takes some studying to learn how to use CalTopo's tool set with the different map sets and satellite photos CalTopo gives you access to (not completely intuitive). You can establish waypoints on the maps, draw routes, create bearings, apply labels, and load waypoints into your GPS or smartphone. Read how-to use the different tools. Or see these videos 1) overview of the different features 2) using layers in this system and 3) creating markers and shapes.

Canadian Maps

Another extremely useful aspect of CalTopo is its coverage of Canada. You can get seamless coverage of Canada with the older 1:50,000 scale maps (40-meter contours) that CalTopo refers to as their 'CanMatrix' maps. And you can get all of British Columbia's 1:20,000 scale maps (20-meter contours) produced by the BC Ministry of Forest, Lands, & Natural Resources that CalTopo refers to as the 'NR Canada' maps. Here's what the Apex Mountain Ski Resort near Penticton, BC looks like in the older 50:000 scale maps looks like as well as in the 20:000 scale maps.

Avalanche Forecast Map

This on-line map overlays the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center's (NWAC) avalanche forecast (using the  avalanche rose) over the Washington Cascades. It’s a useful tool for seeing the general hazard  in different parts of the state, on slopes of different aspects, and/or on slopes of different elevation. This uses the same color code as the avalanche rose. Spend a few minutes learning how to navigate the map and how-to zoom in on a region. This is graphically useful for getting a quick overview of whether there’s a hazard difference between skiing around Stevens Pass, Icicle Ridge, Blewett Pass and Mission Ridge. Note: This overlay does not calculate slope steepness it just gives a broad brush geographic impression. Once you get an idea of where you might want to ski, the slope-angle overlay (shown above) will help keep you on slopes of appropriate steepness.

 Historical Washington 30-Minute Maps (1:125,000 scale)

This link leads to Washington State's Digital Map Collection, which has most of the topographic maps of Washington State produced by the USGS around 1897. The United States Geological Survey was created by an act of Congress in 1879 and the USGS set out to create a set of topographic maps of the entire United States beginning in 1882. One sheet of this set, is referred to as a quadrangle. The standard quadrangle consists of 30-minutes of latitude and 30-minutes of longitude at a scale of 1:125,000 (these are four times more general than the 7.5-minute maps most outdoor enthusiasts use today). It's fun to study these maps and note the amazing changes that have occurred in a century. On the Mount Stuart and Chiwaukum quadrangles, for example, look at how the Enchantment Lakes Basin is completely covered by yesteryear's Snow Creek Glacier and how Central Washington is nearly devoid of roads and trails. Fascinating.

The Caltopo map system has two layers of historical maps, one from 1885 yo 1915, another from 1915 to 1945. Large portions of the state are not covered by these maps, but where there were sizable population centers or resources of interest to humans (gold) there are some fascinating maps. Click here to start viewing these maps.


More About Gmap4

Gmap4 is online software that runs in your browser. There is nothing to buy, download, or install.  Gmap4 runs on most browsers in your phone, iPad, iPod, notebook, laptop, and desktop. Because Gmap4 is not a ‘native’ app but a 'browser' app, you do need to be connected to the Internet.

As of 2012 Gmap4 is an enhanced Google Map viewer that can display high-resolution topographic maps. These maps are based on new scans that have much better quality.  As of June 2012 the hi-res maps cover all of the US, except Alaska, and are all available with a seamless interface. Just keep scrolling and the maps keep coming as you move from sea to shining sea. Incidentally, you can vary the hill shading of hi-res maps at: 'Menu', 'Hill shading'.

What can you do with Gmap4 besides admire how cool the maps look?  Lots.

Use the trip planning feature ('Menu', 'Draw and save'). Click the map to make a GPX file that will load into many (not all) handheld GPS units. Then, when you get back from your trip, use Gmap4 to display your GPS track.

Gmap4 has the ability to display data files that are hosted online almost anywhere.  If you want to put your own data files online but lack a website to host those files, use Google Sites, which is free and easy. The Gmap4 ‘Help’ file has step-by-step instructions for uploading your files to Google Sites.  Gmap4 can display GPX, KML, KMZ, TPO and Google MyPlaces files. It can also display a delimited text file format. Note: You cannot (yet) display files straight from your harddrive -- first put your files online.

To share a map with others: Click 'Menu', 'Link to this map', then a URL will appear in the message window. Copy that URL and use it in a forum post, email, blog, website, etc.  Those who click the URL link will see the same map on their screen.

You can also:

  • Automatically center the map on your current location
  • Display a UTM grid
  • Get the current magnetic declination
  • Search
  • Get directions (the route is draggable)
  • Print

There is no cost for using Gmap4 for non-commercial use, but donations are welcome and taken on the home page 'Menu','Donate'.

The Gmap4 homepage has a FAQ section, detailed 'Help' file, and links to examples that will help you learn more.