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Okay, I have given up on Nat'l Geographic's TOPO! software

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Postby Bob Sihler » Fri May 14, 2010 12:23 am

Castlereagh wrote:What are people's thoughts on those big red DeLorme book atlases? Not quite a topo map for trails, but are they good for backroads?


Mine for MT, UT, and WY have been good.
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Postby Arthur Digbee » Fri May 14, 2010 12:57 am

+1 on the above for National Geo software. I get much better results with mytopo.com, but you're stuck with decades of errors (i.e., last Isle Royale maps were early 1960s).

The Natl Geo Trails Illustrated maps do correct and clean up, and the only error there I've found so far is the Clear Lake trail in Yellowstone. But the scale varies widely -- they size the map to the eight-fold paper, which misconceives the purpose of a map.
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Postby Bill Reed » Fri May 14, 2010 2:02 am

I'm also disappointed with the Topo software. There's 4 levels of zoom and the difference between them is dramatic. One level shows elevation in meters while the other 3 show feet. Contour intervals are also inconsistent. My biggest gripe is the reliability and age of the maps. Roads that were moved in the late 70's still show their old location. Same story for trails that have moved/been re-routed in the last 30 years. For something that costs $100 a pop, that's lame.
Sorry, don't have a better suggestion, though I have seen some stuff on here that looks better. Just wanted to vent about the Topo myth.:cry::cry::cry:

As far as the Delorme Atlas, I've only used the Alaska edition and it worked fine for roads.
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Postby CheesySciFi » Fri May 14, 2010 2:15 am

I have no need to use their software, as I can just walk downstairs to the USGS library and get any topo map in the good old US of A that I want. The maps that they sell seem to be bigger picture maps. I have found that their maps of the Massanutten Mountains and Shenandoah National Park to be quite useful; they have most of the officially maintained trails.

If you want old, officially abandoned trails, you need to get a 1:24,000 topo map. Some of the abandoned trails in the Massanuttens and SNP have simply ceased to exist. There is no easily discernible trace that humans have ever been there. Others are in almost as good shape as the officially maintained trails for various reasons, such as being through mostly open woods and having unofficial maintenance.

As for the red DeLorme books, they seem to be pretty useful for VA, WV, and KY. Although not of topo quality, they have the back roads down pretty good with a few exceptions. They also helped me to find mountains that don't have SP pages yet!
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Postby Ze » Fri May 14, 2010 3:16 am

if you are willing to go through a few steps, then you may prefer using the topo overlay in google earth. More flexibility (zoom, satellite, usgs current + historic maps), but you have to add a step to get the elevation profile
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Postby MoapaPk » Fri May 14, 2010 4:48 am

If you don't mind paying on a state-by-state basis, memory map or maptech generally have high-quality scans. All mapping software that I've tried have some bizarre flaws. My favorite is ExpertGPS -- but it relies on the terraserver maps, which are badly misregistered in some places (e.g. the Sierra by Whitney Portal, 24K series). Memory Map also has extremely annoying steps for printing maps.
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Postby calebEOC » Fri May 14, 2010 6:23 am

Benchmark brand Atlas' are where its at.
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Postby QITNL » Fri May 14, 2010 9:22 am

Yeah, TOPO sucks but sometimes you just gotta cludge along with what you got.

redneck - original post: under View, turn Shaded Relief off. That cleans up some of the clutter. Zoom helps, as mentioned. In general, I don't usually trust too much of the road/trail data, on any map, take it with a grain of salt, at least. Paths change all the time so view them as estimates.

Bill says "There's 4 levels of zoom and the difference between them is dramatic"
Buz had the answer: "What they are selling is just USGS topo maps in a digital format"
These are essentially scans of paper maps. Pre-google.

Buz says: "they do have a place on their web site where users can upload data for trails"

They used to have a service called mapXchange but they turned it off. Some of it is built into TOPO Explorer now? I don't know, I don't have that. It would be nice to get access to some of these files again and see if folks are adding to it. I saved a bunch of stuff for CA and some of it was quite useful. They show plenty divergence from the user-tracked maps and the old tracks that were printed.

Appreciate if anyone has any more info.

I like downloading my GPS nonsense after trips into TOPO just for goofy reference. I also like this paper: http://www.amazon.com/iGage-Weatherproo ... B00006687T

Too bad TOPO it doesn't work a little better. Natl Geo don't care, they've been slipping since no one reads them no more for porno. The Garmin software is another sack of potatoes.
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Postby MoapaPk » Fri May 14, 2010 12:53 pm

I need software that allows me to draw potential routes on maps, than allows me to upload the tracks directly to my GPS in track format. Nat'l Geo TOPO will do that, but painfully. But Google Earth (free version) will also allow you to draw the tracks, and you can upload them by other means.
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Postby simonov » Fri May 14, 2010 2:49 pm

MoapaPk wrote:If you don't mind paying on a state-by-state basis, memory map or maptech generally have high-quality scans. All mapping software that I've tried have some bizarre flaws. My favorite is ExpertGPS -- but it relies on the terraserver maps, which are badly misregistered in some places (e.g. the Sierra by Whitney Portal, 24K series). Memory Map also has extremely annoying steps for printing maps.


Thanks for the Maptech suggestion. I just ordered their Terrain Navigator package for California. The scans I saw sure looked cleaner than the TOPO! software.

Not only have I always been a map fiend, I lead hikes for a local club and prepare maps for each hike. These custom maps, color printed at Kinkos, are very popular with club members. I hope to be able to prepare a high quality map for every hike I lead.
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Postby Buz Groshong » Fri May 14, 2010 3:26 pm

MoapaPk wrote:I need software that allows me to draw potential routes on maps, than allows me to upload the tracks directly to my GPS in track format. Nat'l Geo TOPO will do that, but painfully. But Google Earth (free version) will also allow you to draw the tracks, and you can upload them by other means.


If you can't draw routes and upload and download GPS data, I'm not paying good money for it. That simple. National Geographic TOPO! will allow me to do that easily. Only tried to upload data to Google Earth once; it was slow and it bogged down 1/4 of the way through - maybe I'll try it again. The National Geographic TOPO! maps for National Parks have trails added, but are often at a very poor scale (unlike their USGS maps).
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Postby simonov » Fri May 14, 2010 3:39 pm

Buz Groshong wrote:If you can't draw routes and upload and download GPS data, I'm not paying good money for it. That simple. National Geographic TOPO! will allow me to do that easily. Only tried to upload data to Google Earth once; it was slow and it bogged down 1/4 of the way through - maybe I'll try it again.


Using GPS Visualizer, it's easy to use GPS data with Google Earth. The problem with Google Earth, however, when trying to trace trails is that you often can't see them.

What I do is trace a trail or a route on my mapping software, then convert the GPS track to a Google Earth KML or KMZ file so hike participants can preview the route.
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Postby nhluhr » Fri May 14, 2010 3:54 pm

I don't know why anybody would use TOPO! unless they REALLY need the ability to center the area of interest on a print-out. But then you're limited by crappy print quality, smaller sheet size, badly aliased graphics, and you're still paying for each map you download!

USGS quads are the way to go. If you can't find what you want locally, order it directly from the USGS! http://store.usgs.gov You can even preview the full resolution pdf version of it first.
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Postby Buz Groshong » Fri May 14, 2010 4:40 pm

nhluhr wrote:I don't know why anybody would use TOPO! unless they REALLY need the ability to center the area of interest on a print-out. But then you're limited by crappy print quality, smaller sheet size, badly aliased graphics, and you're still paying for each map you download!

USGS quads are the way to go. If you can't find what you want locally, order it directly from the USGS! http://store.usgs.gov You can even preview the full resolution pdf version of it first.


Reasons:

1. I can print on letter-size paper at home very cheaply (once I've bought the CD) - perfect for a typical day hike. I can also draw the route on it before I print it out and can annotate it however I please.

2. I can run a profile of the hike route.

3. I can upload data from my GPS and save it with the map file (or save it separately).

4. I can download waypoints from the map to my GPS.

5. The quality is only crappy when the corresponding USGS quad is crappy.
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Postby Ze » Fri May 14, 2010 5:19 pm

redneck wrote:
Using GPS Visualizer, it's easy to use GPS data with Google Earth. The problem with Google Earth, however, when trying to trace trails is that you often can't see them.

What I do is trace a trail or a route on my mapping software, then convert the GPS track to a Google Earth KML or KMZ file so hike participants can preview the route.


The topo overlay in google earth takes away the pain of not seeing the trail sometimes.
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