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Discussion: 1:24 Topo Maps

in: Orienteering; General

Sep 15, 2018 1:28 AM # 
What is the best, hopefully free, resource that I can print out 1:24 too maps with the most current trails on the maps? Looking for try-state area. Caltopo's 1:24 topo maps have no trails.

Sep 15, 2018 2:24 AM # 
OpenTopoMap seems to pull trails from OpenStreetMap, which in turn seem to be pretty good thanks to crowdsourcing. The contours are... meh.
Sep 15, 2018 6:43 AM # 
What is the try-state (tri-state?) area.
Give me the name of a specific area/ park and with luck we might be able to pull together a topo map with the trails that are actually used (via Strava) in a couple of minutes, hours at most.
A 5,000 acre parcel of seaside state park and adjoining wilderness area in Southern California with 5 m contours and strava trails just took less than an afternoon to do, for example.
Sep 15, 2018 1:11 PM # 
Wikipedia notes 14 tri-state areas in the US, with another 50 or so places where three states meet that could be but they aren't interesting enough to be referred to as such (like where the Dakotas meet Montana). In the case of the one I suspect he's talking about, two of the three states don't actually touch.
Sep 15, 2018 3:45 PM # 
NY and NJ
Sep 15, 2018 4:31 PM # 
NY-NJ Trail Conference has topo maps which show trails. Not free, but the cost of the maps goes towards maintaining those trails and access to them.
Sep 15, 2018 4:37 PM # 
Here is one way to create your own topo map with all the trails
1 Get the area you want from Open Street Map and import it to the mapping program of your choice. I presume it would be Open Orienteering Mapper as that is free.
2) Find the Strava heatmap of the area, clip the image and save it as a jpeg.
3)Fit the strava image in to the maps background / template, line up common points as registry marks.
4) Start tracing in the trails to your map. The darker the trail in the strava image likely the more prominent it is. You will find some disagreement between the OSM trail and the strava version. Take the strava as correct. OSM is only as accurate as the last inputter's last mistake.
2 Put the topo sheet for the area in to the map as a template and presto you have your topo map with the trails.
1 Get OCAD 12 or OCAD 2018 and use new map wizard to start the map from Open Street Map. The wizard will walk you through the steps.
2) Find USGS Earth Explorer (up to Sept 30) and find the LiDAR detail for the area. Don't worry all three of your tri-states are covered. There are a few steps here but can be explained further if necessary.
3 Use DEM Import Wizard to import the contours
4 Repeat the strava step above and presto you have yourself a better than topo map / near Rogaine ready map.
Sep 15, 2018 5:50 PM # 
NJ / NY / CT (sw->ne)
Sep 15, 2018 10:05 PM # 
haywoodkb: works well in the tri-state area Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia (TAG)
Sep 15, 2018 11:07 PM # 
Norvin Green State Forest or
Ringwood Manor State Park or
Ramapo Mountain State Forest
Sep 15, 2018 11:16 PM # 
All three of these are on the Avenza map app. Great for hiking with your phone. A moving blue dot shows your exact position on the map.
Sep 16, 2018 1:30 AM # 
Its insane to think that someone who wants a 1:24 topo/trail map of a forest needs to process lidar, or have someone custom process lidar for them.
Sep 16, 2018 2:10 AM # 
Have you tried:



(or other ones you can find doing a Google search for free topo maps?)

Google maps (at least in terrain and satellite views) appear to have the Cannonball Trail and the Castle Point Trail in Ramapo Mtn Forest that you could somehow overlay on a topo if it doesn't have them. Or use the NJ/NY Trail Conference link (above) and support mapmakers!
Sep 16, 2018 9:48 AM # 
So here is a demonstration of what you can do if you are not satisfied with the accuracy of the trails showing up on your topo map. The areas are snips from Norvin Green State Forest in New Jersey. Then the final map which can be printed in any scale one desires.
Short of it: I'm becoming a big believer in using Strava heatmaps. They show the trails that the folks are actually using!
Sep 16, 2018 12:38 PM # 
Strava heatmaps were hit pretty hard with the nerf bat thanks to our SF. I wouldn't say they are worthless but the effort level has increased.

I have spent many hours over the last few days working with them. Slide doesn't work like it used to and the outputs aren't as good.
Sep 16, 2018 12:47 PM # 
What is your SF? and a nerf bat?
Sep 16, 2018 3:20 PM # 
Special Forces?
Sep 16, 2018 11:41 PM # 
A Nerf bat is a harmless or ineffective bat. In this case it is a programmer term for making something great almost useless.
Sep 17, 2018 12:16 AM # 
Worth checking TrailForks too if it’s a park with a mountain bike presence
Sep 17, 2018 1:00 AM # 
You can get all past USGS topo maps for free on their Historical Map collection. Follow the links through:

It's interesting to look at early maps (1800's) and see revisions over time. The maps became less of an art work and also lost detail with later revisions and as they were digitized. I find the most useful ones are the 1960-1980 vintages.
Sep 17, 2018 6:40 AM # 
Interesting comment kadley. Around here, there was a phase where our mapping agency began omitting tracks that the national parks agency didn't want to maintain. And perhaps they didn't want people to know about. I think that's a dereliction of duty, they should map what's there (to agreed levels of detail). So my older paper maps are a treasure trove of possibilities.
Sep 17, 2018 9:59 AM # 
Early on in my time in Western Australia circa 1982 in a Rogaine, we went across country for a couple of kms expecting to hit a large track shown on the map (from the local lands dept) only to come out of the forest to a paddock. Where was the track we thought how could we miss it? It turned out that the Lands Dept used to put Gazetted tracks on the map regardless of whether they actually existed on the ground or not. The missing track had never been built.
Sep 17, 2018 4:27 PM # 
"...most useful ones are the 1960-1980 vintages."
I generally agree, but the best looking contours I ever noticed were on some even earlier versions, perhaps 1930's 40's(?), with language about "made from plane table survey". The ones I've viewed were in the New England area, and included complex topo so the difference was easy to observe.
Sep 17, 2018 5:59 PM # 
I've tried to get Strava to fix the Slide Tool function with OSM several times via twitter. I'm planning to write a letter next. I was hoping someone might know good contact info. I can't find Strava on I did find this:

I was thinking a letter to the founders might be the trick. If anyone has ideas or suggestions (or an address), please let me know.
Sep 18, 2018 3:26 PM # 
No contact info but some names....
Oct 20, 2018 10:01 PM # 
Use You can make a jpg map at a precise scale of any of their many map layers. Open Cycle will usually have the best / most current trail data. (USGS layer usually is terrible for trail data, because the scanned maps maybe decades old. Take your 1:24K JPG image of Open Cycle layer, insert it in OCAD as a base map, trace your trails, BAM you are done.
Oct 21, 2018 11:28 AM # 
In the US, the National Map site has been improved:
Click on "add data" and upload your GPX file.
Then under "Layer List" select "3DEP-auto contours"
Oct 26, 2018 2:56 PM # 
The Open Cycle trails are identical to OpenStreetMap trails, but possibly rendered in a better manner. Consider nagging Strava to fix the broken functionality of the Slide Tool so it shows the Strava Heatmap layer properly. (It's been broken since the articles in the press earlier this year.)

This discussion thread is closed.