In the last post, I said ordering topographical maps from the USGS can be tedious and expensive. This is still true. However, what I didn’t notice was that it is possible to download high-resolution 7.5 minute PDFs of every USGS map — and it’s free.

Reader SHot70 tipped me off to the Map Locator, an intuitive Google Map mashup that lets you zoom into whatever area you’re looking for, then find what maps are available to you for download or purchase. You can download the maps as PDFs, and if you have a PC, you can download a free copy of the GeoPDF toolbar, which will let you markup the maps with GPS tracks and notes, and let you export the file as a KML or GPX file — if you >em>really want to get down and dirty.

Give it a try next time you head out!

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Casey Schreiner

Founder and Editor-in-Chief at Modern Hiker
Since founding Modern Hiker in 2006, Casey's writing has appeared in Backpacker, Adventure Journal, the REI Blog, Active.com and Sierra Trading Post's Social Hub.

He has also been featured on Good Morning America, NPR, and the Associated Press, as well as in documentaries for Columbia Sportswear and the OTIS College of Art and Design.

Casey was one of eight people chosen by the National Parks Foundation to participate in the 2015 Find Your Park Expedition. His first book "Day Hiking Los Angeles," will be published by Mountaineers Books in 2016.
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This post was written by Casey Schreiner on December 31, 2008

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