View Full Version : Paper Maps thread

05-29-2012, 12:41 PM
How about a dedicated thread for paper map discussions, recommendations, suggestions, etc.?

I've got a few of the Delorme and Benchmark atlas books, and a sparse collection Nat Geo maps, plus some of the published books like Wells and Massey. The atlases are good for high level planning, but lack detail (IMHO) for specific routing in some cases. Then there are GPS maps, which are fun when you have a big enough screen, but I don't favor much for route planning/finding (and are not that helpful on a bike) - I prefer paper. So that leaves the "quadrant type" maps - big enough to see detailed trail and topo info in a defined area, specific enough to find roads and trails that are open for travel. They are also good when you are just out "exploring" without a defined route.

I'd like to hear from folks about what paper maps they favor for using to plan and navigate trails. I tend to like the Nat Geo/Trails Illustrated maps because they have good detail and are easy to find. But at around $10 apiece, it's going to be expensive to build up a library for all of Colorado and Utah.

What do you guys like?

05-29-2012, 12:49 PM
NG/TI maps as you say. I just get 'em as I need 'em and hold on to them.
Also printing out web maps from online resources...

05-29-2012, 01:16 PM
I like the MVUM- motor vehicle use maps, issued by the various ranger districts for Colorado. The Boulder Ranger District and Clear Creek Ranger district maps cover quite a bit.

For Moab, I've got some of those glossy National Geographic maps that I like a lot- Moab North, and Moab South.

And for high level planning, yeah the Benchmark blow away the Delorme, IMO.

05-29-2012, 01:27 PM
Trails Illustrated, like Bill.

MVUMs are free but only cover motorized parts of the forest. They also don't show topo nor do they label all features like mountain ranges etc. They are a little on the large side and hard to carry in your pocket too.

The USFS maps are pretty good, but also pretty high level.

I always carry my Gazetteer in my truck, grab a USFS map and TI map whenever I go anywhere for an afternoon, and seek out more detailed maps if needed for specific areas (Rampart, 717, Indian Creek/Colorado Trail/Waterton mtb loops, etc.).

The newer Latitude 40 Moab East/West and Taylor Park/Crested Butte maps are pretty good too.

05-29-2012, 02:10 PM
I generally go in this order:

Gazetteer state atlas, UT, CO, NM, MT, WO, AZ
Latitude 40 (if available for the area are great)
Trails Illustrated or Nat Geo (I have most for UT,CO)
What ever else I can find
USGS Quads.

Most of the quads are so dated at this point. Plus I've never had one that contained everything I wanted on just one. I can't even catch a break at home as my house is right on the boarder of its quad.

The topo software is pretty cool in you want to invest into it and print your own maps. Scale and detail to your own desire.

05-29-2012, 03:38 PM
Corbet, I think you mean USGS quads?

Yeah, in college we decided that the cooler a trip was going to be, the closer to the border of a quad it was going to be. "Preferably" the trip would spill over onto 3 or even 4 quad maps :rolleyes:

It is cool to go to The Map Room at the Federal Center once in a while, was there on Friday in fact :thumb:

05-29-2012, 05:11 PM
We run paper maps just about exclusively. I did get an old Garmin Nuvi 350 to tinker with but don't have any topo map software for it, so it's not terribly useful off pavement beyond giving me a "You Are Here" reading. I usually don't bring it for vehicle travel in fact, since my ham radio is a FTM-350 with GPS and so it gives me present location data.

We have just about every Trails Illustrated for Colorado and a handful for bordering states. We have and still buy a TI for every place we go and it's taken 15+ years to build them. We have almost 50 of them in our map case.

In additional, we have a handful of Latitude 40 maps, which are just about as good at TI IMHO. Also have a few MVUM where they are handy, but they are secondary to the TI or Lat40 for the location. We also have the DeLorme Gazetteers for most all of the states west of the Mississippi, which we find quite useful for vehicle travel.

05-29-2012, 05:12 PM
I wanna see a picture of your map case Dave :)

I have the TI map program, but don't ever use it to print off a map of a given area. Paper isn't as durable as plasticized paper, and having multiple 8 1/2 x 11 sheets is no fun :(

As much as I'll do with it is track a trip afterward for mileage and elevation; I've posted up screenshots here of what that looks like.

05-29-2012, 05:26 PM
Map case we use is a pilot's case, works well. This is just the maps, usually I replace (or add sitting on top depending on space) some of the maps with guide books to customize a little depending on where we're headed. I also rarely bring more than a couple of relevant Gazetteers.

05-29-2012, 05:37 PM
Sweet. I'm copying your idea.

05-29-2012, 05:45 PM
my .02 is To start with the Delorme and Benchmark maps for colorado and utah.

Colorado I prefer the Delorme, utah I prefer the Benchmark.

From there I usually use the National Forest maps. They generally have the most relevant info on trails, #'s, campsites, and information that I want and cover a large enough area that I don't need to carry a box full like Dave.

I have a few National geographic maps but they generally consist of a smaller area and only have "some" off trails on them. Useful for popular areas but then again I have a map to get away from those areas. They do provide more relief than NF maps so that is helpful. Same with the lat 40 maps. While they provide more detail it's packed in. It depends on the area how helpful it can be.

The massy and wells books are ok for general info. Sometimes they have relevant info on trail features that you would otherwise miss if you didn't have one or just relied on maps or didn't have someone in the group with that knowledge.

Sometimes, like the swell, the blm or county has a map of the recreation area that often has the best info.

I've been debating for years to get a gps and I totally think it's almost required hiking some trails in utah. I haven't sprung for one but i think i'm going to get a garmin 20 or 30 with colorado and utah. I can find my way around colorado fine but some places in utah with the canyons you can get lost easily. It's no wonder the outlaws favored it. it's not that I don't mind getting lost but I don't have the time like i used to :)

05-30-2012, 09:52 AM
I like the National Geo maps. How to build up your library of maps? My wife has all of the numbers that I would like to have - great stocking stuffers. I now have all of Colorado and most of Utah and other western states.

05-30-2012, 11:37 AM
Maps gotta luv 'em. I too have a box of maps from everywhere I have lived and traveled to. Some are new and some are old. They consist of all the ones mentioned in this discussion. My old M.O. was to look at the Forest service maps and then get the Topo's needed for that backpacking or camping trip. Now I start with the Gazetteer and then get more specific be it the TI or Topo's as needed. But like we say I still have that big box of maps to use when needed.

Anyone have an old old Rand McNally travel atlas where the speeds in Montana were posted as "reasonable and prudent". Ahhhh, the good ol' days.

05-31-2012, 10:06 AM
IHow to build up your library of maps? My wife has all of the numbers that I would like to have - great stocking stuffers. I now have all of Colorado and most of Utah and other western states.

Love the stocking stuffer idea!