Topographic Map Basics

The Basics of Reading a Topographic Map

In this tutorial, I will be teaching you the basics of how to read and understand a topographic map. This is a skill that is critically important for anyone who plans on venturing out into the backcountry. Not only is it important that you always carry a paper, hard-copy map of where you will be going, it’s also important that you know how to read it!

This article will teach you the basics, but reading and understanding topographic maps is a skill. Like any skill, it takes practice to fully master it. Simply reading a guide or watching a video will not be enough to fully understand it, so, make sure you practice!

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What is Caltopo

A Gentle Introduction to CalTopo

Today I was talking to one of the fine folks over at the Rustic Red Hostel over on Facebook when it came to my attention that he was unaware of CalTopo. This individual in question is an avid off-trail explorer in The Red River Gorge. It absolutely blew my mind that he had never heard of what is probably one of the greatest mapping utilities ever made for the backcountry explorer! So, today we are going to right this atrocity and take a look at just what CalTopo is and how we can use it.

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