Thursday, July 18, 2013

Wilderness Navigation: Obtaining Free Topographic Maps Part 2

A while back I did a post about how I obtain free topographic maps. You can see the post here. At that time a few of my readers made me aware of another source of free topo maps called Gmap4. Since that time I have been using the Gmap4 site to plan my trips, but I have never posted about it because until recently I was not able to figure out how to print maps from it. While I was able to locate the maps that I want, whenever I tried to print them out, I would just get a blank page. Unfortunately, the site does not have its own print function, so you have to use the browser’s print option. I’ve tried several browsers, but they have all printed out nothing but blank pages for me.

A few months ago I figured out a way around the problem. Last week Section Hiker did a post about Gmap4, where he went into great detail about the site and the different functions. Since I am not a big GPS user, most of those functions do not matter to me, but it did remind me to write this post and explain how I print out the maps in case anyone else is having the same issue as me.

To use the site just go to Gmap4 at Once you are on the main page, click on “Start Gmap4”.


This will take you to the world map page. Once there you can use the map two different ways. You can either zoom and move it around until you find your desired location, or you can just use the search function from the “Menu”.


This will open a search bar where you can type in your desired location. It doesn’t have to be an actual address. You can type in the name of a mountain, a lake, etc. In this case I will search for “Friday Mountain, NY”.


Click any of the options next to the search bar such as “List” or “Search”. and you will be taken to your location, or the site will display a list of available matches.


Once you have found your location, there are many different things you can do, such as creating a plotting a route, creating a .gpx file for your GPS unit, or you can change the type of map being displayed. The one you see above is the “t1” map, but you can also use the “t2” map which will give you the same “My Topo” maps I talked about in the last first map tutorial on finding free maps. For more details on the options as they relate to GPS use, you can look at the Section Hiker post.


Another feature which I have found very useful is the ability to obtain directions to any location on the map. Let’s say that you have found the location on Friday Mountain, and you want to get directions to a particular location on a nearby road, in this case “Denning Road”. All you have to do is move the pointer near the location to which you want directions and right click on it. A window showing the GPS coordinates will appear, and on the bottom it will have an option to get direction to or from that location.


Now that you have found your desired area of the map, and have found directions to the location, it is time to print out your map. This is where I originally had a problem with the website. The way i got around it is the same way I was able to obtain the pictures for this post.

To print, look at your keyboard. Above the arrows, near your right hand, at the very top of the keyboard (or someplace else depending on your keyboard configurations) there is a “Print Screen” button. With the window featuring the map opened, press the button. This will create a copy of the full screen image. Then, open the Paint program on your computer. Select “Paste”. The map image will now appear in your image software. You can now save or print the map using that software.

Well, that is as far as my knowledge of technology has taken me, and these are the features that I use. It is a great site an it is free to use. Much thanks to the developer.

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