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Re: Best Sierra Topos

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Best Sierra Topos
July 12, 2011 03:43PM
I'm looking for the best maps for Tioga Pass, Palisades, and the Whitney area. Does anyone have a preference? I was recommended Tom Harrison Maps (http://www.tomharrisonmaps.com/) but I personally haven't used them before, and I'm hesitant to buy a map I haven't actually seen with my own eyes. Durability isn't an issue. I don't plan on bringing these into the field. My ideal map would be like a big overview of these places -- big/detailed enough to calculate approximate elevation gains and losses, trailheads, basic recreation stuff, but not as granular as USGS quad maps. Let me know if you can help. Thanks.
Re: Best Sierra Topos
July 12, 2011 04:09PM
The Harrison maps are good--much cleaner cartography than some of the better-known brands that use way too much color for my tastes. The Harrison maps are good enough for on-trail use, but I think you really need the 7.5' quads for cross-country. I also like the National Geographic topo program, which provides statewide seamless USGS quad coverage--this is what I use for waypointing and printing maps. My current favorite for looking for new trips is probably the iPad/iPod Topo Maps app, which allows downloading quads onto your iOS device for offline (backcountry) use. The www.closedcontour.com site mentioned here looks great, but I haven't used it extensively. The PCT Postholer guy is also working on some computer-generated maps that are looking really good.

One thing about Harrison: several of their maps are redundant, but the more specialized maps don't really offer much more detail. The "High Country" series offers the best coverage for the money.
Re: Best Sierra Topos
July 12, 2011 04:48PM
Thanks. I have the NatGeo CA TOPO program and I also just discovered Gmaps Pedometer. They're both awesome, but again, I need a good "overview" map. Maybe I'm to lazy to print out and tape everything together.... I have an old Forest Service Operating Map on my wall and need a good replacement. The most important thing is that the trails and trailheads are marked clearly.
Re: Best Sierra Topos
July 12, 2011 06:15PM
Another good overview map is the John Muir Wilderness set published by the USFS. It covers mostly the Eastern Sierra and Sequoia/Kings Canyon with three large sheets.
avatar Re: Best Sierra Topos
July 12, 2011 06:51PM
Likely comprises too extensive an area for what you are interested and not a topographic map (terrain shading), but a really nice wall map ( 30" x 50" ) that covers the entire Sierra Marmot Empire:

(Independently Yours)
The Marmots

Voice of the Rocky Marmot Empire

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/12/2011 06:55PM by szalkowski.
Re: Best Sierra Topos
July 12, 2011 04:58PM
Harrison maps seem to be more accurate. They went out and walked the trails with a wheel... someone I know met Tom Harrison on a trail one day doing just that.

They are also better for actual navigation use. The large NatGeo maps of entire parks are not always accurate on miles and difficult to use an interpolator on.
avatar Re: Best Sierra Topos
July 12, 2011 06:22PM
I like the NG ones. For those areas 205 and 206. Best is so subjective.

Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Best Sierra Topos
July 12, 2011 06:31PM
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This beholder likes Tom Harrison maps. They are accurate and seem to "carry better" on hikes, at least for me.
avatar Re: Best Sierra Topos
July 12, 2011 08:47PM
Ayup. I use NG Topo at home for planning but have a full set of Harrison maps to throw in the truck/pack for when I'm on the road. I usually print maps from NG topo but plans always change and it's nice to have a good overview map for those occasions. I like the National geographic ones as well (especially the Death Valley one for the old mining dirt 4WD roads).

The nice thing about NG Topo is printing out exactly what I need and being able to label things the way I want to.
avatar Re: Best Sierra Topos
July 12, 2011 09:13PM
I use Natl Geo Topo but also like this program a lot, it prints really well:
I use iGage Weatherproof Paper & a standard injet printer, fold an 8.5 x 11 sheet in four, fits nicely in a pants pocket.
Pull out a Tom Harrison or such when on top of a summit.
avatar Re: Best Sierra Topos
July 12, 2011 09:19PM
Both are decent. If I was forced to choose one, I would go with the Nat Geo maps.

However, for on the trail/crosscountry neither are a substitute for the 7.5 maps. Combine those with a decent GPS and life is good. Hitting the trails without a 7.5 map would be a poor decision in my opinion....
Re: Best Sierra Topos
July 12, 2011 09:42PM
The posted larger scale commercial maps are fine for trail users, but as some have mentioned for serious cross country navigation, nothing beats the 7.5m USGS quads. Finely scanned USGS topo:

avatar Re: Best Sierra Topos
July 12, 2011 09:54PM
The ZTopo thing I mentioned uses the same 7.5 quad data. It was written by a fellow climber.

Runs on PC or Mac. Check it out, it's free.
avatar Re: Best Sierra Topos
July 12, 2011 09:56PM
Runs on PC

By that you mean a PC running Windoze?
avatar Re: Best Sierra Topos
July 12, 2011 10:04PM
I guess so, not sure what they call it, I've always been a Mac guy. From the specs:

The Windows version requires Windows XP, Vista, or 7. The Mac version requires Mac OS X Leopard (10.5) or Snow Leopard (10.6).
avatar Re: Best Sierra Topos
July 13, 2011 11:02AM
I have a few of the 7.5 maps but could see no further detail than that provided on the Nat Geo maps.
Re: Best Sierra Topos
July 13, 2011 04:26PM
All maps are but reprints of USGS topos, with additional info on them. Harrison puts bear boxes and so forth on his. Nat Geo splashes color across theirs to indicate no camping zones. The scale is entirely variable depending on how much territory the mapmakers want to include.
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