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Different Base Maps (35) Top Level

Once you are looking at a Gmap, you can switch base maps using the drop down in the upper right corner. For example, switch from Experiment with this.


  h Hybrid satellite shows labelled logging roads
  t1 Google Terrain (this is now the default for area maps to start)
  t2 MyTopo best artwork and matches Western Canada CanMatrix in GPS
  t4 Caltopo (BC Trim data,for logging roads and peak heights
  t5 Topo Canada - has good contour labels
  t8 Topo OSM Cycle World - shows trails

  1. h - Aerial Google Hybrid
     This is one of the most useful displays in GMap, more useful than the plain Satellite maps because roads and peaks are labelled. If you zoom in to 100m scale, you see road labels. These are often pretty good names for the roads, although sometimes they will label a whole set of forks with the same name.

  2. t2 MyTopo
     This is the default display for Bivouac. In all Canadian provinces it displays scans of the familiar 1:50K National Topographic Series (NTS) paper maps. These are some of the best maps ever made, and have the most suitable contour interval and coloring for Canadian mountaineering. The contour interval for many areas is still 100' contours, and in some areas 40m contours. One flaw is that the contour lines are very sparsely labelled making it difficult to determine the elevation of a given point. The "t5 Topo Canada" labels are much more useful, and I often briefly flip to this view when getting elevations for road waypoints. In western Canada, the Mytopo maps match the map set called "Western Canada CanMatrix" which is available in many GPS Apps like Backcountry Navigator, or Gaia GPS.

  3. t4 CalTopo
     Despite the GMap label "USA", in BC this shows the 1:20,000 TRIM data. The trim data is newer than the old 1:50K maps and in some cases more accurate. It shows calculated spot heights of many more mountains. It shows a vast network of logging roads as dotted maroon lines. Most of these are overgrown or irrelevant, but the display is still useful for digitizing when the satellite view is too dark to see. When in USA Caltopo shows the USGS maps, and high resolution. Eg: Go to Mount Mckinley and switch between CalTopo and MyTopo. You see that the CalTopo is the same map but much higher resolution.

  4. t5 Topo Canada
     This display shows Tiles from a modernized version of the old NTS 1:50K maps. The government produced these by scanning the old 1:50K maps with some sort of program that recognized the contour lines. So the contour lines are just the same old ones on the 1:50K maps, but clearer. Most useful is that the contour labels are generated automatically and much more frequent than on scans of the old paper maps. I always use this display when trying to fill in elevations for road waypoints. For lakes, rivers and streams it uses the 1:20K TRIM data rather than the old creeks shown on the 1:50K. The TRIM has many more streams than the old 1:50K although some are insigificant.

  5. t8 Topo OSM Cycle World
     Despite the misleading word "cycle" these maps are often very useful for locating trails not in bivouac. For example, if you go to Mount Seymour and zoom in to 100m, you'll see a vast network of trails shown as maroon dotted lines. Many of these have trail labels. These trail networks tend to be best in popular areas near large cities. In more remote areas there will be nothing. And in areas such as around Mount Macdonald on Vancouver Island, they show a vast network of trails and some don't exist at all. Unlike the Bivouac trails, you can't click on them to see any information, or to see where the source of waypoints came from.