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Cheminer Will

Topo and Trail Map Question

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It has been a couple of years since I looked at this and I am hoping someone has updated information?  I have been using the maps from switchbacks.com for many years because I love the way they look.  Mainly I really like the solid, rather than dotted, topo lines, solid trails, the shading, and the lack of the little "bushes" or "trees" that are dotted all over so many other maps like these. I like OpenTopoMap, but they do not seem to be available for North America. Switchbacks are no longer updated and do not use OSM data and the forums there are now offline.  So I think Switchbacks is finished.  What I think would be perfect for me would be a map like the Switchbacks topo with updating OSM data.  

 

Does anyone now know of a map for my 66 that would come close to what I like and use frequently updated OSM data?  If not might another option may be to use a visually good topo map that has no trails on it and then try to find an OSM overlay or underlay that could be loaded at the same time and has just the OSM trail data?  Any suggestions along that line?

 

Thanks.

Edited by Cheminer Will

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I bet if we gently nudge @Moun10Bike, he'd consider resuming work on his maps. :lol:

There is a map called Big Desert Southwest which is beautiful, though data heavy. It IS based on OSM (though again, I don't think it has been updated in a long time). It's also routable. My thought might be to find out how this map was compiled and see if we can replicate it for other areas of the country/world including the Northwest.

One of the problems with OSM is that it still doesn't have the trail database that the Northwest Topos (switchbacks.com) has. 

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@Mineral2 In our area there are now many trails that are on OSM but not on the Switchbacks map but perhaps that is just unique to near here.

 

I wonder why some maps that use OSM data are updated so infrequently and others very often, sometimes more than once a week.  I have read things that make me think the OSM data can be automatically updated so if correct, why would not all map makers that use OSM data update automatically.  For example the Big Desert Southwest is very nice and does use OSM data, but it says it was last updated in 2013.  Maybe that is the map itself, but the OSM data may be current?

Edited by Cheminer Will

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1 minute ago, ecanderson said:

Might as well have a look at these to see what you think - combined OSM + topo.  My personal favorite at present.

http://www.gmaptool.eu/en/content/usa-pacific-osm-topo-routable

 

 

That is the example I linked to in my post and although it is OK, I really don't like the way it looks with the dotted trails, all the little trees, and the "NR" symbols all over the map.  What is that NR? I thought it might have been only in that screenshot but I downloaded and installed to BaseCamp and the map is still covered with the NRs.

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Rate of updates is going to depend on the map-maker.  Some of them probably have a fully automated process, simply having to run a command to start the update, and sit back.  Maybe it's a bunch of steps, meaning more work, oh it can wait.  Sometimes the map maintainer just ups and disappears (which Garmin users may be well aware of).  The costs in bandwidth (the planet download for OSM is huge!) and electricity may dissuade them from updating too often.

 

My favourite maps are offline OSM from openandromaps.org (for phones), and they update only monthly for Europe, ~4 times a year for the rest of the world.  From the timestamps, I see it takes a day or two to process (copy?) a single continent, and the planet file is listed as dated a week or two earlier.  Maybe it takes that long to process the entire planet.  It's donationware.  If people donated more, maybe he'd update more often, dunno.  :)  Or maybe that's all his hardware allows.

 

Edited by Viajero Perdido
Grammar, etc

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2 minutes ago, Viajero Perdido said:

My favourite maps are offline OSM from openandromaps.org (for phones),   If people donated more, maybe he'd update more often, I dunno.  :)

 

I should have said I do not use my phone for this, only the Garmin 66st.  And I am not limited to free maps.  I would pay for one that I liked.

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1 minute ago, Cheminer Will said:

I should have said I do not use my phone for this, only the Garmin 66st.

 

I know.  It was illustrative, the only mapset I'm really familiar with, to give an idea of the processing time needed for offline maps.

 

Happy hunting.  :)

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1 hour ago, Mineral2 said:

I bet if we gently nudge @Moun10Bike, he'd consider resuming work on his maps. :lol:

 

To be honest, it is a ton of work - and I mean unsustainable - to maintain detailed maps for 6+ states/provinces by oneself. It is even harder to justify the effort when demand for GPS maps has dropped like it has with the increase in smartphones. It's for this reason that I have moved my efforts to updating trails on OSM. Like Cheminer Will, I prefer the custom visualization I created for my maps, but the benefit of having hundreds or even thousands of other people helping in the effort greatly outweighs that.

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I think the best effort might go toward making a visual style that could be applied to OSM maps. I, too, am adding trails all the time to OSM, some by simply tracing the trails from Northwest Topos and Northwest Trails, and others from my own GPS tracks and gps traces that I download from other users. The main goal is to have a rough trail reference for much of the FS areas that don't get much attention. The secondary goal is to have detailed and accurate trail data. 

So far, It's hard to find topology lines for OSM at a resolution better than 40 ft, and I'd prefer those lines be solid and smoothed as they are in many of the non-routable maps, let alone lines with numbers associated with them.

As far as the bushes and trees and other symbols and letters that dot the shaded areas in OSM maps, there are some styles that lack these, and the best repository for OSM visual styles is over at extract.bbbike.org. In fact, that site does offer a transparent contours option to lay on top of the map with lines that are solid and look decent, but the resolution isn't great and the lack of elevation numbers on the lines does mean it lacks some context.

The other missing data from most OSM maps is the hydrology layer. Many springs, streams, and seasonal creeks on the other maps just aren't available in OSM. 

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3 hours ago, Moun10Bike said:

 

To be honest, it is a ton of work - and I mean unsustainable - to maintain detailed maps for 6+ states/provinces by oneself.

 

I wanted to do the same for the southwest as I found your maps far superior to any other I could find. Unfortunately, over a time period of 8+ years, I have received only one single user submitted tracklog. So, apparently the desire to contribute data is far lower than the already low demand for the final product.

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3 hours ago, Moun10Bike said:

 

To be honest, it is a ton of work - and I mean unsustainable - to maintain detailed maps for 6+ states/provinces by oneself. It is even harder to justify the effort when demand for GPS maps has dropped like it has with the increase in smartphones. It's for this reason that I have moved my efforts to updating trails on OSM. Like Cheminer Will, I prefer the custom visualization I created for my maps, but the benefit of having hundreds or even thousands of other people helping in the effort greatly outweighs that.

 

This makes lots of sense and is understandable.  I also agree with @Mineral2 comments just above.  Jon, do you have any suggestions for OSM based maps for the GPSr that would make those of us that loved your maps at least sort of happy? Or of a somewhat easy way to have a nice topo map that could accept some sort of over or underlay of OSM trail data?  Or is that even possible?

Edited by Cheminer Will

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2 hours ago, Mineral2 said:

So far, It's hard to find topology lines for OSM at a resolution better than 40 ft, and I'd prefer those lines be solid and smoothed as they are in many of the non-routable maps, let alone lines with numbers associated with them.

As far as the bushes and trees and other symbols and letters that dot the shaded areas in OSM maps, there are some styles that lack these, and the best repository for OSM visual styles is over at extract.bbbike.org. In fact, that site does offer a transparent contours option to lay on top of the map with lines that are solid and look decent, but the resolution isn't great and the lack of elevation numbers on the lines does mean it lacks some context.

The other missing data from most OSM maps is the hydrology layer. Many springs, streams, and seasonal creeks on the other maps just aren't available in OSM. 

 

I like the smoothed, solid lines with elevation numbers also.  Just old fashioned I guess.  And yes, all those buses, trees, and other unnecessary symbols are just clutter to me.  I may be missing something obvious, but I would really like to know what all those "NR"s are that are all over some maps?  Like the ones I loaded into BaseCamp from here.

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6 minutes ago, Cheminer Will said:

 

This makes lots of sense and is understandable.  I also agree with @Mineral2 comments just above.  Jon, do you have any suggestions for OSM based maps for the GPSr that would make those of us that loved your maps at least sort of happy? Or of a somewhat easy way to have a nice topo map that could accept some sort of over or underlay of OSM trail data?  Or is that even possible?

 

I unfortunately don't have a good suggestion and was hoping people in this thread might be aware of some mapsets that I didn't know about. A good compromise might be to find/create a transparent topo contour mapset and layer it on top of an OSM mapset such as that available from http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl/.

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Does anyone else get the message I do since yesterday at that OSM link?  "Sorry, due to server problems only country maps are currently available."

Yesterday I also got a different server error message there.

Edited by Cheminer Will

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6 minutes ago, Cheminer Will said:

Does anyone else get the message I do since yesterday at that OSM link?  "Sorry, due to server problems only country maps are currently available."

Yesterday I also got a different server error message there.

 

Yes, it's been that way for a while.

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17 hours ago, Moun10Bike said:

 

I unfortunately don't have a good suggestion and was hoping people in this thread might be aware of some mapsets that I didn't know about. A good compromise might be to find/create a transparent topo contour mapset and layer it on top of an OSM mapset such as that available from http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl/.

 

I am not expert at all on the technical aspects of this but I was wondering if you, @Moun10Bikecould without a ton of work make your NW Topos available in a form without the trails on it?  In a form that could have the OSM data overlaid on it?   Then it would be stable and permanent and would not need to be updated. On the GPSr we could enable your Topo map and an OSM overlay.  Would that even be workable?

Edited by Cheminer Will

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It would be a fair amount of work, especially the ramp-up to get my systems set up to generate maps again. I haven't released any in 6 years and I've switched computers a few time in that period.

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On 11/10/2020 at 11:48 AM, Cheminer Will said:

 

That is the example I linked to in my post and although it is OK, I really don't like the way it looks with the dotted trails, all the little trees, and the "NR" symbols all over the map.  What is that NR? I thought it might have been only in that screenshot but I downloaded and installed to BaseCamp and the map is still covered with the NRs.

 

I did not see that anyone had an answer to why that map is covered with "NR"s?  Here is a screenshot so it is obvious what I am referring to.  Anyone know?

 

 

NR.JPG

 

Also that map is OSM data and the trails in OSM have names on them.  If you click on a trail in BaseCamp, the trail name does pop up but is there any way to have them display on the map?  Or is that controlled by the map maker?

Edited by Cheminer Will

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OK. Thanks.  Sort of ruins the map for me at least to have hundreds of those on the screen. Plus the area mapped and covered with the NRs is just a city park.  I suppose it could be called a nature reserve, but even if it is, what purpose is there in completely littering the map with NRs? 

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On 11/10/2020 at 2:14 PM, Mineral2 said:

the best repository for OSM visual styles is over at extract.bbbike.org. In fact, that site does offer a transparent contours option to lay on top of the map with lines that are solid and look decent, but the resolution isn't great and the lack of elevation numbers on the lines does mean it lacks some context.

 

I tried out the bbbike maps and they look good on the website. I found not all of the formats work when downloaded for BaseCamp or the GPSr.  But one I found that does is the garmin-opentopo-latin1 format, except that even though it does show the topo lines on the bbbike website, they do not display in BaseCamp or on the GPSr.  Which format do you use successfully from bbbike?

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1 hour ago, Atlas Cached said:

Do not download the unicode versions, they do not work on modern Garmin GPSr.

 

 

I tried what bbbike calls the 0pentopo-latin1 version and also the Garmin Cycle (Latin1) version.  Both look fine on the bbbike site but do not display the topo lines for me in BasdCamp or on the 66.  What would you suggest?

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None of the maps themselves show topo lines. If you scroll down the list, you'll get to the STRM data for which there is a Garmin option. This will produce a second transparent overlay map that you will have to install and enable separately, but will contain topo lines. Unfortunately, the resolution is only 40m, or approximately 130 feet. Better than nothing, I suppose, but not useful out here on the plains.

I currently use the Fiets style, which isn't perfect, but looks ok when zoomed in.

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Ok. Thanks.  Surprising how difficult it is to get something good.  But I suppose if I had never used the Switchbacks maps, I would not know any better and would be more easily satisfied.

 

 

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Jon's map is one of the best out there. There are others, though... the state Topo maps are also quite detailed, though also out of date at this point regarding roads. Jon's Northwest Trails overlay map covers more area than his Northwest Topos does, so I do end up just overlaying trails on top of other topo maps. For the rest of the country, there is a trails overlay called My Trails that is pretty good and is gets updated more regularly, but the last update was in 2018. 

For hiking, I don't really require up to date trail information. For the most part, FS trails have been around forever and haven't changed significantly over the last 10-20 years. Same with the national parks. And topography doesn't really change that much either except in a few rare instances. For hiking, I don't really care about roads. And I didn't really care about them for geocaching either, but I now live in a place that is rapidly growing and updates to the man-made landmarks haven't even made it to Google maps, let alone Garmin. It seems that OSM users are more on top changes.

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1 hour ago, Mineral2 said:

And I didn't really care about them for geocaching either, but I now live in a place that is rapidly growing and updates to the man-made landmarks haven't even made it to Google maps, let alone Garmin. It seems that OSM users are more on top changes.

 

Which is why I suggest users looking at getting a new Garmin GPSr consider those devices that include the new TopoActive maps pre-installed, which include free updates twice a year.

 

Others may purchase TopoActive maps for their current GPSr, but they will not enjoy the free updates provided to the devices with pre-installed TopoActive mapping.

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TopoActive still doesn't have elevation lines, as I'm aware of it. But I agree that it is probably the best solution, at least for future GPS purchases, since it includes Garmin's collection of POI and is a routable map and has a cleaner design than any of the OSM map styles currently available.

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TopoActive does include elevation lines, however only at 100ft intervals.

Adding a transparent elevation map with more frequent contours may be preferred for some users, however I suspect the TopoActive 100ft (30m) contours will work for 'most' (not all) users.

 

Example: Bright Angel Trail at Grand Canyon Village

 

 

1140.png

Edited by Atlas Cached

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Yeah, that'll work in places with big elevation gain. In the Dakota Badlands, the 500 ft elevation differences require a finer resolution to see the formations, but I'll take it. Ok, Garmin, when can we see an Oregon 800?

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The topo active works I guess if you can get the updates.  I have a recent purchased version but bought it thinking it came with updates.  It does not.  I find I don't really use it much though because I am so used to the 40' contours.  After all these years my brain sees 40' contours and I know without thinking what to expect on the ground.  I guess it is just what you are used to.  Who would have thought it would be impossible to find a decent 40' contour topo map with updating OSM data even if willing to pay for it?

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Y'all should be sending this request to Garmin.

Perhaps there is very little demand (if any) as far as they are aware for better topo line resolution?

 

eMail and call them, asking if they can increase the contours to 40ft intervals!

 

update:

 

Turns out the TopoActive maps are essentially replacing the Topo 100K maps that were previously preloaded on the 't' model GPSr, and those users who desire more detailed contours will need to purchase the 24K Topo map for the desired region.

Edited by Atlas Cached

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I'm guessing there is a deliberate reason why Garmin chose to include only 100 ft intervals. I can think of two:

  1. Keep the map's file size down
  2. Entice users to buy their state/regional TOPO maps

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20 minutes ago, Mineral2 said:

I'm guessing there is a deliberate reason why Garmin chose to include only 100 ft intervals. I can think of two:

  1. Keep the map's file size down
  2. Entice users to buy their state/regional TOPO maps

 

Doh!

 

Garmin Topo 24K (2009) Bright Angel Trail at Grand Canyon Village

 

274.thumb.png.dbfd7d6cd26290e62fffa0683bbef58c.png

 

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2 hours ago, Mineral2 said:

Keep the map's file size down

 

If this mattered to them, they'd probably remove the "Ft" from every last contour label.  I've never seen a map with that; what useless clutter.  (If you don't know whether your elevations are feet or metres, you shouldn't be stepping off the pavement.)  :lol:

 

PS, there's also the separate issue of accuracy.  Tighter contours won't help much if the raw data is inaccurate.  As an example, I produce this gem from an old map that shall remain nameless:

d6dc461f-f6a0-49d9-8d22-f8d28b73ee8c.jpg

Edited by Viajero Perdido

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I guess that for now I may just have to be satisfied with http://www.gmaptool.eu/en/content/usa-pacific-osm-topo-routable  I am ok with how the Garmin 24K map looks, but I would want it to have more recent, accurate, and updating trail data.  It just seems like there must be a decent 40' contour map that could have a transparent OSM trail map displayed on it.

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2 hours ago, Cheminer Will said:

It just seems like there must be a decent 40' contour map that could have a transparent OSM trail map displayed on it.

And maybe it's just something we need to make - together or individually. There are a number of tutorials out there on how to gather the data and compile it for Garmin GPS. It's probably just a matter of sitting down and doing it.

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That is a very good idea. I would do it in a heartbeat if I had even close to enough technical competence to attempt it.  I am a pretty high end user of technology, but because of a missing gene or something, am usually unable to do anything more than make a mess once I start straying from that. A transparent 40' contour line only map that would display over the map I got from bbbike.org would be close to perfect.

Edited by Cheminer Will

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