Forum Index » Chaff » USGS 7.5 minute maps on smaller than usual paper

Display Avatars Sort By:
Ben Thayer
(Evan888) - F
USGS 7.5 minute maps on smaller than usual paper on 09/05/2008 13:05:58 MDT Print View

I have no idea where else to post this. if anybody has any ideas as to where a better place to post it might be, I would appreciate the information.

I'm hoping to hike the Arizona Trail within the next couple months, but I'm trying to figure out how to get maps for it. You can go to, any download any 7.5 minute quadrangle for free as a pdf, and then print it on your own, but they are normally printed on something like 12" x 17" paper.

How bad do you think it would be for a quad to be printed on 8.5 x 11 paper?

another question: Anybody have any other ideas as to how I can get maps without paying $6 a piece for the 80 or so quads that the Arizona trail goes through?

How does somebody hike a non National scenic trail, without paying for all the quads?


George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: USGS 7.5 minute maps on smaller than usual paper on 09/05/2008 13:35:37 MDT Print View

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: USGS 7.5 minute maps on smaller than usual paper on 09/05/2008 15:11:34 MDT Print View

They probably buy the book that describes the trail in detail and maybe not take the entire trail map at 1:24K? I don't know the usual thru-hiker map stuff. Or maybe they take what they need and get other maps in their "box" at each resupply.

Brian Barnes

Locale: Midwest
RE: "USGS 7.5 minute maps on smaller than usual paper" on 09/05/2008 15:20:21 MDT Print View

Printing a 7.5 min map on a standard sheet of paper would be nearly useless in my opinion. Perhaps a 30 minute map printed just as a general overview would be OK. You can download them at for free here:

Piecing together 1:24K sections would take a lot of time. Perhaps having the 30 minute map with a good GPS is an option?

I think I would just by the guidebook and copy the maps:

Edited by brianjbarnes on 09/05/2008 15:37:38 MDT.

Brian Barnes

Locale: Midwest
RE:"USGS 7.5 minute maps on smaller than usual paper" on 09/05/2008 15:44:53 MDT Print View

I just downloaded, re-sized to 8.5x11 inch, and printed a 7.5 minute map of the grand canyon area to make sure my assumption was correct. It was... pretty hard to read. I certainly wouldn't feel comfortable with it.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: USGS 7.5 minute maps on smaller than usual paper on 09/05/2008 18:05:21 MDT Print View

Be careful - some USGS topo maps are old. Check the date and do some verification to other sources like Goggle aerials. Some trails have had civilization creep since 1988. : )

See what is in your local library or community college. There's a ton of free info out there - growing constantly.

Brett Tucker
(blister-free) - F

Locale: Puertecito ruins
Re: USGS 7.5 minute maps on smaller than usual paper on 09/05/2008 20:07:17 MDT Print View

Here's what I'd recommend doing in this case:

1) Become an ATA member, so that you can...
2) Download the GPS track data for (most) trail passages from their website
3) Purchase National Geographic TOPO! Arizona state series
4) Import the GPS track data (GPX file format) into TOPO!
5) Print the relevant map data on 8.5" x 11" paper at 40% scale, which will yield an efficiently large coverage (fewest # of pages to carry) with acceptably small typeset

In case you're unfamiliar with TOPO!, this program uses actual USGS 7.5' map data for the entire state, displayed seamlessly, and with overlays that the user provides (such as the route line of the AZ Trail, as outlined above). So in the field, you get the best of both worlds: you'd carry just the map data you need for the hike, and you'd have the trail superimposed on those maps, which you can then cross-reference with the guidebook and, of course, reality in the field.

Edit: Just to be clear, this is the approach that most AZ Trail thru-hikers are using. It's essentially what I did for my thru-hike in 2004. You don't need to be carrying entire 7.5' quad maps - more coverage than necessary, unwieldy, heavy, and none of them will show the AZ Trail route line. TOPO! allows you to print custom maps that cover just the area of detail you're concerned with - that is, the trail and its immediate surroundings. The TOPO! map data is based on the 7.5' quads, but what you carry into the field ends up being a much more efficient and pertinent set of maps.

Many of these advantages are also common to other mapping software such as DeLorme Topo USA. However NatGeo TOPO! is one of the few that offers actual USGS 7.5' (1:24000) base map data, which is the most field-worthy, and arguably the only data worth hauling along on a trail as navigationally challenging as the Arizona Trail. (As a supplement only, the DeLorme Arizona atlas/gazetteer can be useful for its road detail and for the big picture. You might consider scanning and reducing the pertinent pages and printing on 8.5 x 11.)

Edited by blister-free on 09/06/2008 12:21:52 MDT.

Brett Tucker
(blister-free) - F

Locale: Puertecito ruins
mapping solutions for the Arizona Trail on 09/10/2008 11:33:31 MDT Print View

I know how it goes with Chaff.

Just a bump in case the original poster isn't watching the thread. (Someone may also want to PM him.)

Anitra Kass
(Anitraten) - F

Locale: SoCal
Arizona Trail Maps on 09/15/2008 00:43:53 MDT Print View

I have a good buddy who just hiked the AZT a few months ago and another buddy who is the trail steward for the section of the trail that contains the Grand Canyon. I am sure that both of them would be happy to talk maps with you. If you want their emails go ahead and email me (I tried to PM you but your profile didn't give me that option) and I'll give you their emails. My email is: at_anitra(AT)yahoo(DOT)com
Happy Trails,