Sunday, March 18, 2012

Topo maps on Google Maps

Two websites integrating topo maps with Google Maps recently came to my attention. The first is, which I discovered via Groundspeak. The other is, found via Google Maps Mania. I haven’t had a lot of time to explore these, but these are my initial impressions:

Topographs allows you to add GPS tracks, though not directly. But it is SLOW. At least it is on my computer. BackcountryMaps is faster, but there appears to be no GPS interface.

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Technorati tags: GPS, Google Maps, topo

About Rich Owings

Rich is the owner, editor and chief bottle-washer for GPS Tracklog. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus.


  1. Google maps is certainly very cool (especially once you add in the hooks to display Topo maps). I too jumped on the wagon and enacted a “Google Mapper” to display my gpx trails data and waypoints. And seeing that you blogged about it, I thought I would share some of my thoughts on it.
    Ok yeah, it can be slow. Google Maps is (mostly) a javascript based API, which means most of the processing is done client side (on your computer rather than on the server) – so speed is partially dependent on how fast your computer is. Overall, its excellend for displaying points and its simpler incarnations, but when you start plotting polylines that have more then a few points, things begin to get nasty. So nasty that several of my larger gps tracks would crash my browser entirely! Which is why I felt I had to add a nice warning to my users for said instances. On the flip side, it IS very easy to work with and there is an amazing number of hacks and communities that have popped up in support for it.
    I should also mention that I found that IE seems to be able to render larger polylines then Firefox 🙁
    But all in all, as much as Google Maps does, for me its not enough and I have begun to rewrite my own mapping module. But I am still keeping my Google Mapper because its cool 🙂
    PS – check out the Google Mapper GPX route creator I wrote. Allows you to add as a bunch of route points and generate a GPX route to download. I thought it was cool 😉

  2. Thanks Nathan. Yeah, maybe it’s my computer slowing things down some. I’ve got a lot of mapping programs on my laptop and things are beginning to get a bit buggy. I may bite the bullet and wipe the HD before long. Topographs’ sample was slow on my desktop too though, so maybe the tracks are affecting it.

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