Sunday, March 18, 2012

How to load Garmin TOPO maps to your hard drive

Last month my wife and I took a mountain biking vacation in the Lake Tahoe area and, of course, we took our GPS receivers along for the ride! While I posted a trip report, complete with GPS tracklogs,  I haven’t quite fessed up to one thing.

You see, I took my laptop along for managing waypoints, tracks and maps, but forgot to take my Garmin U.S. TOPO CD. I was incredibly disappointed, since my wife and I were both sporting handlebar GPS mounts so we could keep an eye on our progress and to help us keep on track. But I’m posting today to keep you from suffering a similar fate. And if nothing else, the method described below keeps you from having to load the CD every time you want to put a new topo map on your GPS.

Putting Garmin TOPO maps on your hard drive is incredibly simple, and it has to do with the installation. Create a folder on your hard drive and copy the contents of the CD’s to it, including the setup disc. Then navigate to that folder and run setup from your hard drive, and not the CD. That’s it!

If you’ve already got a Garmin MapSource program (like City Select) on your computer, it gets a little more complicated. You could uninstall and do the above, or check out this thread on’s discussion board for an alternative method that involves a slight registry hack.

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. Has anyone tried loading these with a Nuvi 205? I realize this isn’t the best hardware solution for topo maps, but recently got one as a gift. What I’m looking for is a way to see stream names and forest roads.
    Anyone have experience with this or ideas?

  2. Yes, it will work, but you must view topo and highway maps separately. And don’t expect forest roads to be accurately placed. Garmin’s Topo product is notorious for roads being off by a certain distance.

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