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General Category => General Discussion => Topic started by: fcoulter on September 26, 2012, 03:36:41 PM

Title: Map Review: A Wealth of Riches
Post by: fcoulter on September 26, 2012, 03:36:41 PM
I just recently found this site, right before getting a new GPS.  (My old GPS was the yellow eTrex.  It was black and white, you couldn't upload maps to it, it didn't have a base map, and you needed a special cable to download waypoints, etc., to a serial ports.  Anyone remember serial ports?)  One reason I got a new GPS was that I found this site, which would let me avoid spending hundreds of dollars on maps.  There was, after all, a topographic map of Florida available, as well as a map with hundreds of trails on it.

Sounded useful.

So I downloaded the maps, found a trail near my house I didn't know about, and went for a walk in the woods, tracing my route, etc.

Lo and behold, a few days ago another topographic map of Florida became available.  So I thought I'd take the time and compare the maps to see which one was more useful.

The first image to look at is the trail on Google Earth.  The image doesn't show it, but basically it's a pine forest with some open space.  Since it's in Florida, a lot of the land is wetland, and the trail was ankle deep a few spots.

Next I used the Global Map that came with BaseCamp.  (I should mention that all these images from here on are from BaseCamp.)  I didn't expect the road that the trail started on to be on the Global Map; after all, it's free.  But it's interesting that according to the map, the trail started a little south of International Speedway Boulevard (US 92), and not a little north of it on Old Daytona Road.  From this, I'm not getting a warm fuzzy feeling about the Global Map that Garmin gives us.

Then I used the Florida Topo map that I had downloaded when I got my GPS.  This one seems to be a good fit with reality.  Interestingly, the trail already appeared on the map, with a few minor changes.  (Either the trail was rerouted after the map was created, or the Saint Johns River Water Management District didn't publish good data on the trail.  Given the difficulty I had turning the SJRWMD map into an accurate overlay, I suspect that their information wasn't accurate in the beginning.)

A couple of days ago, a second topographical map was downloaded to the site: USA Florida by MapsBank v1.00.  The description talked about how they were attempting to capture vegetation on their maps.  Sounded interesting, so I downloaded that map, too.  While there's a lot more green on their map, I'm not so sure that it works for me.  First, the secondary roads (Old Daytona Road) doesn't appear on the map.  Those secondary roads are extremely useful when finding the trailhead.  And the amount of green is almost overwhelming.  I wonder if they used some sort of hatch pattern, such as the wetlands pattern, would the chart be easier to read?

The picture doesn't show it, but the MapsUSA map has a wider variety of POIs than the Florida Topo map, but some of them are glaring.  Railroads, for example, really stand out.  (Which is odd, considering that roads don't.)

For the time being, I think I'll stick with Florida Topo, at least for use with BaseCamp.  I'll take a look at the two maps on my GPS on Thursday.