### When navigating in the backcountry you ll usually bring a topographic map that shows the terrain so you can tell if there will be steep slopes or cliffs that might make the route difficult.

Read a topographic map. Topographic maps use a combination of colors shading and contour lines to represent changes in elevation and terrain shape. Note the contour lines on the map. In each of these cases contour lines are also drawn in blue. These lines connect points of equal elevation.

It was originally developed as. To read a topographic map you need to understand the representations of the many circles and lines scrawled all over the terrain. Topographic maps are complicated to say the least. This contour and elevation inf ormation distinguishes them from other maps.

A map with contour lines on it is called a topographic map. Learning to read that paper topo map short for topographic map is every bit as essential. Common road maps are planimetric maps as well but they contain much less information. Topographic maps use green to denote vegetation such as woods while blue is used to denote water features like lakes swamps rivers and drainage.

Topographic maps are different from other types of maps because of their high level of detail. In a nutshell topographic maps allow you to see a three dimensional landscape on a two dimensional surface. Essentially topographic maps represent the three dimensional landscape of earth within the two dimensional space of a map. This article covers these concepts.

Method 1 assessing the contour lines. They show the world from a bird s eye view perpendicular to the ground. Some lines will have the recorded elevation written in the line. To read topographic maps you can assess the contour lines as well as the colors and symbols on the map.

The land survey information is a good example. At higher elevations mountains may be snow capped year around or the terrain may actually be a glacier. While most topo map users aren t trying to read the township range and section information it is still on the maps. Also known as topo maps these maps are so called planimetric maps.

They have a lot going on with different colors lines and labels all over the place. Your map will then be able to tell you a richly detailed tale about the terrain you ll be exploring. You can then orient yourself using the map so you do not get lost or turned around.