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[cdt-l] (no subject)

This is our take on maps.  There are other opinions, other routes.
Buying maps is one of the significant expenses for the Continental Divide 
Unlike the PCT, the maps in the guidebooks are not sufficient to hike the 
since they only show a narrow corridor and there will be many times that you
NEED to have the bigger picture.  We used a wide variety of maps on our
thruhike:  state highway maps, National Forest Maps,  Bureau of Land 
(BLM) maps, and commercial maps put out by Trails Illustrated (TI) and
Earthwalk Press and Delorme.  To save weight, we didn’t carry more map than 
needed when we were on the trail.  There were maps that we purchased but 
end up carrying because they weren’t necessary (like the NF maps in Colorado
that duplicated the info on the TI maps - or NF maps on both sides of the 
in Montana/Idaho – we only carried the maps on one side.)  You’ll find the 
of maps we actually used at the end of this discussion.  Before you leave, 
it is
a good idea to mark your proposed route, and whatever alternates seem like
likely possibilities, on the maps to make sure you have the entire route 
and that you understand how the guidebooks and maps interact.
Get the highway maps for each state.  This will give you a basic idea of  
the trail runs within the state and where the nearby towns are located.  (A
discussion of towns will soon follow this post.)  Many of the trail towns 
quite a ways off trail so if you cut the maps to save weight (we did) leave 
good margin.  If you need to bail out for any reason, this can be really
essential.  And make sure you leave essential information on the section 
you’ll carry (like mileage scales, compass declination, contour intervals, 
Our National Forest maps (including the Wilderness Area maps) were purchased
directly from the Forest offices, though we were able to buy several within 
state at a time.  They are generally not topographic, except the Wilderness 
maps (Anaconda-Pintler, Bob Marshall-Scapegoat, Gila & Aldo Leopold), and 
scale is very large (sometimes covering 100 or more miles on one map), but 
are good at showing alternate trails/routes and are generally more current 
the BLM maps.  This can be important if you need to bail out or if the 
makes the situation dangerous so you need to go to lower elevation or if you 
lost.  Flexibility is key here. Although there is a lack of detail because 
the scale, they were all we needed for Montana.  Since the trail often runs
along the Divide, which is generally the division between two NF areas, we
usually only carried one of the two possible NF maps (i.e. along the 
border.)  Get whichever is the most current, as they are still constructing 
trail in many places.
In Wyoming, we used a combination of National Forest Maps, commercial maps
(Earthwalk Press and Trails Illustrated), and BLM maps.  Except in the Gros
Ventre area, route finding wasn’t that difficult.  We had gotten trail
information for the desert route directly from the BLM. There was little 
but it was sufficient, since the trail mostly follows roads across the 
	In Colorado, Trails Illustrated puts out a good series of water-resistant 
that cover the entire trail through that state.  They are expensive 
each), but since they are topographic and smaller scale than the NF maps,
they’re worth the money.  We carried, but didn’t use, many of the NF maps in
Colorado on our thruhike.  (But when we had to bail out on our San Juan hike 
1997 because of AMS, we used the NF map to find a quick way out.  If you’re
hiking northbound, I would recommend carrying the NF maps as well as the TI 
in Colorado, unless the snow levels are very very low.)
In NM, we sometimes carried up to three maps for a section of trail 
(Delorme, NF
and BLM), and found that while each had errors, together they usually added 
to an adequate picture of the actual terrain. The old Delorme Atlas had 
sources (wind mills and stock tanks) – better than the BLM maps.  I don’t 
the current ones do.   Some people think the BLM maps are great.  I didn’t, 
they worked, for the most part, despite very outdated water information.
BLM (Surface Management Status) maps are better than the regular USGS
(topographic only) maps because they show land ownership (private vs. state 
BLM) and some water sources – often outdated, but better than nothing.  
the area south-east of the Malpais in the Cebolla Wilderness in NM is now 
public land, thanks to land trades.)  We used the 1:100,000 (60 minute) 
and they were adequate.  Unfortunately, USGS no longer makes the 15 minute 
We briefly considered carrying the 7 ½ minute maps, but they ended up being
unnecessary, as well as very expensive.  I was told it would take over 400 
to cover the entire trail.  The only place we carried a 7 ½ min. map was 
west of Yellowstone, where the jeep roads are somewhat confusing.  It’s only
purpose was to help us find Latham Spring.  We did.  The BLM maps can be
purchased from USGS by phone (888 ASK USGS) or on-line.
All the maps have errors – in particular, they often do not show all the 
roads and trails that exist on the ground and sometimes they show trail that
hasn’t been built yet or jeep tracks that no longer exist.  You will 
get lost, at least once.  Expect it, but don’t worry about it.  A lot of the
country is very open, so getting found again is not difficult if you know 
how to
read a map.  As long as you are heading generally in the right direction 
or south) eventually you’ll find the trail again, if you really LOOK at the 
carefully and don’t panic.  While, generally speaking, backtracking is the 
way to find a lost trail, on the CDT there may not be a trail to find, so it
doesn’t always help to go back.
It is a good idea to contact the BLM in Wyoming and NM to find out about the
official routes through the desert and through the southern part of NM.  
have completely marked the trail through  the Great Basin in Wyoming and 
posted part of the trail through the Big Hatchets in NM.  Wyoming’s BLM 
(Ray Hanson) is known for being very helpful, while NM is less so.  (Despite
writing to the BLM 5 times, we have yet to get any information from them.  
Contact the Mountain Club of NM to find out about the relocated route south 
Cuba, NM.  Because we had a lot of time prior to our trip, we contacted each 
the NF offices to ask specific trail questions and to find out about recent
trail work.  A few offices were very helpful, a few never responded to our
queries.  Most gave irrelevant information that didn’t correspond to our
letters.  Try it though, it doesn’t hurt to let them know that we are out 
and they may become more responsive in time.
	This is the list of maps that we used.  If your route is different than 
you will need some others, but it gives you a place to start.  There’s a 
about that at the end of the list.

Northern MT:
TI #215 – Glacier/Waterton NP
Bob Marshall/Scapegoat Wilderness Map
Helena NF
Deerlodge NF

Southern MT:
Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness Map
Beaverhead NF,
Targhee NF – Dubois
Targhee NF - Island Park
Gallatin NF west

TI #201 - Yellowstone NP
Bridger Teton NF – Buffalo, Jackson
Earthwalk Press Wind River Range - North & South (much better detail than 
the NF
BLM South Pass
BLM Bairoil
BLM Rawlins
BLM Baggs,

Near the Colorado border:   Medicine Bow NF


Routt NF
San Isabel NF
Gunnison Basin
Rio Grande NF
San Juan NF

Trails Illustrated Maps (www.trailsillustrated.com) (Not in chronological 
102 - Indian Peaks/Gold Hill
103 - Winter Park/Central City/Rollins Pass
104 - Idaho Springs/Loveland Pass
108 - Vail/Frisco/Dillon
109 - Breckenridge/Tennessee Pass
115 - Rand/Stillwater Pass
116 - Hahns Peak/Steamboat Lake
117 - Clark/Buffalo Pass
118 - Steamboat Springs/Rabbit Ears Pass
126 - Holy Cross/Ruedi Reservoir
127 - Aspen/Independence Pass
129 - Buena Vista/Collegiate Peaks
130 - Salida/St Elmo/Shavano Peak
139 - La Garita/Cochetopa Hills
140 - Weminuche Wilderness
141 – Silverton/Ouray/Telluride/Lake City
142 - South San Juan Wilderness/Del Norte
200 - Rocky Mtn Natl Park

Carson NF
Santa Fe NF
Cibola NF – Mt Taylor
Gila NF
Gila Wilderness Area
Aldo Leopold W.A.

	BLM Chama
	BLM Abiquiu
	BLM Chaco Mesa
	BLM Grants
	BLM Acoma Pueblo
	BLM (corner of) Fence Lake
	BLM Quemado
	BLM Tularosa
	BLM Mogollon Mtns
	BLM Hatch
	BLM Deming
	BLM Columbus

	 Other routes (Antelope Wells / Silver City) will require different maps –
	BLM Alamo Hueco
	BLM Animas
	BLM Lordsburg
	BLM Silver City

Most of the USFS, BLM and TI maps can be purchased on-line from Public Lands
Information Center at: http://www.publiclands.org/html/home.html .  The 
range from $6.00 to $9.95 ea. The USFS and BLM have evidently out-sourced 
map sales.

The TI maps can also be purchased ($9.95 ea) at:

We got the Earthwalk maps at:  www.adventuroustraveler.com .  ($7.95 ea)  
of the other maps are also available here.

Ordering on-line is easy, but before you actually order, check out the  
and availability from each source before you give them your money (or credit
card number).  There ARE some small variations in pricing.  Another thing to
check out is ‘volume discounts’.  Why would you want to spend more money 
you have to?

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