What the best hiking topo maps including trails for Canada?
What the best hiking topo maps including trails for Canada?

Like US topo 24k map.

Ken in Regina
The latest Garmin Topo Canada product is excellent. It includes pretty much everything in the Metroguide Canada street map product plus the elevation contours and all the smaller roads and trails of the topo product.

If you want an excellent free topo product for Canada do a search for "Ibycus topo Canada". It's a pretty big download, but it's great if you want a freebie. It does not have autorouting or POIs or address searching but it has, arguably, a more up to date display. It looks just like the paper topos you buy. That's because it's based on the same data that is used for the paper topo maps.

Thanks a lot! Downloading the Ibycus now. so big! 3G
I've tried that topo map for Canada v4, the trails' info is not good.
Ken in Regina
What area(s) of Canada are you most interested in for trails? There are lots of groups and individuals who are sharing track files of their hiking, biking and ATV travels. Some are sharing just the raw track files, which are really quite useful, and some are turning the track files into transparent overlay maps. Some are doing it as a collective effort, like the folks in Calgary. They have a transparent overlay for all the trails west and south of Calgary. It is slowly extending down into the Crowsnest Pass area as they continue to add to it.

I can point you at a couple for the southern Rockies. There are loads of track files available for various parts of the TransCanada Trail. And so on.

I got the Delorme and it's maps were a disappointment as you predicted.
I am sending it back to get another unit.
Which unit from which manufacturer would you recommend.
I am mostly interested in topo maps of the newfoundland back country?

Thanks again
Ken in Regina
I hate sounding like a Garmin fanboy but Garmin devices really give you the best opportunity to get coverage. That's because it is well known how to make maps that will work in a Garmin device and there are lots of tools out there to do it. So there are loads of Garmin-compatible maps available for various purposes. And many of them are free or really cheap.

Your best starting point would be to get one of their handhelds bundled with Topo Canada v4. In addition to the typical coverage of topographical maps, e.g. minor rural roads, logging and forestry roads and even some trails, water features like lakes, rivers and streams, you also get all of the road routing data and POI data that you get in the Metroguide Canada road maps.

As mentioned above, you can download Ibycus' topo maps for Canada for free. It's big and you have to download it all to get the parts you want. But the price is right. Here's one source for v2.1.

Ibycus Topo 2.1 (Windows), from Ibycus Software - Software Downloads - TechRepublic

If you know how to download torrents, your search engine will find lots of sources for you. Avoid Ibycus v3.0 and 3.1 because they have some data issues. I have not seen use results of v3.2 so I don't know if everything is sorted in it or not.

If you don't want to download it and don't mind paying a little bit for the convenience, you can get it on SD card here. You can get just Eastern Canada or Western Canada or the whole country. Check to be sure which version you are getting if you go this route.

GPS Maps of Canada

Your search engine is your friend. A search for "garmin compatible maps newfoundland" turned up these sites, along with a bunch more you could check out.

Search free Garmin® maps by location

Topographic Maps on CD-ROM Quo Vadis Newfoundland

If you want to be able to check out the quality of any of the free maps before you buy a Garmin GPS receiver, you can download Garmin's Basecamp map viewer/planner program to use on your PC and start playing with any Garmin compatible maps you find.

If you want to know a bit more about free or open source maps and using them with Garmin stuff, go here, scroll down a bit to a little blue index and click on "Custom Garmin Maps".

WikiProject Canada - OpenStreetMap Wiki

If you like exploring the wilderness, sometimes poking around with your search engine can be as interesting and rewarding as any hiking trip.

Ken in Regina
Another suggestion to help in your quest for a new GPS device...

The "GPS and Technology" section of the Groundspeak Forums at GeoCaching.com is quite helpful. Any handheld device that works well for geocaching will usually make a great hiking GPS, although some may have features you don't care about, like the ability to download geocache info onto the device.


As you might guess, "What GPS should I buy?" is a fairly common question there, so the first sticky in the forum index is all about that. You can browse through the forum index and you'll see discussion threads on a variety of different devices and they're usually fairly informative if you ignore the occasional "Mine's bigger than yours" silliness. And there are lots of knowledgeable folks there who will answer any questions you have. It's a much better place to get help selecting a handheld device than here.

If you know what specific features you want, or at least some of the most important, Garmin's product pages make it fairly easy to narrow things down and then do a side by side feature comparison. If you aren't sure what some of the features are, just holler.

If you look at GPS City, click on Maps, click on Topographical: Canada, you will see that they have some Garmin Oregon models bundled with Topo Canada v4 right now. There should be links to the model specs along with their product descriptions. That's not an endorsement of the Oregon, just another data point for you to consider.

Happy hunting.

Much obliged Ken,
That is the way I was leaning, it's to bad the Delorme didn't work out, the SPOT add on would have been a big asset but without a good set of maps the price just wasn't worth it to me.
I like the idea of being able to get a set of map data with Garmin and being able to update and manipulate it to fit my needs.
I was talking to a Garmin dealer the other day and he informed me that in the early new year Garmin is going to update there GPS400 AND 500 units to take topo, I think it will address my needs and being Garmin I will be half way there.
Thanks again
Ken in Regina
Hi rockminder,

I agree about the built-in SPOT feature. That's sure attractive for those of us who like to disappear into the outback from time to time.

You might also want to take a look at Garmin's Birdseye Satellite Imagery. They are trying to catch up with a feature that DeLorme pioneered with, I think, the PN-40 ... to have the ability on the device to display raster images and a service to select and download the aerial imagery you want.

I don't know what Garmin's aerial coverage is like because my eTrex Legend HCx won't display raster images so I have no interest at this point.

I would sure change my tune if they would release a version of Mobile PC on my laptop that could display raster images!!! (Are you listening, Garmin???)

Anyway, you might want to get a Garmin handheld that is capable of using this feature in case you might want to take advantage of it in the future. Much like with Garmin vector maps, there is already a bunch of knowledge out there about how to capture and use your own raster images for the Garmin devices that can support them. As I mentioned above, the Groundspeak tech forum at Geocaching.com also has a wealth of information about this feature and how to take advantage of it, too.

By the way, when you are talking to a local Garmin dealer you need to be sure you understand exactly what they are talking about ... because sometimes they don't have a clue. For instance, are you aware that the GPS400 and GPS500 are aviation units? The GPS400W is one of the cheaper ones and it's over $8,000 dollars (yep, 8 followed by three 0's.

It's designed to install into the dash of an airplane .. comes complete with the basic wiring harness. ... Hardly something you want to go hiking with.

Also, you might want to verify what they mean when they say those devices will "take topo" some day. If they are talking about the avionics devices like the GPS400, etc., what they probably mean is that they will be upgraded so they can use standard roadmaps. Most avionics units use a basemap, terrain maps and the Jeppeson navigation database but do not use roadmaps. Any that will use Garmin's standard vector roadmaps will also use Garmin's topos or any Garmin-compatible maps.

On the other hand, if they were actually talking about the 400 and 500 model of one of their popular hiking handhelds like, say, the Oregon line, those devices already "take topo". That is, they will allow you to load and display any Garmin-compatible vector map like the ones I mentioned previously from a variety of sources. Those include topographic maps. There isn't a single handheld device in Garmin's line that won't let you load and display topographic maps. Some do a better job than others. But they all do it.

So in that case, they were probably talking about an upcoming upgrade to allow them to load and display the Birdseye aerial imagery I mentioned above, which is raster images rather than vector data. None of their older models, and not many of their newer models support raster data. They are adding the feature to many of their new models and providing software upgrades for some of the newer ones that have the hardware ability but not the software feature. If I was buying a new one and wanted the feature, I would buy one that comes right out of the box with it rather than mess with an upgrade that might or might not have some limitations.

I hope that all made sense to you. And I sincerely hope that you and your local Garmin folks were all on the same page and they weren't just trying to blow smoke up your kilt.

The models that I was told about is the GPSMAP 400 and 500 series, marine units.
I have a Oregon 450 with Canada topo maps coming from GPSCITY.
From what I see this should do the trick and with what you said about the extra maping options with help from here and the other forums it should keep me out of trouble or at least busy for the winter.
Thanks again for the help.
If ya gets to the ROCK sometime, screch is on me. lol
Ken in Regina
I think you'll have fun with that one and if you decide you want to go for the aerial imagery it supports Garmin's Birdseye files.

Happy hiking.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you.
I bit the bullet and purchased a Garmin Oregon 450 with the Canada Topo 4.00 CD.
So far everything looks nice but the map detail is not what I would like the roads are not up to date, fairly old to be exact.
I have a lot of learning to do to be able to use it to it's fullest potential.
I have a bunch of maps in a png format, and thye maps from my old Magellan Map send canada topo.
The base camp software won't import them.
Is there other software that will import and export to an acceptable Garmin format.
I have access to aerial imagery , is there a special format or software to use these maps?

Thanks for any help that may be floating out there.

Ken in Regina
Your search engine is your friend.

I know there are lots of discussions over on geocaching.com's Groundspeak forums about how to get imagery onto Oregons and Dakotas. I'm sure there are more on other forums and blogs. Just search for something like "convert to garmin birdseye" or something like that.

Here are a couple of hits that might be helpful:


Moagu and G-Raster - Raster topographic maps and aerial imagery for your Garmin GPS

Good day
I tried to get the download to work from Ibycus but ran into many problems, from low disk space on puter to the zip program not being able to unzip the file when I did get it downloaded.
I am looking for just the Newfoundland and Southern Labrador maps for now.
I found a site, and these I think will be the correct maps.
What program will I require to manipulate to get the maps in the proper format to be able to be used with my GPS as well as be used to make a custom map,( overlay with an areal or satellite pic).
I also found a source of maps in ( png format, are these use able for Garmin units )?
Like the tortoise slowly but surely I will get there.

Ken in Regina
Did you check the links in my previous post? Everything you need to know to make raster maps and get them into your Oregon should be in the Oregon Wiki.

You need Basecamp (free download from Garmin's web site) to transfer regular maps into your Oregon. I don't know if it is also the program that puts raster maps into it or not. I haven't done anything with raster maps.

The Ibycus topo you downloaded is probably one of the 3.x versions. I also couldn't open it. Search for a source for Ibycus 2.1. It's a little older but it doesn't have some of the issues with the road network that the 3.x versions do. I'm still using 2.1.

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