How To Use Hiking Topographical Maps, Satellite Imagery, and Other Resources to Plan Hiking Routes

Updated: Feb 14

I was talking with a friend the other day when he asked me, "How can I plan a hiking or river tracing (canyoning) route, and how do I know how hard it's going to be?" It's a question that my other experienced hiking and tracing friends and I get a lot, so we had a talk about what we had figured out over the years and this is what we came up with.

To plan a hiking or river tracing / canyoning route and know how hard it might be, you need to know how to get and use topographical (topo) maps, satellite imagery, and a few other resources. You need to know what stores, websites, and apps provide them and what online communities can help you learn more. Let's take a look at how you can learn to do this quickly and easily.

Map of a hiking route to Taiwan's Zhijiayang and Snow Mountains on Gaia GPS Topo Map


Where can I find hiking routes? Is there an app to plan a hike?