CalTopo Base Map of Isle Royale Features

Questions about trails and campsites on the island.

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CalTopo Base Map of Isle Royale Features

Post by Backpacker534 »

Hello all, I've been working on a project for quite some time and figured I would share it with everyone here.

I created a CalTopo map to use as a base layer for my upcoming trip (May 2023), as well as future trips to the island. In a nutshell, this map contains Lat / Long coordinates for a ton of major features and points of interest on and around the island.

What I plan to do, and what I did for my upcoming trip, is to export the data from my base map and import the data into a new map that I will use during my trip. Once all the points were imported into the new map, I simply went through the list and deleted the data / points for the places that would not be relevant to my upcoming trip.

As it currently stands I have the following categories for my base map: Campgrounds, Docks,, Islands & Rocks, Landmarks, Lighthouses, Mines & Mining Communities, Mountains & High Points, Points of Interest, Portages, Shipwrecks, Trails, Trail Intersections, and Water Features.

If you have never used CalTopo, I would suggest giving it a look. It is a powerful tool for planning backpacking trips and navigating in the outdoors. There are plenty of YouTube videos and an online manual for how to use it's various features and functions.

If you have never used CalTopo, or exported / imported CalTopo data, here are a couple links to get you started:
CalTopo Website
https://caltopo.com/about/

Importing Data
https://training.caltopo.com/all_users/ ... ort/import

Exporting Data
https://training.caltopo.com/all_users/ ... ort/export

Disclaimers:
1. This is a work in progress and may change over time.
2. There are certain things I have not included because of the abundance of extra work, i.e. all the many, many structures on the island like old cabins, outbuildings, hotels, etc.
3. I did my best to locate accurate Lat / Long coordinates and descriptions for certain data points. I also tried to make sure descriptions were accompanied by the URL for where I found the descriptions.
4. Some data, such as portages, were simply drawn in based on information I found online and in books. As such, they may not be in the exact location, but hopefully they are at least close enough to use as a general point of reference.

Brian's CalTopo Base Map
https://caltopo.com/m/2MGR9
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CalTopo Screenshot.jpg
Last edited by Backpacker534 on Tue Mar 14, 2023 8:16 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: CalTopo Base Map of Isle Royale Features

Post by dcclark »

Wow, this is fantastic! I'll be using this with my upcoming trip for sure.

One nice feature of CalTopo (or maybe its underlying data suppliers?) is that trail mileages tend to be more accurate than other maps, because they're based on some kind of average of real GPS tracks.
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Re: CalTopo Base Map of Isle Royale Features

Post by Backpacker534 »

dcclark wrote:Wow, this is fantastic! I'll be using this with my upcoming trip for sure.

One nice feature of CalTopo (or maybe its underlying data suppliers?) is that trail mileages tend to be more accurate than other maps, because they're based on some kind of average of real GPS tracks.
Interesting! I never knew that.

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Re: CalTopo Base Map of Isle Royale Features

Post by dcclark »

I mainly know it because I helped make a similar map for the Porcupine Mountains. Not nearly as polished or complete as yours. The Porkies are notorious for extremely inaccurate trail mileage markers, so it was really needed.
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Re: CalTopo Base Map of Isle Royale Features

Post by Backpacker534 »

dcclark wrote:I mainly know it because I helped make a similar map for the Porcupine Mountains. Not nearly as polished or complete as yours. The Porkies are notorious for extremely inaccurate trail mileage markers, so it was really needed.
Wow! I like your Porkies map. I'm going to bookmark that one for the next time I'm there. I've backpacked the Porcupine Mountains twice and hope to return again one of these days.

The one thing that really jumped out on your map was all of the unbridged river crossings. I remember those quite well because it was always such a process to cross them... remove shoes and socks, secure shoes and socks somewhere, undo the hip belt buckle, carefully make my way across the river and slick rocks, dry feet, put socks and shoes back on, and continue hiking until the next river crossing. Image

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Re: CalTopo Base Map of Isle Royale Features

Post by dcclark »

Backpacker534 wrote: Wed Mar 15, 2023 5:49 am
dcclark wrote:I mainly know it because I helped make a similar map for the Porcupine Mountains. Not nearly as polished or complete as yours. The Porkies are notorious for extremely inaccurate trail mileage markers, so it was really needed.
Wow! I like your Porkies map. I'm going to bookmark that one for the next time I'm there. I've backpacked the Porcupine Mountains twice and hope to return again one of these days.

The one thing that really jumped out on your map was all of the unbridged river crossings. I remember those quite well because it was always such a process to cross them... remove shoes and socks, secure shoes and socks somewhere, undo the hip belt buckle, carefully make my way across the river and slick rocks, dry feet, put socks and shoes back on, and continue hiking until the next river crossing. Image

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Thanks! The Porkies are my first love in backpacking, and I try to do at least a short trip there every year. I remember reading your Porkies trip log from the 2000s and enjoying it!

There are probably even more unbridged crossings than the last time you visited... bridges have been washing out and the park isn't replacing them. Even more rustic than before!
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Re: CalTopo Base Map of Isle Royale Features

Post by Backpacker534 »

dcclark wrote: Wed Mar 15, 2023 7:06 pm Thanks! The Porkies are my first love in backpacking, and I try to do at least a short trip there every year. I remember reading your Porkies trip log from the 2000s and enjoying it!

There are probably even more unbridged crossings than the last time you visited... bridges have been washing out and the park isn't replacing them. Even more rustic than before!
I can't believe you remember my trip reports from that far back. I stopped doing them because they took so much of my time. Now I do YouTube videos.

I guess the park is saving money by not replacing them and it definitely provides a much more rustic and wild experience when people need to wade through flowing rivers.
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Re: CalTopo Base Map of Isle Royale Features

Post by RedLeg »

CalTopo is nice, I have the full subscription for some mapmaking stuff for the island I was experimenting with. I have a nice custom raster map but am still working on creating a custom vector map with qGIS.
Any qGIS guru's hanging out here that can lend a hand?
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Re: CalTopo Base Map of Isle Royale Features

Post by Backpacker534 »

I don't know how I overlooked this category for my Isle Royale CalTopo map, but I did. So, I just updated the base map to include Transportation.

The category now includes: Isle Royale Line (Copper Harbor, MI), Isle Royale Seaplanes (Hancock, MI & Grand Marais, MN), Ranger III (Houghton, MI), Grand Portage Isle Royale Transportation Lines (Grand Portage, MN).

Each entry contains: address, phone number, website URL, and a brief description of the vessels / planes.

I hope people find this map useful for trip planning and navigating. Enjoy!
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Re: CalTopo Base Map of Isle Royale Features

Post by odd man out »

I used CalTopo maps at the Grand Canyon last year. I didn't bring my phone on that trip so I just printed custom maps. I like the way you can zoom on any area you want and print exactly what you need vs buying a big map that show 20 times more area than I can co er in a few days. I'm already printing maps for IR this summer.
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Re: CalTopo Base Map of Isle Royale Features

Post by Buckeye »

Brian,

Thanks for sharing this. I use CalTopo for all of my backpacking trips. For my last ISRO trip in 2021, it took quite a bit of work to use. This will be a big help to all.
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Re: CalTopo Base Map of Isle Royale Features

Post by Backpacker534 »

Buckeye wrote:Brian,

Thanks for sharing this. I use CalTopo for all of my backpacking trips. For my last ISRO trip in 2021, it took quite a bit of work to use. This will be a big help to all.
You're welcome, Buckeye.

I cut my "backpacking teeth" on Isle Royale, and it has drawn me back to its tranquil surroundings many times.

I've been using CalTopo for a few years, and when my upcoming May 2023 trip took shape, I decided to create a map for the trip.

One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I was obsessed with adding more and more information. I decided to keep going and just make it a base map with a ton of information.

When I finished what I set out to do, I realized there may be many Isle Royale fans who might find this useful and... I knew just where to share it.

Enjoy!

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