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Hiking and Backpacking

This guide provides links to multiple resources for hikers and backpackers.

Geospatial Services Librarian

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Nathan Piekielek
W-1B Pattee Library
Donald W. Hamer Center for Maps & Geospatial Information
The Pennsylvania State University
University Park, PA

Donald W. Hamer Center for Maps and Geospatial Information


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Introduction to Maps

Print maps remain the preferred navigation aid and general reference resource for hiking and backpacking. A good hiking and backpacking map should highlight recreation trails, clearly indicate public versus private land, as well as depict fine-scaled topography and elevation.  Other nice elements of a recreation map include mileages from trailheads to trail intersections, depict multi-use versus hiking only trail use designations, and may even show good sources for water and indicate locations for campsites.


The Maps Library has GPS units available to borrow for a one-week loan period.  These Garmin Oregon 450 units have many features and are custom maps compatable and Geocaching-friendly.

Purple Lizard Maps

Purple Lizard Maps are created by "an independent cartographic design firm dedicated to making beautiful maps of special places for people who want to make the most of their outdoor recreation."  These maps are an excellent source to locate trails and also provide a helpful supplement to specific trail maps.


United States Topographic Maps

For more information on USGS Topographic Maps, see the Maps Library Guide to Topgraphic Maps.