Detailed Sierra dirt road maps?

Discussion in 'West – California, the desert southwest and whatev' started by scottrnelson, Oct 24, 2013.

  1. scottrnelson

    scottrnelson Team Orange

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    I'm finally realizing that my Zumo 550 GPS isn't good enough to help me find a way through the dirt roads up in the Sierras. On Saturday when attempting to ride the dirt roads between Nevada City and Downieville, we got lost a few times and it was only because one rider had a National Geographic Tahoe National Forest map that we figured out an unpaved route out of there that wouldn't also take us way out of our way.

    So I've figured out that National Geographic maps 804, 805, and 806 seem to cover areas that I'm interested in "getting lost" in on a motorcycle. The detail is about right for choosing roads. The problem I have is that I can't find a "big picture" map that shows where the more detailed ones are located. The National Geographic site tends to dump all maps together and it's hard enough to even narrow them down to California.

    Short of going through the numbers using Google: "National Geographic Maps 800", 801, 802, and so on, is there a better way to find out what all is available?

    Ultimately I would like that level of maps for all of the Sierras north of Yosemite up to Mt. Lassen. I already have the Butler Maps Northern California road map, and the regional maps from AAA.

    Suggestions?
    #1
  2. keeper1616

    keeper1616 Been here awhile

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    I've been on the same quest for a few months - the NPS has fairly accurate maps that cover more area than the NG maps do. The Tahoe NF map is copyright 2008 and is available for $10 laminated :evil at the ranger stations. - http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/tahoe/maps-pubs/?cid=fsbdev3_028202. I've used this for 3 years, and it hasn't gotten me lost yet.

    The El Dorado NF map was last published in 1997 and not available, but according to the ranger station, there is one scheduled to be published in early 2014. Fortunately, there is a series of OHV maps (free) that you can pickup that cover the area. I picked a few of these up along with the NG maps, but don't use the NG maps at all, mostly rely on these - http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/eldorado/maps-pubs/?cid=FSBDEV7_019087

    Yesterday, also picked up the Garmin 24k Topo West maps. I haven't looked in that much detail yet, but they seem to have all the roads/trails that are on the Tahoe map and the El Dorado OHV maps. They also have a lot of trails that aren't Moto-friendly, so I think the use there will be as a primary navigation with the paper as backup. I don't think the software can stand alone, but I haven't tried yet, so we'll see.

    I'd stop at one of the Ranger stations and see what they have - The ones I've stopped in (Nevada City, Forresthill, Placerville) all have the local NF and NG maps in stock, as well as some others that I didn't recognize. REI in Roseville also has them all, but at 1.5x the cost as the ranger stations have them.:eek1
    #2
  3. scottrnelson

    scottrnelson Team Orange

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    Thanks for the information.

    I'm still trying to get to the Foresthill ranger station, but they're only open on weekdays (when I'm working). I've picked up a few good maps at the Georgetown ranger station. The good ones aren't free.
    #3
  4. larryboy

    larryboy Chopper Rider

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    You really want something aimed at motorized backcountry travel:

    http://www.4x4books.com/can4wd.htm


    Yeah, it's a book, but I'll throw it in the backpack for day trips or you can use the GPS coords to build yourself a route.


    Here are some other good ones all in one place:

    http://www.4x4books.com/ca.htm


    If you want to get really specific for a certain area, the Tom Harrison maps are really good and are more realistic than the NatGeo maps that show all roads rather than just the legal ones like Tom does.

    http://www.tomharrisonmaps.com/locationmap.html
    #4
  5. scottrnelson

    scottrnelson Team Orange

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    I don't know if I want to haul around a 634 page 4x4 book, but it's probably something that I want to have.

    I don't see that the Tom Harrison maps cover much of what I want, though. Those look like they're aimed more at hikers.


    I'm getting lots of ideas to put on my birthday/Christmas wish list. :D
    Normally I just tell people that I don't need/want anything.

    All replies so far are greatly appreciated.
    #5
  6. larryboy

    larryboy Chopper Rider

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    It's an awesome book and even a Zumo can benefit from it...you can put in the turns as waypoints and just navigate point to point which is pretty fun to me.

    I've copied a page or two and stuck them in the map window on the tank bag. They have the best trails in these books, beats wandering around trying to find something good.
    #6
  7. joefromsf

    joefromsf Dark Happens

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    On the back of the NatGeo maps (when folded up) is a small "Regional Locator" map that shows the coverage of all the NatGeo maps in the Sierras. I suspect its probably smaller than what you're looking for though.
    #7
  8. scottrnelson

    scottrnelson Team Orange

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    And I suppose you would have to have a map in hand to see that?

    I don't see it on their web site.

    I'll eventually get this all figured out, even if I have to do a Google Search for each one.
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  9. keeper1616

    keeper1616 Been here awhile

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    Here's that key:
    <a href="http://s1367.photobucket.com/user/cyrusnelson/media/NatGeoLocator_zpsc95e57b4.png.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1367.photobucket.com/albums/r797/cyrusnelson/NatGeoLocator_zpsc95e57b4.png" border="0" alt="NatGeo Locator photo NatGeoLocator_zpsc95e57b4.png"/></a>
    #9
  10. scottrnelson

    scottrnelson Team Orange

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    Thanks. That is a big help. :thumb
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  11. catfish

    catfish Squidicus Adventurous

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    Benchmark Maps, California Roads & Rec. Atlas.
    Most accurate I've found for secondary paved vs. dirt vs. private roads that CityNav fails at.


    Catfish ...
    #11
  12. visualizerent

    visualizerent Raconteur

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    Like a lotta dudes,I use the following in descending order of scale....

    Google Earth (beforehand)

    Benchmark Atlas (CA)-don't forget to bring copies of desired area.

    National Forest maps (Tahoe-waterproof version)

    Garmin 24k Topo in a Garmin 62 GPS (Usually on sale at Cabelas as a bundle)

    The most local singletrack maps I can find like this[​IMG]
    usually available in town, ranger station, at the trail head, or internet.

    Finally, local area knowledge of others/ GPS tracks from others.

    Juan
    Nevada City
    "still getting lost"
    #12
  13. larryboy

    larryboy Chopper Rider

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    One of the best, it's in the links I gave him.

    I've got one NatGeo map of the DV area and if you went where it said there are roads you'd quickly end up on the wrong side of the law...you'd have fun doing it, but it's pure trouble.:lol3
    #13