Creating (free) Personalized Digital Topo Maps From Google Maps or NTS Map Sheets

CanMatrix Digital Topographic Maps are free, official, print-ready government of Canada topo maps.

To locate the map you want, scroll to the bottom of page to "Locate an area of Interest" and choose "By Geoname,” then enter the name of a prominent feature in the area you are looking for.

Once you have located the map sheet you want, download it using the FTP directory (link at the top of the page above the navigation map window).

The files are usually about 30MB for the 50K map sheets. I find the TIFF files are slightly easier to manipulate than the PDFs.

Alternatively, if you don’t need the UTM coordinates grid you can use the “Terrain” function in Google Maps, which may offer higher resolution in certain areas.

Float your pointer over the "satellite" box in the upper right hand corner of the map window. Click on "terrain" in the drop-down menu that appears. Navigate to the area & zoom level that you want.

Unfortunately, the print function isn't supported for the terrain imagery, so you either have to print the whole window (print command in your browser) or do a screen grab:

On a mac, type "command-shift-4"; click-and-drag over the area you want to capture with the cross-hairs that appear.

I use Preview to annotate & crop the digital maps. Although it doesn’t offer many file manipulation options, it’s fast, simple, built into OS X, and can put basic information on the file.

Doesn't replace a "real" map, but can be simple and effective for certain uses. North is always up on Google Maps.

Open the file in Preview and crop it down to the area of interest if necessary (Command-K or found in the “tools” menu). Click the “Annotate” button at the top of the window.  Use the toolbar that appears at the bottom of the window to add arrows, shapes and notes to the map. Save or print your file and update it with trip notes for later use.