3D Distance?

Rowen's Avatar


10 Sep, 2021 07:34 PM

I'm creating a map for one of the mountain passes nearby and I've used a line to trace the road from start to finish. Caltopo says it's 16.50 miles long with +5,800 ft of elevation gain and -4,800 ft of elevation loss. I know that if I were to walk this route it would be 17.1 miles of walking. Caltopo seems to just be calculating the length of the line in the x, y plane. Is there any way to get a distance measurement of this line in the x, y, AND z, plane? (Taking elevation into account?) I have seen this called 3D Distance before.

Any suggestions?

  1. Support Staff 1 Posted by Julie on 10 Sep, 2021 11:14 PM

    Julie's Avatar

    Hi Rowen,

    Actually what is happening here is the the line on the map that you are tracing to get that distance is probably not as accurate as your are assuming it to be. Maps are inherently inaccurate to some degree and the line you traced would totally depend on who recorded and drew the data. The difference between 16.5 and 17.1 is actually pretty negligible when considering map accuracy - particularly if the source is OSM, or OpenStreetMap, which is a crowd sourced data collection. If you were to view the same route on Global Imagery and retrace it by hand instead of using snap to, you would likely get yet another number for the distance.

    Hopefully that helps answer your question. We also have a resource page about the topic if you are interested in digging into it further:


  2. Julie closed this discussion on 10 Sep, 2021 11:14 PM.

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