For Fellow CalTopo Users: What CalTopo custom base layers and custom overlays do people use?

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06 May, 2021 06:48 PM

What CalTopo custom base layers and custom overlays do people use?

Context: I am working on a CalTopo map with custom base layers and custom overlays, and I'd like your ideas and suggestions for custom layers and custom overlays to include. Thanks!

  1. 1 Posted by caver456 on 06 May, 2021 07:55 PM

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    Hi, another Tom another user here. Of course there's no one answer. I'm
    on a SAR team in a place where the USFS maps have good coverage for
    everything up the hill, but no coverage for anything down the hill, so even
    within our team we just encourage all the users to take time to get
    familiar with the different layers. For up the hill in the national
    forest, I like the Forest Service Topo 2016 (green) cause it's a lot higher
    resolution that the scanned USGS. Adding some relief shading makes it
    visually pop a lot more. Turning on the mapbuilder overlay as needed is
    good, to get the 'real' trails as opposed to the FSTopo handwaivey ideas of
    trails (which are occasionally spot-on but I would never bank on it).
    Slope angle shading is also great to make the steep bits visually pop out
    more. That's a start, but the only good answer is to get all your users to
    futz around with the available layers as part of their homework. Enjoy!

  2. 2 Posted by Tom on 06 May, 2021 08:20 PM

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    Tom, Thanks for your insights and tips, much appreciated!

    What "Shaded Relief" base layer(s) do you like to use, and at what opacity? (ex. Normal, Enhanced, Terrain Shading, Custom Relief [from the Add/Custom Layers menu], etc.).

    I'm especially interested in learning about custom layers users have created,m and/or found and that they find useful or "interesting".

    Some of the custom layers I've used include:
    - a custom DEM slope angle shading, with Green = 15° -25°, and Grey = 25° -27°; I use this with the "standard" CalTopop slope-angle shading layers that cover 27° and higher, that has the yellow, orange, red, purple, blue, and black shading

    - a custom high-resolution coverage layer, that shows where CalTopo offers high-resolution, LIDAR-derived elevation estimates and slope angle shading estimates

    - a custom layer that shows hydrology, FS trails, and peaks

    - a custom layer that shows NOHRSC SNODAS snow-depth estimates

    I'm creating a CalTopop map with these custom layers, and will share it here for feedback and suggestions.

  3. 3 Posted by Tom on 06 May, 2021 08:29 PM

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    Here's a page that lists several custom layers (snow depth, snow water equivalent, bedrock, land cover, Washington State roads – present & abandoned),

  4. 4 Posted by caver456 on 06 May, 2021 08:35 PM

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    I like 25% standard relief - incidentally this is just what they have in
    the Forest Service preset. And by having the primary base layer be the
    scanned topos as in the preset, you will see the USGS map wherever the USFS
    doesn't exist.

    That's a handy collection of map info. We don't do custom maps too much,
    but the ability to read in any mbtiles files that you put on your computer
    (when running Caltopo Desktop) or on your phone with the app is pretty dang
    handy. We do have one layer we made by hand several years back, specific
    to the PCT - it includes info from various PCT guidebooks and such, that
    could serve as clues to where missing PCT hikers might be found. We have
    that as mbtiles and also served up live from our own amazon web services
    account, so we can use it online or offline.

  5. 5 Posted by Tom on 06 May, 2021 08:49 PM

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    Thanks for the tip that "by having the primary base layer be the scanned topos as in the preset, you will see the USGS map wherever the USFS doesn't exist." That's a good reason to not use FS maps as the primary base layer, that I had not learned on my own.

    Thank you, very useful!

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