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Google Earth / Google Maps

Google Earth is a free, highly interactive, easy to use mapping program from Google. You can load tracks and waypoints into Google Earth and explore them on a 3D globe. These tracks and waypoints are readily available for you to download.

Google Maps is a web-based program that can let you explore the trail through your web browser. It also lets you see topographical maps of any part of the trail.


Google Earth allows you to see the trail from the air. It provides an interactive map which you can use to find all kinds of services, get driving directions to the various trail heads, find resupply points, etc. Perhaps more so than any other program available, Google Earth can give you incredible insight into the trail.

Google Maps lets you view and print topo maps of any part of the trail (in fact, any part of the Inited States) at several different scales.


For obvious reasons, Google Earth and Google Maps are not practical while on the trail. You could print the topographical maps from Google Maps for the entire trail, but at that point you’d be much better off by printing your own Half-Mile maps. In theory you could use Google Earth from a cell phone on some parts of the trail, but at that point you’d be much better off with a GPS.

Where to get Google Earth / Google Maps

Google Earth may be downloaded (for free) at

Then you’ll need to download the PCT.kmz file.

Once you’ve downloaded the .kmz file double-click the file and it will open in Google Earth.

To view the PCT using Google Maps, click here (it will open in another window). Once it loads, zoom into any part of the Pacific Crest Trail (indicated by the blue line), then click on either the ‘MyTopo’ button or the ‘Terrain’ button to see the topographical view. This application is powered by It may seem slow due to the large amount of information processing required.


Has the information above changed? Know something other hikers should know? Leave a comment below.