Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Several of the 2,798 new US Topo quadrangles for California now display public trails along with segments of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. Also the new maps now show improved data layers such as public land survey information, map symbol redesign, enhanced railroad information and new road source data.

Several of the 2,798 new US Topo quadrangles for California now display public trails along with segments of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail.Also the new maps now show improved data layers such as public land survey information, map symbol redesign, enhanced railroad information and new road source data. Some of the data for the trails is provided to the USGS through a nationwide “crowdsourcing” project managed by the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA).

“The USGS 7.5-minute quads have been the long time gold standard for wall to wall mapping in the United States.” said Tom Lupo, Deputy Director, Data and Technology Division, California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “To me, they are the second best thing the Federal government has ever done!”

For California recreationalists and visitors who want to explore the diverse west coast landscape on a bicycle seat, hiking, horseback or other means, the new trail features on the US Topo maps will come in handy. During the past two years the IMBA, in a partnership with the MTB Project, has beenbuilding a detailed national database of trails. This activity allows local IMBA chapters, IMBA members, and the public to provide trail data and descriptions through their website.  MTB Project and IMBA then verify the quality of the trail data provided, ensure accuracy and confirm the trail is legal.  This unique crowdsourcing venture has increased the availability of trail data available through The National Map mobile and web apps, and the revised US Topo maps.

Another trail system, provided through a USGS partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, is the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. This west-coast long NST joins the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail, the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, the North Country National Scenic Trailand theAppalachian National Scenic Trail as being featured on the new US Topo quads around the nation. The USGS hopes to eventually include all National Scenic Trails in The National Map products.

The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail is a treasured pathway through some of the most scenic terrain in the nation. Beginning in southern California at the Mexican border, the PCT travels a total distance of 2,650 miles through CaliforniaOregon, and Washington until reaching the Canadian border. The PCT is one of the original National Scenic Trails established by Congress in the 1968 National Trails System Act and fifty-four percent of the trail lies within designated wilderness

Another important addition to the new California US Topo maps is the inclusion of Public Land Survey System data. PLSS is a way of subdividing and describing land in the US. All lands in the public domain are subject to subdivision by this rectangular system of surveys, which is regulated by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

These new maps replace the first edition US Topo maps for the Golden State and are available for free download from The National Map, the USGS Map Locator & Downloader website , or several other USGS applications.

To compare change over time, scans of legacy USGS topo maps, some dating back to the late 1800s, can be downloaded from the USGS Historical Topographic Map Collection

For more information on US Topo maps:


Updated 2015 version of El Capitan, California quadrangle with orthoimage turned on. (1:24,000 scale) 

Scan of the 1909 USGS quadrangle of the Yosemite, California area, to include El Capitan, from the USGS Historic Topographic Map Collection. (1:250,000 scale)

Updated 2015 version of the El Capitan, California quadrangle with orthoimage turned off to better see the various trail networks. (1:24,000 scale) 

As a result of the inclusion of selected National Scenic Trail data on the US Topo maps, 13 state map series now feature National Scenic Trails, and more will be added in the coming months. These trails have been established by Congress to provide for maximum outdoor recreation potential and for the conservation and enjoyment of nationally significant scenic, historic, natural, and cultural qualities of the area through which such trails may pass. There are 11 National Scenic Trails: Appalachian National Scenic Trail Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail Continental Divide National Scenic Trail North Country National Scenic Trail Ice Age National Scenic Trail Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail Florida National Scenic Trail Arizona National Scenic Trail New England National Scenic Trail Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail