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Reading hiking maps

The better you plan your hiking trip the more you will enjoy your time. And a map of trails must be always in your rucksack, as it will greatly facilitate orientating yourself in the South Tyrolean mountains.

However, reading maps is not only important when you are on the trail, but is essential for planning your tours in advance. With contour lines and terrain features, that are accurately indicated on the map, the route is calculated. The map gives information about levels of difficulty, fixed-rope routes, mountain huts, interesting sights and reference points (glaciers, peaks, ruins…). The two latter majorly facilitate orientation in rough terrain.

Symbols & contour lines

As the maps of different producers are always designed differently, you should absolutely take a look at the map’s legend. Here, you will see how paths, sights and useful reference points are displayed on the map. Hiking paths are most of the times marked as red lines. Dashed or dotted lines indicate smaller paths or trails.

Map scale is the relation of the map to reality. Hikers and ski mountaineers should use a map with the scale of 1:250000. If you would like to measure distances on the map, you can use a thread or your finger. 1 cm on a map corresponds to a distance of 250 m on a map with the above-named scale. If the track crosses many, contour lines lying close together, the ground is steep.

The cardinal direction North is always on the top of topographic maps and hiking maps. On open terrain, north can be found with a compass or with the knowledge that the sun rises in the East, is located in the South at lunchtime and goes down in the West.

Better reliability with up-to-date maps

Particularly important for topographic maps is the year of issue, as they quickly become obsolete and lead to map image errors. All maps and of course hiking guides from South Tyrol should be as current as possible.

A detailed preoccupation with the fascinating technique of navigating on open terrain with a hiking map assures a safe return home, as well as with that incomparable feeling of independence and safety.