Plan your adventure with Gmap4

When Gmap4 creator, Joseph Elfelt, first started posting as "Joey" on, people would post a static images with GPS tracks overlayed by commercial mapping software. "Those would be nice, but an interactive map would be nicer," says Elfelt of Redmond, WA.

So in 2009 he created Gmap4, a service that let users creative interactive maps to insert into their forum posts. A year later, in 2010, Elfelt discovered MyTopo, which allowed users to add a USGS overlay.

Head on over to and check it out for yourself.

Joseph Elfelt, creator of GMap4
Start by zooming in with the +/- arrows on the left side. Once closer into an area you're interested in, start messing with the overlays on the drop-down menu titled "map" on the screen's top, right-hand side. There are regular Google Maps overlays -- terrain, satellite, earth. But more importantly, there are three USGS overlays featuring trails and other data not available from Google.

The "t4 Topo-High" overlay hosted by is the highest quality topographic map available on the web -- and it's free. The "t3 Topo Low" overlay is useful in the Siskiyou backcountry because it features some abandoned trails, roads and hand-scribed notations.

The other drop down menu allows you to draw a track and download the GPS file or display the coordinate data. It will also give you a URL to share and reproduce the map you're viewing, shade hills, display declination, and activate many other features.

Between the overlays, the production capability and the information available, has revolutionized digital mapping services. And not only does it perform better than similar programs, it's free.

That sounds too good to be true to some outdoor forums online. Elfelt was banned from a few of them for promoting his free service. Administrators assumed it was spam. "I learned to always first contact the admin," Elfelt says. "Most admins are delighted I asked." gets about 1,000 hits per day. But that's not many considering nobody else is providing a service as powerful and dynamic as GMap4. "I know of exactly one," says Elfelt. "And the developer got the idea from me."

So next time you're mapping out an adventure or just want to take a virtual trip, checkout Gmap4 at As you dig deeper, read the help manual to learn how to do things like incorporate Google Maps into GMap4. And consider giving a few bucks, too. It costs some money to host

"It has been a blast doing something so many people find useful," says Elfelt. "It was the first of its kind when it launched." That's Elfelt being humble. Gmap4 is one of a kind.