Wednesday, January 23, 2008

National Geographic Maps to Launch Trails Database

National Geographic Maps is putting the final touches on a new Web site and related application that will help outdoor enthusiasts locate accurate trail and recreation information nationwide. TOPO! Explorer, available to the public in May, will present users with National Geographic's detailed topographic maps, aerial photography, a hybrid map made from the two, and an extensive, freely browsable, online database of trail descriptions, recommendations and unique points of interest.

At launch, the TOPO! Explorer Web site,, will contain between 7,500 and 10,000 unique files provided by government agencies, regional trail and access clubs, publishing partners and National Geographic. Users will be encouraged to review posted trip files and share their own files using an integrated publish-to-site feature as a component of a larger social-networking portion of TOPO! Explorer.

"Topographic mapping software, in conjunction with handheld GPS, has revolutionized how people navigate in the outdoors and discover new places to go. The biggest limitation has been easy access to up-to-date trail information to use with these devices," said Fran Marshall, president, National Geographic Maps. "TOPO! Explorer will enable outdoor enthusiasts to freely map, connect and share the outdoors with others, essentially creating the 'YouTube of Trails and Maps.'"

Current users of National Geographic's TOPO! map software will find many of the features in TOPO! Explorer familiar, including GPS connectivity, custom map-making tools and printing. Innovations include support for video and higher-resolution photography, seamless 3-D panning, a powerful Web-based place finder, a sleek new interface and an entirely new database of detailed maps and aerial photographs known as SuperQuads™.

Each SuperQuad is comprised of seven layers, including genuine USGS 1:24,000-, 1,100:000- and 1:250,000- scale topographic maps, i-cubed aerial photography, Tele Atlas roads, geographic names and elevation models, and a new HybridQuad™ that combines aerial photography and topographic line work. SuperQuads can be freely browsed on the Web and are available for purchase via download for $1.00 each. National Geographic has begun development to offer other maps via download from TOPO! Explorer, including its popular Trails Illustrated® maps.

Two new retail packages, TOPO! Explorer ($24.95) and TOPO! Explorer Deluxe ($49.95), will be available concurrent to the launch of the Web site this May. Both packages contain the software application that is Mac- and PC-compatible, and 25 map download credits. The Deluxe edition also will include a nationwide set of genuine USGS 1:100,000-scale topographic maps, ideal for planning trips and browsing terrain.

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