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Using Technology to Help Plan Your Next Paddle

By Mike Cocat

You just learned about a new stretch of river, and you’re doing your homework prior to heading out. How do you calculate trip distance? With Google’s free online mapping tool, it’s easy! Just follow the steps below to get started:

  1. Using any internet browser on any computer you can access the mapping tool at http://google.com/maps.
  2. Locate the lake/river you want to measure. This can be done in multiple ways. Search for a point of interest close to your put-in, like a forest preserve name or city. If you are familiar with the area, just zoom in to the location using your mouse wheel or the on-screen zoom function.
  3. Right click on the portion of water where you intend to start your paddle, when the menu pops up, click “Measure distance.”
  4. Now, with your left mouse button, click a section of water in the direction you will be heading. Immediately it will begin to calculate your distance between clicks and add up the total distance. This will be displayed on the screen near your most recent click.
  5. Proceed to click along your intended trip path. Note, that each click will be a straight line from your previous click, when going around bends make sure you follow the contour of the water.
  6. Feel free to click and drag the map, or zoom in and out, as you plot your trip.
  7. When you reach your take-out, click one final time and take notice of the final trip distance. If you look back at your path, it will be conveniently marked at each mile increment.

A video demonstration – https://youtu.be/upf0OcL2hGg

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to ask on the PSC/Yahoo mailing list, zenpaddler.com, or via my email.

Mike Cocat



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