View Full Version : Tool for calculating elevation gain on the AT?

10-26-2014, 08:56
I'm looking for a simple tool that lets you put in AT mile point A and mile point B, and it will tell you the cumulative elevation gain for that section? e.g., a single day of hiking, or for a section hike.

If one doesn't exist yet, I'm happy to write one.


10-26-2014, 09:16
Well, there is this http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/content.php/49 and this http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/content.php/19-data-and-schedules but I don't think there is a tool exactly as you describe (input mile markers, get +/- data either as a cumulative gain or as a summation function), though the data certainly exists to do so. map man may have done something like this, but I just don't know.

10-26-2014, 09:34
Does one really need a tool for that? Most hikers carry profile maps, it's not too hard to estimate the verticals involved for a day's hike.

Any tool you write will have the same well-known flaws as the profile maps themselves. I sometimes wonder if I'd be better off not knowing, or at least not dwelling on the verticals ahead of me. (It gets back to Cookerhiker's PEE concept, the "Problem of Erroneous Expectations.")

10-26-2014, 10:12
Thanks, it looks like TopoFusion might be able to do it, although I haven't tried downloading it yet:

10-26-2014, 10:16
Here's an easy tool for the AT: take your daily mileage, and divide by 3. That's probably how much climbing you did that day (note: divide by 2 for New Hampshire. Divide by 1 for Maine).

10-26-2014, 10:54
Thanks, it looks like TopoFusion might be able to do it, although I haven't tried downloading it yet:
http://www.topofusion.com/at-gps.phpTopofusion does indeed work great for this... just create a "track" along a section of trail (using the tool that looks like a pencil), then click the "profile and playback tool", click on your track and a nice little profile summary shows up for you. I have a list of AT shelter points that loads into topofusion, meaning a nice list of waypoints for the AT, if you want them.

This all being said: I much prefer the NGS "TOPO" program, though it does cost some money. topofusion is "free" if you don't mind having a "DEMO" watermark all over your map.

No, no one really needs this kind of tool, but it's still fun to play with.

10-27-2014, 12:03
Look here:


10-27-2014, 12:37
Appalachian Trail Distance calculator.
Starting point to ending point.
this is easy to find you should have no problems.

10-27-2014, 12:58
Sorry my last post just does the miles and not the elevations, if you want elevations look on a map or an AT Compannion.

10-27-2014, 17:10
TOPO maps can do some calculations based on a map plotting line, but trails move around and the accuracy is not all that high if you trace along the old USGS trail lines that are commonly on these old sectional maps . Most GPS devices can calculate the elevation gain/loss, their accuracy is higher but I don't know to what extent. For me, GPS give me "close enough" elevation gain/ There is no tool that I know of that allows you to determine the miles walked by using the vertical rise/loss component added to the two dimensional mileage it tracks. Given the different grade percentages one crosses on any particular uphill or downhill.

10-27-2014, 18:11
Here's an App for a smart phone, it may do what you want. "Theodolite"


10-27-2014, 21:43
Here's an App for a smart phone, it may do what you want. "Theodolite"


Try Ridewithgps. if you see a man on the map close enough you can see the at trail and at that point you just click your starting spot and go from there. of the right hand side of the webpage is a menu so you can change the settings of what you're trying to do always put it in walking and avoid highways and it will follow the AT.

Odd Man Out
10-28-2014, 00:26
Map Man has an article where he reports his calculations for elevation gain and drop per mile for each section of the trail. I extracted this data to a spread sheet and used it to calculate total elevation gain and drop per section. From this, you can easily calculate the drop and gain for any section you are hiking. The data is probably a few years old, so there will be some differences between today's numbers and these numbers. But I don't know a better data source. What is different about these numbers is that he didn't just subtract the net change of elevation between points, but counted contour lines crossed (up and down) on topo maps for each section. the data is for a NOBO hiker. For a SOBO, the gains become drops and the drops become gains.

this is the article

This is my spreadsheet.

10-28-2014, 01:48
The thru-hike planning spreadsheet posted on the White Blaze home page (sorry, no link handy) gives elevation gain and loss for each day's "planned" hikes. You could also hike with a GPS watch like the Suunto Ambit, but battery life would be an issue.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

10-30-2014, 10:59
This is my spreadsheet.

That is excellent - many thanks!

11-11-2014, 11:15
Based on Odd Man Out's spreadsheet data, I've knocked up this little web tool for easy calculation of height gain for any given section of the AT, northbound or southbound. Hope someone finds it useful!