In my last post, I wrote that you need a New York Gazetteer in order to find the trail heads in the Catskills. It dawned on me today that many people don’t have a clue what a Gazetteer is anymore. So let me explain.
A Gazetteer is a set of very detailed topographic maps used for backcountry navigation that lists among other things back roads, recreation sites, and GPS grids. DeLorme, the map company, publishes a Gazetteer for each state in the US. Each one typically lists:
- Back roads, dirt roads and trails
- Remote lakes and streams
- Boat Ramps
- Public lands for recreation
- Land use / land cover – forests, wetlands, agriculture
- Hiking Trails and Trailheads
- Prime hunting and fishing spots
- Bicycle Routes
- Excursions/Scenic Routes
- Historic Sites/Museums
Plus, all of these locations are shown on color topographic maps provided at a scale of 1:150,000.
I spend about 60 days a year in the backcountry, backpacking and whitewater kayaking, and I rely heavily on the maps in Gazetteers for finding new places to go and for figuring out how to get there. I keep a Gazetteer for every state in New England in my car, including Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts and I use them extensively for trip planning. I haven’t found anything that can compare to them in terms of detail.
You can buy Delorme Gazetteers at bookstores like Amazon.com for under $15 a state. They’re worth it.