The Adirondack Mountain Club has largely stopped making maps, with an important exception: it recently published a color topographical map of the High Peaks that is waterproof and folds to fit in your pack or back pocket.
ADK used to put paper topo maps in the backs of its guidebooks. For the past several years, however, it has instead bundled its books with waterproof maps produced by National Geographic.
So now we have two High Peaks maps: National Geographic’s “Lake Placid/High Peaks” and ADK’s “Trails of the Adirondack High Peaks.”
Both maps are designed to accompany ADK’s guidebook, High Peaks Trails. Tony Goodwn, the longtime editor of the book, also edited the new map. When we asked him why ADK wanted to publish a second map, he gave several reasons.
For starters, Goodwin said, the scale is larger (1:62,500 as opposed to 1:75,000) and the contours more precise (ten meters as opposed to fifty feet). Also, the contours are on a white background, not green or tan as with the National Geographic maps. This makes it much easier to see the topographical relief.
Another plus is that the territory encompassed by the ADK map includes all forty-six of the High Peaks. Two of the peaks, Whiteface and Esther, are missing from the National Geographic map (though they are found on another map in the company’s Adirondack series).
In addition, the new map shows designated campsites; the National Geographic map does not. Each trail has a colored oval with a number inside. The color corresponds to the markers (red, blue, or yellow) found on the trail, while the number corresponds to the trail number in High Peaks Trails, the ADK guidebook. Herd paths also are shown.
Distances are shown between trail junctions—a popular feature adopted from National Geographic.
One drawback is that it’s hard to distinguish private land from public land. Although private land is shaded slightly darker, the boundaries are not evident at glance. This is not a problem with the National Geographic map, given its vibrant colors. Goodwin said he expects the problem to be fixed in the next printing.
As to dimensions, the ADK map is only slightly smaller than the National Geographic map but folds into a much more compact size. At 4¼ by 6 inches, the folded map easily slips into a pocket or the small compartment of a pack. In contrast, the National Geographic folds to 4¼ by 9¼ inches, the size of a brochure. Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from folding it again to stuff it in your pocket, but this creates unnatural creases.
Goodwin said he expects ADK will be able to update the map often to make corrections or reflect changes in trails or land ownership.
Both maps can be purchased on ADK’s website and in stores. “Trails of the Adirondack High Peaks” sells for $9.95. National Geographic’s “Lake Placid/High Peaks” goes for $11.95.