Credit: United States Geological Survey

If you’re on a rafting trip, do you know how to tell on a map whether that waterfall on the map is big or small?

How do you know if there’s quicksand or an open pit in your path?

What if you’re driving down a dirt road and suddenly come upon an impassable gate you didn’t know was there?

Sorry, but Google Maps doesn’t really work in the wild. That’s why, at some point, you’re going to have to learn how to read a real map.

Field & Stream put together a really helpful primer on how to read a topographic map. If you spend any time in the backcountry, it’s worth knowing.

The United States Geological Survey has some free maps — including some of Maine — available for download here.

Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News. He's an Orland native who moved to Portland in 2002 and now lives in Unity. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the...