What is the best scale for walking?

The scale of 1:50,000 is generally regarded as the most convenient for walking, offering the advantage of covering an area large enough to plan a variety of different walks, yet presenting that area in sufficiently good detail. But the scale is only one of the factors to be considered in choosing a map for walking; presentation of the terrain by contour lines, highlighting for waymarked or right-of-way routes open to hikers, GPS compatibility, etc, also need to be taken into account. Another consideration is durability; many maps are now waterproof and tear-resistant.

Many long-distance footpaths are now presented on strip maps, showing the trail with the surrounding countryside divided into several panels to cover a long route on one sheet.

Whilst 1:25,000 maps (particularly, in Great Britain, the excellent Ordnance Survey Explorer series) may usually show greater detail, coverage at that scale abroad varies greatly from country to country and even from region to region and is not always available. Additionally, many national survey organizations (equivalents of the British Ordnance Survey) do not distinguished on their mapping between publicly accessible hiking trails and restricted access private footpaths, or publish very small size 1:50,000 and/or 1:25,000 survey maps which divide popular recreational areas between several sheets.

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