Just released: CalTopo app for Android

Screenshot of the CalTopo app, displaying some of my Yosemite High Route data.

The website CalTopo has been my go-to mapping platform for four over years. I primarily use it to make and print topographic maps, including for all of my guided trips and high route guides. It has come a long way since I began to use it, with regular improvements to the user-interface and imagery database.

Historically, the usefulness of CalTopo has stopped at my office door, however, because it had no off-line mobile functionality, which is essential for field use. Instead, I typically export my route data to GaiaGPS, an app that allows me to download my data for off-line use and that gives my  smartphone the functionality of a conventional handheld GPS.

Today, CalTopo released its own app, creating a seamless office-to-field and field-to-office experience. It’s available for Android users only; get it at the Play Store. The founder of CalTopo, Matt Jacobs, tells me that he’s shooting for an April release of the app for iOS.

The app is free, but a CalTopo subscription ($20 to $50 per year) is required to download map layers.

By Matt’s own admission, the app is still buggy. When he sent me a download link last night, for example, I was able to successfully install it and to link my CalTopo account with it, but then it crashed and kept crashing. That issue has since been fixed. On the CalTopo blog, Matt writes:

“The app is still in development, and this is a beta test. There are probably some major bugs related to specific platforms or android versions that we haven’t caught yet, and some obvious functionality is missing, such as the ability to place a marker at your current location. We’re releasing this not because it’s a finished product, but because we’re at the point where we need testing and feedback from a broader audience.”

A track of my route during an evening walk. The track was displayed live back on the website, one of the neat features of this system.

Questions about the CalTopo app? Leave a comment.

Disclosure. Matt comp’d me a Pro subscription when it become a paid service. If he didn’t, I’d happily pay for it — it’s a great platform, and I admire how he has developed it. I have no financial interest in CalTopo.

Posted in on December 22, 2018


  1. Douche P. on December 22, 2018 at 9:40 pm

    This is great news, I can finally stop using the old APK for Avenza. I was so close to pulling the trigger on Gaia this week and relieved I didn’t. I’m excited to see how it works out!

  2. bmcf on December 23, 2018 at 12:08 am

    Look forward to the iOS app. Been using CalTopo on my Mac for paper maps for years and currently a subscriber. Having what I’ve done on the Mac now on my iPhone with GPS will be fantastic! Thanks Matt.

  3. Justin Simoni on December 23, 2018 at 4:24 pm

    This is really cool. It means one can release whole guides on CalTopo, and have a way to use them electronically while on the trail. As an author, one can simply use CalTopo to create the guide through Caltopo itself! You don’t have to tell people to download a GPX file and add it to Gaia anymore. I also don’t have to figure out how to export ALL the info found on a Caltopo map and import into a Garmin unit.

  4. Ex-BPL guy on December 23, 2018 at 7:51 pm

    On Android phone, Play Store, could not find CalTopo when searching through the app catalog.

    I followed the link you provided – Got it ! Thank you Mr Skurka.

  5. Sean on December 25, 2018 at 6:50 pm

    Great news and I’m glad to hear CalTopo progressing from the hobby it started as to a power tool for backcountry planning and navigation. I wish Matt all the success that will be coming to him: he’s earned it!

  6. Greg O on March 29, 2019 at 6:04 pm

    Great, now I generally know where you live.

    • Andrew Skurka on March 29, 2019 at 9:54 pm

      Be careful. I have a mean 79 year-old neighbor and an even meaner orange cat who guards the front door.

  7. Kit Barton on April 26, 2019 at 7:03 am

    That’s not true that the website has no offline functionality. You can export a georeferenced PDF and have a map on your phone that shows your dot, just need a program like Advenza on your phone.

    • Andrew Skurka on April 26, 2019 at 8:32 am

      Correct, there is some limited offline functionality. But once printed, you can’t sync new website data to your PDF maps, and you can’t directly sync digital field notes back to the website.

  8. Jack on April 30, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    Any word on the iOS version’s release?

    • Andrew Skurka on April 30, 2019 at 4:33 pm

      If you have an inside connection, it’s available via TestFlight. But Matt told me not to share the link, sorry. Probably soon though.

  9. Vladislav on June 14, 2019 at 1:58 am

    As of 14th June 2019: Play Store does not find CalTopo, the link you gave also gives “Not Found”?

  10. Chris on July 11, 2019 at 6:31 am

    I’ve been using mytrails for several years to track our adventures, I never got into Gaia. I’d love a way to import some of those tracks that I have saved into Caltopo.

    I love the quality of the maps and layers available through the Caltopo app. Very nice.

  11. Hazard on October 19, 2019 at 2:18 pm

    Any updates on an IOS version? Looking to do the hayduke trail and would be really helpful. Is there any gps tracks for the hayduke on iPhone?

  12. Alan Lau (aka Mr. Bean) on January 16, 2020 at 9:31 am

    Did they take down the CalTopo website? I was using it to print maps. I really liked that but it seems the link: https://caltopo.com/map.html#ll=34.86345,-82.98337&z=12&b=mbt
    doesn’t work anymore.

    • Andrew Skurka on January 16, 2020 at 9:40 am

      It’s definitely not down. I’ve been on it all morning.

  13. Jered Rhoades on March 12, 2020 at 12:55 pm

    Late to the party, but cant wait to jump on this and field test it with some off trail action in Big Bend!

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