How to Find Elevation on Google Maps Easily

Google Maps is one the most popular websites on the internet. It has a large number of useful options and features.

Google Maps has changed how people find their way from A to B. This is because of its many features and its mobility.

One of the lesser-known features it offers is terrain and elevation information. This view of a hilly or mountainous area gives a much better feel of what the area actually looks like. 

This is especially useful when traveling in a mountainous area. Yet few people know how to get Google Maps to display this view.

This article shows how to find elevation on Google Maps.

Elevations on Google Maps in a Web Browser

  • Search for a location, either by typing an address or location in the search bar or by dragging the map around with the mouse to find a specific spot. Now Google Maps will only show an estimated elevation for the location.
  • Click on Menu. This is in the top left corner, displayed as three horizontal bars.
  • Click Terrain to show elevation and topography. At the bottom of the map, there is a slider.

Make sure that this is set to View topography and elevation. It turns blue when it is on. If necessary, change it by clicking the slider.

  • Click the + sign at the bottom right corner of the map to zoom in to the area of interest. Numbers will start appearing the more the map zooms in.

However, when zoomed in too much, it will not show contour lines anymore. Click the – sign to zoom out.

Exact altitudes are not available for all parts of the world but Google Maps will give a good idea of the terrain.

Elevations on Google Maps on a Mobile Device

  • Type the location into the search bar.
  • In the app, click on the Map icon, which is in the top right corner. Choose Terrain under Map Type.

When using the browser version, click the Menu bar in the top left and select Terrain. These actions will change the appearance by showing terrain morphology.

  • To close the menu in the app, tap the grey “X” in the top right corner. Elevation lines are now visible, which will adjust when zooming in or out.

The elevation lines are the grey lines that indicate different elevations. The elevation values are faintly visible along the elevation lines

  • To zoom out, put two fingers on the map and move them apart. To zoom in, squeeze fingers together.

View a Path’s Elevation Profile

A new feature that has not received much attention was recently introduced in version 5.2. It is the elevation profile feature.

It is easy to use. Select a path under My Places, go to Edit, and select Show Elevation Profile.

This is how to do it:

  • Open Google Earth.
  • Either draw a path or open an existing one. To draw a path, draw a straight line with the Add Path tool.

Also, use this tool to draw a path. If the path is already marked on Google Earth, use the Get Directions feature.

  • Right-click on the blue line and select Show Elevation Profile. On Mac use CTRL+click.

An elevation profile will now appear in the bottom part of the screen. If the measurement shows nothing, make sure that the terrain layer is activated.

To see the distance and elevation at a specific point along the path move the mouse over the path. To zoom in to a portion of the path, click and drag over the desired area.

  • To change the measurement units, select Tools, then Options. Change to Foot or Meters under Units of Measurement.
  • To change the measurement units on a Mac, select Google Earth, then Preferences. Change to Foot or Meters under Units of Measurement.

At this moment it is not possible to export an elevation graph. For short paths, it’s possible to export the numerical values (distance, elevation) into a spreadsheet program.

Elevation Gain along Your Route

The feature that shows elevation changes along a path is useful for those engaging in sports. Sports fanatics can use it to plan their daily workout or fitness program.

Even someone that has only an hour for lunch, can use this short time to get the blood pumping.

It may also be of use for those with limited movement. It is useful for them to know whether a holiday destination is suitable for them.

In Google Maps users can specify that they are a cyclist. Maps will then add a special panel on the left.

Type the starting point and the destination and it will show a profile of the selected route. It only displays this feature if the bicycle is selected.

Moving the mouse over the elevation profile shows the elevation change at that point. It also shows the overall change in altitude, the number of meters or feet to climb, and the part of the route that goes downhill.

Only the flat sections are not shown.

If you liked this article about how to find elevation on Google Maps, you should also check out this article with map illustration examples and types of maps.

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I take it you like maps as well so make sure to check out MapSVG, a great WordPress maps plugin you should check out.