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How to find and check elevation on Google Maps

Key Takeaways

  • Google Maps allows you to easily check elevation metrics, making it easier to plan hikes and walks.
  • You can find elevation data on Google Maps by searching for a location and selecting the Terrain view, followed by zooming in on a map until the markers appear.
  • For more accurate and detailed elevation information, use Google Earth instead of Google Maps. It doesn’t only show markers for certain elevation thresholds, but also exact elevation for the selected area.

Once, when planning a road trip, a trek, or even checking out exactly where your destination was, you had to use those pesky, non-interactive maps – fortunately, not anymore. Online maps – and especially Google Maps – came around and changed the landscape completely, making navigation much easier and more convenient, and enabling tons of great features that physical maps were simply incapable of providing – such as Street View.


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Google Maps is useful not only for your everyday commute – it’s also a great tool when roaming around in the wilderness, or planning your longer hikes. One of the most important factors when checking out the trail for your walk is how high you will be climbing – it’s important to have proper gear and training, and changes in elevation are one of the most challenging parts of every hike.

Fortunately, Google Maps allows you to easily check out these elevation metrics, making such plans that much easier. Of course, you can check elevation not only on the mountain trail – you can also just get curious and look around your neighborhood, your childhood home or your favorite store, just to sate your curiosity. Here’s how to find elevation data on Google Maps – whether you’re using a mobile or a desktop version.

How to find elevation on Google Maps on a desktop

When planning your hikes and walking trips, you’d probably be using a desktop – the screen is bigger, and it’s much easier to use when you need precise controls and you’re dealing with detailed maps. Fortunately, Google Maps – along with its many features, such as elevation markers – are easily accessible on a desktop, so you don’t need to worry about getting lost in a labyrinth of settings. Here’s how to find elevation on your desktop – be it a Mac, PC, Chromebook or anything else.

  1. Go to the Google Maps website.
  2. Search for the location that you want to check out in the search bar or just simply drag the map to where you want to check the elevation.
  3. Once in the general vicinity, hover your mouse over the Layers menu in the bottom left corner.
  4. In the pop-up menu, choose Terrain view. If it doesn’t appear in the pop-up, you have to click on More and choose Terrain there.
  5. Once you click Terrain, the map should change to show the outlines of mountains, plains etc.
  6. At the bottom of the page, make sure that the toggle for View topography and elevation is turned on.
  7. Now you have to enlarge the view until you see elevation markers. You can zoom in and out by scrolling with your mouse wheel or using the + and – in the lower right corner. The markers will appear only in a limited zoom range, so you might want to be rather slow when zooming in or out on the map. These markers are the usual lines that mark the height that you’ll see on paper maps – contours of heights and elevation lines.

How to find elevation on Google Maps on Android and iOS

Even though detailed route planning is quite a lot more convenient on your desktop, using your mobile to do that – or just quickly check the elevation of a particular place – is usually so much faster. It’s always in your hand or somewhere near, so quickly looking up the height of the place when navigation is running on your phone anyway is quick, easy and convenient.

Fortunately, it’s also just as easy to look up elevation markers on your phone as it is on the desktop. Here’s how to do it on both Android and iOS:

  1. Open the Google Maps app on Android or iOS.
  2. As before, search for the location that you want to check out in the search bar or just scroll to it using maps.
  3. Tap on the Layers icon on the right, under the search bar.
  4. Now, choose Terrain as your Map type
  5. Close the menu by tapping the X in the top right corner of the pop-up menu.
  6. Now, when using maps, elevation markers will appear when you are zoomed in close enough. Unfortunately, they might be a bit hard to read, and zooming in further makes them disappear, so you might need a bit of patience to read them – or you can check them out on the desktop, where they are much more readable.


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Do all areas on Google Maps have elevation markers?

Google Maps is a great and easy way to check out the elevation of particular places, but the tool unfortunately has its limitations. In general, it’s not as accurate as specialized elevation tools, and it also does not provide you with elevation everywhere – Google has opted to stick to areas that are visibly hilly, and forego plains and other flatter areas.

This isn’t much of an issue when you’re planning a hike, but if you’re just curious, you might want to check out something a bit different. Fortunately, you don’t really need to look far – Google has its own tool that will help you be much more accurate and thorough – Google Earth.

On Google Earth, you’re easily able to see the elevation everywhere, down to the minute detail – and do so without the elevation lines. It simply shows up in the lower right corner of the screen, indicating the exact altitude. So, if you need much more granular information, Google Earth is a great resource.

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