Maps & Tools


Locating a physical lake is one challenge, but it's also difficult to find or explore lakes by searching on the Internet or on a map. Some formats make it easier than others. Here's great map from the City of Oceanside. I wish I had found it before looking for these lakes, rather than the other way around, having done things the hard way.

Using conventional online maps to find lakes is both helpful and frustrating. I'll use Lake Cuyamaca as an example. Which image provides you with the most useful data?







Which map you use depends on what you want to know -- for example, the photograph which I took from an airplane a year or two ago, clearly shows more water in the lake than the satellite images show.


It’s easy to forget how helpful a physical map can be, especially when your navigation system says “no signal”. That happens a lot out in Southern California. Notice how easy it is to find lakes on the unfolded maps? [click to enlarge any image]


Just by accident I ran across a way to generate maps on a website called LAT LONG DATA. I had selected a function called ELEVATION because I wanted to know the height above sea level for each lake. The site is capable of plotting up to 25 points on a screen, so at the time I created this map, it took three separate plots to cover all my lakes and ponds. Now it would take about 10 plots! 

The numbers represent the lakes or ponds as arranged in alphabetical order on my spreadsheet. Let's use PONDS as an example.


The two ponds in Scripps Ranch are marked with red pointers on the zoomed-in map below; pond #6 Evans /Library and #8 Hendrix. Miramar Lake is just above them. 

I entered the coordinates for these ponds and generated the map:


This online map software allows you to plot points in San Diego County. I used it to create the following map. Sadly, you can't save the file unless you have County employee login credentials. So this map is "gone" now and I can no longer update unless I cut and paste the circles all over again. Grrr.


I found a map source called In addition to showing the wind (really, it does!), Windy allows you to zoom in nicely on features that some other sources don't display. There are desktop sites and apps for Apple and Android devices.

Windy allows you to track your footsteps (or record your navigation for later recall). 


Another source is called; it runs on desktop or mobile phone. AllTrails shows you where to find hikes, provides scenic descriptions, has reports and photos from other hikers, and can continue to guide you even when the signal fades away, which is VERY HELPFUL around here!

For example, this map shows the route to the 3 Laguna Lakes. 

Honestly I am not very interested in hiking, except as a way to get to these lakes and ponds, so I haven't used all the features of these apps, such as the social media aspects.

But I do need ALL OF THEM to get where I want to go.


If you want to find more than a few lakes or ponds in one day, you might want to employ routing software to efficiently design your approach. Otherwise you could spend a lot of time zig-zagging around these rural acres.

Here's an example I made using a program called RouteXL. It plans the most efficient route, provides turn-by-turn instructions, and drives Apple or Google maps right on the dash of your car (at least it works on my Chevy and Honda with CarPlay). It's a HUGE timesaver.

Without this software, we would not be able to visit a dozen to twenty ponds in a day. Sadly, once we HAVE FOUND THEM, it takes me 2-3 more days to get the images off the camera, clean them up, load them to the web, compose the pages, get the statistics such as elevation, size and capacity, and write it all up for you.

Here's Oriente Pond.