Since back in the days of "here there be dragons," maps have told travelers where to go. In wilder areas, topographical maps—those that show the contours of the earth with lots of squiggly lines—are crucial for allowing hikers to avoid cliffs, gullies, and other death traps. Who would guess they'd go out of style?
Last spring, REI's flagship stopped carrying topo maps made by the United State Geological Survey. The company cites a trend toward electronic navigation—smartphone maps, GPS—as its reason. Still like an old-fashioned topo on paper? Here's where to find them in Seattle:
There are charts aplenty in the downtown emporium, including USGS maps, though they may need to order the particular region you need. Even when you're not planning an expedition, the store is heaven for mapheads.
1511 First Ave, 206-623-8747; metskers.com
The Mountaineers Bookstore
At the headquarters for the 106-year-old club, a bookstore sells USGS and Green Trails maps as well as forest-use passes and Sno-Park permits. They also have many of the books released by their publishing arm, and you don't have to be a member to explore the Magnuson Park store.
7700 Sand Point Way NE, 206-521-6002; mountaineers.org/bookstore
World Wide Travel Store
Like REI, the Wallingford shop doesn't have USGS charts, but they do carry Green Trails versions (as does REI). The Seattle-based Green Trails designs their maps with USGS data and produces them just for Washington, Oregon, and bits of the Southwest.
4411 Wallingford Ave N, 206-634-3453; wideworldtravelstore.com
Online, free PDFs of some 141,000 USGS maps can be downloaded at the USGS website, including century-old versions for when your day hike is headed through a rift in the time-space continuum.