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How to see elevation in Google Maps

Find out how high you've travelled in Google Maps and other alternatives for Android or iPhone.
By
June 22, 2022

There are many subtle features to Google Maps waiting to be discovered. One such detail is the ability to see the elevation of your terrain. This information isn’t available for all locations, mainly just mountainous terrain, but it’s always good to get a sense of the altitude if you’re going hiking or sightseeing and share your location with others before you leave. Here’s how to find elevation on Google Maps.

Read more: How to create a custom map in Google Maps

QUICK ANSWER

To see an elevation in Google Maps, select Layers and choose Terrain from the pop-up menu. Then, zoom in to see contour lines and elevation.


JUMP TO KEY SECTIONS

How to find elevation on Google Maps web

First, open Google Maps and find the location of the elevation you want to view by searching for it in the search bar or clicking on its pin.

Second, click the Layers icon in the lower-left corner of the map.

Google Maps Terrain view
Adam Birney / Android Authority

Select the Terrain icon, then select the toggle switch at the bottom of the map to turn on the elevation view. The button should be blue.

Google Maps Terrain web
Adam Birney / Android Authority

Lastly, zoom in using the Plus (+) icon in the lower-right corner or scrolling with your mouse to see contour lines and elevation.

Google Maps elevation web
Adam Birney / Android Authority

The elevation will appear faintly along the contours of the terrain — you can see some examples circled in the above image. The height is measured in feet if you reside in the United States, Liberia, or Myanmar and measured in meters if you live anywhere else in the world.

How to find elevation on Google Maps app

Viewing elevation on the Google Maps mobile app is similar to the web browser. First, enter the address in the search bar or tap on the pin’s location.

Second, tap the Layers icon in the upper-right corner of the map.

Google Maps mobile Layers
Adam Birney / Android Authority

Third, tap Terrain in the pop-up menu, then tap the X in the upper right to return to the maps view.

Google Maps mobile Terrain
Adam Birney / Android Authority

Lastly, zoom in to see the elevation faintly along the contour lines.

You’ll notice that, even with glasses, the elevation is relatively hard to read on the Google Maps mobile app and disappears if you zoom in too much. Therefore, we recommend using the following alternatives to view your elevation on Android or iPhone.

How to see elevation on Android

To find more accurate and legible elevation measurements on Android, we recommend using a different app than Google Maps.

My Elevation is an easy-to-use app that displays the surface elevation above sea level based on latitude and longitude. You can see your elevation and coordinates updating as you move and share your location with others.

My Elevation Android
Adam Birney / Android Authority

Another alternative is Google Earth, which shows more details than Google Maps but comes with a steep learning curve. The Google Earth Help page has more detailed instructions on finding elevation.

How to see elevation on iPhone

The easiest way to view your elevation on iPhone is by using Apple’s default compass app. Open the app, and Apple will display your current elevation under your location.

iPhone compass app
Adam Birney / Android Authority

FAQs

Google doesn’t use surveyor data, but it uses multiple data sources, ranging from LiDAR to SRTM to unknown sources, to determine elevation. Google started to use LiDAR twelve years ago, which gives it a vertical accuracy of 5~25cm error. Sadly, they have not publicly disclosed where it was used, but the accuracy would be significantly less for places where Google didn’t use LiDAR or SRTM. You can read more in this study.

Unfortunately, Google Maps doesn’t have a feature for finding building height, but you can use Google Earth to measure the size of buildings, trees, and other tall objects. The Google Earth Help page has detailed instructions for calculating a building’s height, width, and area.

Yes. Go to My Maps and create a custom map. Then, go to Base Map > Terrain. Google saves the elevation of the map automatically, and you can access it in Google Maps by going to Menu–> Your Places–> Maps.