Activity 5.3: Elevation Profile

Here are three ways to gather an elevation profile on a site.

1. Google Earth (any size sites)

Google Earth is very helpful in learning about your landscape and completing design work. You download and install the desktop program for free. This tutorial will show you how to make an elevation profile with Google Earth  

2. Topo Map (medium to large sites only)

This video details the traditional way of creating an elevation profile with a topographic map: This is not a good method for small sites because on the only a few lines at most will likely cross your site. You can obtain local maps in the U.S. from:

3. Site Sketch (small sites)

Choose the place you would like to map. Set a stake with an ordered letter or number label every 5 feet. Measure the slope between each stake.

Note both the rise and the run measurements at each labeled stake (round off measurements to make it easier for yourself).

Transfer measurements to a piece of paper using a set scale (for example, 1 square equals .5 feet or one foot).

Find guidance on measuring slope at:

For this assignment,

  1. Choose an appropriate approach from above for your site.
  2. Create an elevation profile for your site.
  3. Complete this assignment by uploading your elevation profile using the submit button below.