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Consider a route on a map between two waypoints. Google Maps will calculate the distance between the two, and display it for you. This is very handy. Thank you Google Maps!

Consider a route where the route is straight, and the distance 'as the crow flies' between those points is 1 mile. Change that scenario to include a hill at a 30 degree slope between each point.

If the route contains hills with significant inclines or declines, does the calculated distance represent the true distance?

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migrated from superuser.com Nov 23 '11 at 22:50

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It is worth noting that a stetch of road that is 8% longer in surface distance than map distance is very steep (That is what grade means, after all). So these adjustments are generally quite small... –  dmckee Jul 25 '09 at 16:48

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Yes. Based on several trips through the mountains that the Google map directions were accurate for the trip

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Interesting. I'd guess that each component of a road/path in their data also contains information about its physical distance. –  jtbandes Jul 25 '09 at 5:45
    
There are many freely available elevation layers, I'm sure google makes use of one. The USGS has a huge free dataset available for the whole US. –  Paul McMillan Jul 25 '09 at 8:40

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