I have a KML file of a stream that I originally created as a line shapefile in ArcMap (one stream extracted from a larger watershed data set). I need to create an elevation profile of this stream. While I do have DEMs for this area, unfortunately I do not have spatial analyst or 3D analyst in ArcMap, and my employer is unwilling to purchase these tools.

Since I do not need super detailed elevations, my idea was to create a simple elevation profile in Google Earth, which can be done from a path. However, that option is "grayed out" for my KML file in google earth. Is there a way to create this elevation profile for a KML, or potentially convert the KML to a path?

This stream is very windy and while I have tried tracing in in google earth to create the path a few times, my traced path comes out very wonky, and would be fairly inaccurate.

  • Alright. So through a lot of combing through this forum and a couple others, I found a solution. Unfortunately, I could not get Google Earth Pro to create a elevation profile of the whole KML line. For some reason I could get it to create an elevation profile of a small segment, but not the whole thing. So, being mildly impatient, I gave up on that. Through reading a lot of somewhat related questions, I found out about the Elevation Profile Add-in toolbar for ArcGIS Desktop. Downloaded it, popped it into ArcMap, and for the most part it worked pretty smooth.
    – Monza
    Commented Apr 10, 2016 at 16:31
  • For some reason, this add in wasn't really "happy" with my shapefile of the stream. However, tracing this in ArcMap was a lot easier than tracing it in Google Earth would have been, so I did that and am pretty happy with the results. The elevation profiles that came out are good, and honestly usable for what I am doing, but I would like to create a better one in GraphPad more consistent with the rest of my figures and graphs in my papers. Next step is to figure out how to extract the elevation data as well as the distance between each point.
    – Monza
    Commented Apr 10, 2016 at 16:36
  • you should post it as an answer.
    – neogeomat
    Commented May 28, 2018 at 13:54
  • If scripting in Python, you can also do this with the Google Elevation API which allows you to make batch elevation requests for a given set of coordinates. Can only request something like 600 times per day, I think, though. And in my experience the elevations are noisy, and I couldn't find a source for how Google derives its elevations.
    – Jon
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 14:43

1 Answer 1


Elevation Profile Add-in toolbar for ArcGIS Desktop allows extracting profiles from paths.

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