For most of my adventures I will include a specific route that shows the way to the place that I am highlighting. These routes will be in the form of a KMZ file that can be opened in Google Earth. If you have Google Earth on your computer and you open the file it will automatically open Google Earth and plot the route and the file will show up in your My Places in the upper left hand menu. When you close your Google Earth program it will ask if you want to save the route.
If you right click on the route in your My Places directory and select Show Elevation Profile it will give you good information related to the total length of the route and changes in the terrain. As I said before, Google Earth is a great tool to help you plan any adventure.