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Old 12-12-2012, 08:26 PM   #1
Bob K
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GPS readings to show a new trail on topo map?

After a search came up empty – this request is for a way to superimpose a series of GPS readings on an electronic topo map in order to show the route of trails for which there is currently no good map. I assume there is a way to do this by telling the GPS to record coordinates at some frequency (while walking the trails) and having the requisite software to import those readings and then trace out a trail “between the dots”. I think I have the TOPO! background maps for the areas I’d need, but don’t know what else I need.

I’m a map & compass guy so don’t have a real GPS, but see that some Android apps exist that might make recordings. I can probably borrow a real GPS from hikers I know but would like to know what specific capabilities it needs to have in order to do this. Not looking to spend much $ on this, just trying to help out a XC ski club.
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Old 12-12-2012, 08:59 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob K View Post
After a search came up empty – this request is for a way to superimpose a series of GPS readings on an electronic topo map in order to show the route of trails for which there is currently no good map. I assume there is a way to do this by telling the GPS to record coordinates at some frequency (while walking the trails) and having the requisite software to import those readings and then trace out a trail “between the dots”. I think I have the TOPO! background maps for the areas I’d need, but don’t know what else I need.

I’m a map & compass guy so don’t have a real GPS, but see that some Android apps exist that might make recordings. I can probably borrow a real GPS from hikers I know but would like to know what specific capabilities it needs to have in order to do this. Not looking to spend much $ on this, just trying to help out a XC ski club.
If I understand what your asking, your describing what a GPS does automatically. Once you walk the trails with a gps you can then download the data to mapping software and have a printable map that would show the ski trails. I will offer my free services to help map ski trails if you'd like help?
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Old 12-13-2012, 01:32 AM   #3
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Pretty much any hand held GPS unit can record tracks (the only questions are accuracy and length). If you take that track and export it to a GPX file you'll be able to do a lot of things with it.
If you have NG Topo software installed, you should be able to import a GPX (gps exchange format) file and overlay in on the NG map. This will depend on Topo version, so it's best to check on NG site what capabilities your ver. has.

You can also use google maps or earth to superimpose the tracks. If you want to make a paper map out of it QGIS might be what you're looking for (but you have to be able to work with GIS data).
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Old 12-13-2012, 01:52 PM   #4
Bill I.
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I was always bugged that many trails that did appear on USGS quads were not always portrayed accurately. So several years ago I bought a hand-held GPS specifically for the purpose of mapping trails as I hike. In my case I hike very frequently, so after several years I now have almost complete coverage of entire trail networks in various parts of the Adirondacks.

I compile all of my weekly tracks into a "master" file for each region, and then upload the file to www.MyTopo.com. They have a feature that takes your .gpx file and prints it as an overlay on the USGS quads.

So essentially I create my own accurate trail maps that eventually reduce my dependency on the GPS.
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Old 12-14-2012, 09:47 AM   #5
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You can also display your GPX files (and TPO files) on high resolution topo maps using Gmap4. You do have to put your GPX file online. I often use Google Sites which is free and easy. Here is an example:

http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap...nson_Ridge.gpx

The Gmap4 Help file has step-by-step instructions for putting files online. The homepage has a FAQ and lots of examples.

Gmap4 default map: http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php

Gmap4 homepage: http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.html

Joseph, the Gmap4 guy
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Old 12-16-2012, 11:00 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob K View Post
After a search came up empty – this request is for a way to superimpose a series of GPS readings on an electronic topo map in order to show the route of trails for which there is currently no good map. I assume there is a way to do this by telling the GPS to record coordinates at some frequency (while walking the trails) and having the requisite software to import those readings and then trace out a trail “between the dots”. I think I have the TOPO! background maps for the areas I’d need, but don’t know what else I need.

I’m a map & compass guy so don’t have a real GPS, but see that some Android apps exist that might make recordings. I can probably borrow a real GPS from hikers I know but would like to know what specific capabilities it needs to have in order to do this. Not looking to spend much $ on this, just trying to help out a XC ski club.
There are a lot programs that will do that .Mappng program from Google Earth, Basecamp ( from Garmin ), National Geographic, and so forth.

But what is cool about the Garmin unit ( maybe the Magellan as well ), that you can take a scan of the Map, calibrate the scan image, and place the calibrate map onto the gps. Once you get to the trail head that you can just follow along while hiking using or following a plan route on the gps...It is a great way gauge oneself...

hope it helps...
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Old 12-19-2012, 09:43 PM   #7
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I now use CalTopo at caltopo.com to put my gpx track file on a topo map, historic topo map, terrain map, whatever my needs are at the time.

It's a great free product.
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Old 12-25-2012, 01:10 PM   #8
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Making progress - but could use more help

Thanks all, and specifically Mike for the link to Caltopo. I borrowed a GPS (Garmin Etrex HCx) from a friend who wants help using it. I was able to record "tracks" and import them to Caltopo. It displays great on the screen while at the web site.

Other than capturing a "screen shot" I have been unable to save it with the hopes of importing it into a drawaing or photo editing program. I tried to export to Google Earth, but got lots of "watermarks" on the background maps. I need to manually add trail lines for a few spots I didn't walk with the GPS yet.

Any additional help on saving the tracks, and them being able to import into another program to mark-up and add text would be appreciated. Again - i'm trying to make a trail map of a new area to help a XC ski club.

Also - I viewed a You tube on the unit. I can set way-points (as well as tracks based on time or distance) but I can't figure out how to use the unit to "retrace my steps" sequentially. I can set it to find a specific waypoint (hard to know where it leads unless I add a text label to the default # when recording the waypoint - seems cumbersome). Is there a way to have it automatically go to the next prior way point once you arrive at one?

It doesn't seem obvious how it tells you to proceed a given distance in a certain direction to find a way point.

I don't want to give up on this - mostly because I have a friend anxious for help on using it. She is 22 down for the 46, and her navigator friend moved away. Many trail-less peaks remaining.

My own feeling right now is that it is great for finding out exactly where you are, then I'm good with a map & compass.
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Old 12-26-2012, 02:52 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob K View Post
Thanks all, and specifically Mike for the link to Caltopo. I borrowed a GPS (Garmin Etrex HCx) from a friend who wants help using it. I was able to record "tracks" and import them to Caltopo. It displays great on the screen while at the web site.

Other than capturing a "screen shot" I have been unable to save it with the hopes of importing it into a drawaing or photo editing program. I tried to export to Google Earth, but got lots of "watermarks" on the background maps. I need to manually add trail lines for a few spots I didn't walk with the GPS yet.

Any additional help on saving the tracks, and them being able to import into another program to mark-up and add text would be appreciated. Again - i'm trying to make a trail map of a new area to help a XC ski club.

Also - I viewed a You tube on the unit. I can set way-points (as well as tracks based on time or distance) but I can't figure out how to use the unit to "retrace my steps" sequentially. I can set it to find a specific waypoint (hard to know where it leads unless I add a text label to the default # when recording the waypoint - seems cumbersome). Is there a way to have it automatically go to the next prior way point once you arrive at one?

It doesn't seem obvious how it tells you to proceed a given distance in a certain direction to find a way point.

I don't want to give up on this - mostly because I have a friend anxious for help on using it. She is 22 down for the 46, and her navigator friend moved away. Many trail-less peaks remaining.

My own feeling right now is that it is great for finding out exactly where you are, then I'm good with a map & compass.
Not familiar with the particular gps you are using, but most gps's have a"track back" function, usually found in the tracks menu that allows you to retrace a saved track turn by turn,
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Old 12-27-2012, 01:04 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob K View Post
Any additional help on saving the tracks, and them being able to import into another program to mark-up and add text would be appreciated. Again - i'm trying to make a trail map of a new area to help a XC ski club.

Also - I viewed a You tube on the unit. I can set way-points (as well as tracks based on time or distance) but I can't figure out how to use the unit to "retrace my steps" sequentially. Is there a way to have it automatically go to the next prior way point once you arrive at one?


My own feeling right now is that it is great for finding out exactly where you are, then I'm good with a map & compass.
You can save receiver data (tracks, waypoints, etc) by either using Garmin's own BaseCamp / MapSource available at their support site OR using a (freeware) utility such as GPSBabel.

To 'backtrack' on Garmin units, you first need to save your active track in the receiver, then you can navigate the saved track. For details, check pg 24 of thier manual..

On a personal note, I find it easier to use my (main/goto) GPS unit (Magellan triton 400) as an electronic map rather than trying to navigate by it when in the woods. In open areas or on the water it's easier to follow the waypoints while in the dense forest cover (esp. spruce traps) or steep terrain it's often easier to pick your way by site and reference (sun, geo feature, compass etc).

To avoid 'watermarks' you can download free GeoTiff (calibrated image files) of USGS maps as well as various other ortho (satellite) and GIS data at the NY GIS Clearinghouse site.
You may also find ADK Regional GIS site of interest..
There are also a number of WMS sources which can be used with compatible GIS software but those are a bit higher on the learning curve.
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