Do you want to start doing longer adventure rides and explore new areas? How about hike a specific trail or mountain that is difficult to find? Maybe you want to go find a cabin in the middle of the desert that you spotted while playing around on Google Earth? GPS tracks will give you guidance that you need so you don’t get lost.
I use a Garmin 62s for navigating on and off the trail. Garmin has since updated the 62s to the Garmin 64s. I have it mounted to the handlebars of my KTM 690 motorcycle using RAM mounts. Yes, there are apps for your phone that can easily work offline without cel reception, but there are many reasons you want a rugged and dedicated GPS device that is quick and easy to use on the go.
If you are like me, you play around with Google Earth and scope out new areas that you want to visit. I usually pick a destination, then find what looks like small dirt roads or trails that connect me to them. GE has some pretty amazing imagery these days and you can even spot the difference between dirt roads and double track and even singletrack! So it’s time to create some tracks of your own and start a new ride, hike, or whatever adventure it is you want to do.
Drawing GPS tracks using Google Earth
Open Google Earth and navigate the map to an area where you want to create a track.Step 1: Under Places in the left column, you’re going to want to create a folder for your tracks project. Right click My Places and Add Folder. at the top of the toolbar.
Leave the Placemark window open after naming it, move it aside, and drag your Placemark where you want it go on the map. Then when you are done, name it and click OK.
Importing Google Earth Tracks Into Garmin BaseCamp
Garmin BaseCamp is a free mapping program that allows you to more thoroughly create and adjust your tracks before importing them into your Garmin device. It works similarly to Google Earth, but has more functions.Step 1: Right click My Collection, then click New List Folder and name it. This will be the name of your entire track file including tracks and waypoints. To demonstrate, I labeled mine “How to Create Tracks”. Your track folder will appear under My Collections.
In the lower left pane, right click your track, then click Filter Selected Track. You can choose how many the maximum points should be. I always go with 500 because that is the magic number that will work for all Garmins, new and old. My 62s is capable of many more, but if I want to share my tracks with my buddy who has a 60csx, he won’t be able to upload them until he filters them down to 500 points.
Google Earth, download it for free> https://www.google.com/earth/
Garmin BaseCamp, download it for free> http://www.garmin.com/en-US/shop/downloads/basecamp
Many websites such as GPSXChange offer free GPX files for download. A GPX file is basically the universal GPS file type. It easily imports into Google Earth or BaseCamp. This is an easy way of planning a trip and using your GPS with a track that has been explored before.
Question or comments?
Obviously this is a very quick overview of the most basic steps to creating a track. You have to start somewhere though. My best advice is to start with one simple track. Find something that is off the beaten path on Google Earth, create a track for it, upload it to your GPS device and go see if you can follow the track in the real world. Once you figure that part out, you’ll be ready to map out a multi-day adventure.
Still confused? Leave a reply below and I will be glad to help or answer any questions.