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  1. #1
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    Best way to map a trail system?

    I'm starting to ride in a new area and I'd really like to put a trail map together for my own personal use - mostly to get my bearings so that I can start riding these trails without a large group in the relatively near future. I'm only using my iPhone for tracking right now, and I have several different apps that I could use including MotionX-GPS, MapMyRide and Mountainbike PRO. I've taken several individual traces (mostly in MayMyRide up until now), but I'd like to get all of those traces on a single map.

    I've never really put much effort into GPS tracks and map generation, so sorry if this is a basic question. I'm just hoping that someone can point me towards an easy way of doing this. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Give it a crank
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    You can drag-n-drop your gpx files into Google Earth to create a composite map of all your rides. Many other options too but that's a good start.

  3. #3
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    Openstreetmap.org

    You upload all of your gpx traces and then use the mapping feature to draw the trails over the top of your traces. There should be apps available that will then allow you to navigate this using your phone. You might even get lucky enough to find the area has already been mapped.

    I've been working on mapping out my local area since it's one of the few places near me that isn't. I found that I could harvest gpx traces from garmin.com that covered most of the trails. I'm slowly riding the rest of the trails myself.

    Good luck and let me know if you have any questions. You do need to create a log in on garmin to search out others traces. If you don't feel like signing up just to check it out, post a google maps link to the area and I'll look to see if anyone has been tracking in that area.

  4. #4
    Trail Tire TV on blogger
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    I've used the GPS/Map on Crankfire.com. It's basically a google map setup but he wrote some kinda code that take all GPS info in an area and averages them together so you can take a screen shot of the map page and print it out without a big mess where you go over the same place more than once.

    Crankfire.com is more based in CT/New England but the map works for everywhere...
    Going to try and bring Trail Tire TV back. go take a look... http://trailtiretv.blogspot.com/

  5. #5
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    Interesting...

    Thanks for the ideas - I'll look in to this more over the next couple days. Do sites like Crankfire.com or openstreetmap.org let you save the gpx tracks that you have uploaded?

  6. #6
    Trail Tire TV on blogger
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    Quote Originally Posted by TurnerConvert View Post
    Thanks for the ideas - I'll look in to this more over the next couple days. Do sites like Crankfire.com or openstreetmap.org let you save the gpx tracks that you have uploaded?
    crankfire does... allows you to download all GPX files that you and others upload..
    Going to try and bring Trail Tire TV back. go take a look... http://trailtiretv.blogspot.com/

  7. #7
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    openstreetmap.org saves the traces you upload, but the site's primary intention is to be used as a map with the traces being used as a reference to draw the map. The workflow is:
    - upload gps traces
    - enter "edit" mode
    - draw the trails over your gps traces while using visual landmarks in satellite view to correct for error.
    - save map

    If you're looking for something to operate as a repository for your rides and to search out other's gps data, I'd look into Strava, Garmin Connect & Endomondo in addition to what you're already using.

    If you're just looking to overlay all of your personal gps tracks, Mtn-Rider's suggestion of Google Earth is probably the easiest.

  8. #8
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    Topofusion

  9. #9
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    +1 for Topofusion. It does all of the things listed above, but it gives you more control over how averaging is done if you choose that option. If you choose to hand-sketch your "average", then it handles that well, also. You can save the outputs and it works with multiple file formats beyond .gpx so you have easier portability into other software packages (it even works with shapefiles so you can go straight to a true GIS if you want to make high quality printable maps or posters).

    However, keep in mind that if you have a very dense network of trails, typical GPS errors oftentimes mean that automated averaging procedures flat out won't work well. You'll get segments of trail that won't appear, tight turns will get cut off, intersections where there are none, and all manner of problems. In those cases, hand sketching is often the only solution to use that will provide a solid result. I recommend combining tracks with averaged waypoints. Say, average a waypoint over the course of a few minutes at the apex of a tight turn. That way, you know exactly where the apex of that turn is and you can "connect the dots" so to speak. I always put waypoints at intersections, also, since those are oftentimes the best location-finding spots on a trail. You want to make sure those intersections are accurately depicted. Some trail systems even label those intersections, and some still put marker posts throughout the system. Anything official like that would be a big help to mark a waypoint for as it will only help with your final map accuracy.

    None of the web tools are frankly good enough to handle this kind of work.

    My local trail system is currently the victim of terrible mapmaking. The maps at the trailheads are very well-done and accurate. I know the land managers agonized for more than a year before getting them officially printed. No, the terrible mapmaking has been perpetrated by a local organization that produces flyers with all the local trails on them. All of the paved MUTS are accurately depicted, but the mtb trails are just squiggles drawn on the page in Illustrator with no care taken to depict their accurate location.

  10. #10
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    Since I'm just starting, I think I'll start with one of the online sites. However, I did look at the topofusion website and the one question I had almost immediately is whether I would need the standard version of the software or the pro version. In the end I would probably prefer not to use a web-based tool - I'm not entirely sure on what the policy is with making maps of the trails available to the public for the area I've been riding, and I certainly don't want to be the one to go causing problems.

  11. #11
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    the pro version has all the features I described. I don't use the basic so I have no idea what's missing, but I know some features are.

    as for any "policy" on mapping the trails, if you have official permission to be there, you can make a map from them. if the trails are illegally constructed and they're not supposed to be there, you could get into some hot water if your map became public.

    if a local club maintains the trails and sells maps as a fundraiser, making your map publicly available could interfere with their fundraiser and piss them off. however, they cannot stop you from making the map for yourself from data you collected. if you used their map in some way to build yours (one example being to scan theirs and post it online for free), you might face more serious action.

    if you keep everything for your own use, you are completely fine (at least in the US and most western countries) for using your own GPS to map them.

  12. #12
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    Interestingly, I just tried OpenStreetMap using a gps track created using MapMyRide - it wouldn't import it. According to the e-mail, it needs a

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by TurnerConvert View Post
    Interestingly, I just tried OpenStreetMap using a gps track created using MapMyRide - it wouldn't import it. According to the e-mail, it needs a
    depends on how tightly different sites require you to adhere to the .gpx schema. stuff created using MMR's online tool is not intended to create files that are re-uploaded to another file sharing site/service so you've got yourself a crapshoot. It's entirely possible that you won't find a single website that can use that file. Topofusion will. Other good desktop mapping programs probably will, too.

    for this kind of thing, using a mobile phone is like shooting yourself in the foot unless you use some extras. for one, a fitness tracking app isn't really good intended to do what you're asking. there are better apps out there for this sort of thing, but it's very platform dependent. iOS is pretty barren. There's a little bit for Android. The bulk of mobile apps out there work on Windows Mobile. It might be surprising to you, but Windows Mobile has a long history of being the mobile OS of choice for high quality mapping software...likely because the Windows desktop OS shares that lineage with mapping software.

    The other problem is with accuracy. Fact is, for this kind of mapping, the onboard GPS chip in a basic phone isn't good enough. You really ought to use a bluetooth GPS puck and set it up as an external antenna. There's a discussion involving a Holux model on here that reviews it favorably.

    Do yourself a favor, download QGIS. The learning curve is steep if you don't know much about digital mapping. But, it's free so you can play with it without cost. I guarantee it'll load your oddball .gpx file from MMR. You will have to find your own basemap data to use with it, however, because it does not include any. Fortunately, a great deal of data is free.

  14. #14
    dblblack
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    Without taking anything away from the excellent ideas that you are getting from this thread, i would recommend you go back to the very first post by Mtn-Rider. I use Google Earth alot to as you stated, "get my bearings". I find it very usefull to be able to "fly around" using the tilt features to get a great idea of the "lay of the land". As you load each track/trace file into Google Earth, it will let you enable or disable any combo of those to see your rides displayed.
    Now the one issue that you may have is the file compatibility problem. One tool that I found a few years ago, and still use is the "GPS Babel" tool from GPSBabel: convert, upload, download data from GPS and Map programs. This is a download that resides on your local PC and will convert from almost any GPS format to another.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by dblblack View Post
    Without taking anything away from the excellent ideas that you are getting from this thread, i would recommend you go back to the very first post by Mtn-Rider. I use Google Earth alot to as you stated, "get my bearings". I find it very usefull to be able to "fly around" using the tilt features to get a great idea of the "lay of the land". As you load each track/trace file into Google Earth, it will let you enable or disable any combo of those to see your rides displayed.
    Now the one issue that you may have is the file compatibility problem. One tool that I found a few years ago, and still use is the "GPS Babel" tool from GPSBabel: convert, upload, download data from GPS and Map programs. This is a download that resides on your local PC and will convert from almost any GPS format to another.
    GPS Babel is a good tool. QGIS uses it for many file conversion purposes, too. GPS Visualizer (website) can handle many file conversions, too.

  16. #16
    Adventure Mapper
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    Qgis is a great way to go.
    I use arcgis at work and could make you a map if all you want is a static pdf.
    I make maps and ride a SS El Mariachi with a rigid Fargo fork:
    http://forgivenick.wordpress.com/

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