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GPS for mapping trails

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
There is a network of abandoned Forest Service roads, Forest service trails and biker created trails in the mountains outside Bozeman.  The problem is nobody really has a good overview of where many of them are and where they lead.

Over the past few summers I've been exploring them when I have time.  Most end up dead ends but I occasionally find trails the connect to other trails I am familiar with or are worth taking alone.  While I'm getting a good knowledge of the trails it is hard to pass it on to others.

My friends & I are thinking of getting GPSes so I can map the trails and pass them on.  Anyone have any suggestions of GPSes to use for mapping the path you took so you can give it to others?
post #2 of 22
 I'm a newb to this, but am using a Garmin 60Cs. They only just came out with mapping software for Mac, so I'm a little behind on the map making part.

Start here - http://www.imba.com/resources/maps/index.html
post #3 of 22
So, you like this one (60Cs) pretty well? Can it be mounted to a bike? I have a buddy that has a either an Garmin Edge 205 or 305. I'm not sure which. I have been looking at the Edge series for cycling. I'm put off by the cost though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by epic View Post

 I'm a newb to this, but am using a Garmin 60Cs. They only just came out with mapping software for Mac, so I'm a little behind on the map making part.

Start here - http://www.imba.com/resources/maps/index.html
 
post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 
I probably don't need the ability to transfer my routes to mapping software....too much work.  What I do need is the ability to mark points on a route where you have to make a decision on which direction to go so I can reference them later.  Being able to transfer an entire route to another GPS would be great, also, but not as necessary as being able to record key coordinates on the route.
post #5 of 22
http://www.gpsvisualizer.com/ is a free service that will overlay your recorded GPS tracks onto various background maps or aerial photos.  Its very easy to use, and sounds like it might be just what you need.


I use the basic version (free) of a program called TrackMaker (www.gpstm.com) to upload the tracks from the GPS memory to my computer.  It will let you delete extraneous points, if you like, before using gpsvisualizer.  I experimented with different tools, and this seemed to be the easiest to use.
post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 
mdf -

Which GPS do you use?
post #7 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnnys Zoo View Post

So, you like this one (60Cs) pretty well? Can it be mounted to a bike? I have a buddy that has a either an Garmin Edge 205 or 305. I'm not sure which. I have been looking at the Edge series for cycling. I'm put off by the cost though.
 


 

I think there is a handlebar mount, but I just put it in my camelbak or pocket. One of the things I like about it vs. others I've had is that it has better antennas and keeps working under cover. I've had others that went blank for long periods.
post #8 of 22
Well, I'm not sure what I have is necessarily the best.  For years I had a Garmin gecko 301 that I loved (small, good recording capabiliity) but it died.  I replaced it  with a etrex vista which is better in some ways but worse in others.  I was in a hurry, and it was on clearance sale, so I did not do extensive research before buying it.  Its good enough for me -- I mostly use it as a toy to record ski days and windsurfing speeds (The new one can get reception where the old one couldn't, but is larger and has a misfeature in how it records tracks -- you hahave to keep them in working memory, cause saving strips some info.)  My gps is considered more or less obolete, I think, and was when I bought it... which i s probably why it was on sale. 

(I also got a car-specific unit as a gift -- much better than trying to drive with a trail-oriented GPS.)
post #9 of 22
Besides GPS visualizer, I've mapped a bread-crumb trail on my Garmin GPSMAP 76 CS and uploaded it to my computer and the included Mapsource software, where I was able to see the trail with Google Earth satellite pics superimposed.    Worked pretty well.
post #10 of 22
Here's today's ride from GoogleEarth:
 
post #11 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by epic View Post




I think there is a handlebar mount, but I just put it in my camelbak or pocket. One of the things I like about it vs. others I've had is that it has better antennas and keeps working under cover. I've had others that went blank for long periods.

Epic,

Is it the original 60CS or the newer 60CSx (in other words, does it take memory cards or not?) The 60CS loses satellites easily around cliffs and high buildings, but is otherwise a very reliable unit with an excellent helix antenna. The CSx was upgraded with the SIRFstar III chipset and handles the situations where the CS drops out better.

The Legend/Vista eTrex HCx are amazing at tracking satellites, even indoors. More compact, take less space on the handlebars - I like the controls, but then I've been an eTrexer for ages. Biggest complaint on the geocaching forums has been the accuracy of the odometer at low speeds, but the newest firmware seems to have mostly fixed this.
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Squawker View Post
The Legend/Vista eTrex HCx are amazing at tracking satellites, even indoors. More compact, take less space on the handlebars - I like the controls, but then I've been an eTrexer for ages. Biggest complaint on the geocaching forums has been the accuracy of the odometer at low speeds, but the newest firmware seems to have mostly fixed this.


 


I have used the Legend HCx several times hiking. I turned it on and left it in the top pouch of my backback. It did a pretty good job, but understandably did suffer from drop outs under heavy tree cover, but overall gave the information I needed.
post #13 of 22

I've used a $99 wrist mounted Garmin Foretrex 101 for mapping XC ski trails and printed them with the free software GPS utility.  It worked great for mapping our trail system in Fernie for our handout maps

I've been too lazy and inept to do fancier stuff.  

Here's a question though:  There is a wonderful website for a 2000 km mountain bike route looping around Andalucia, Spain. 
http://www.transandalus.org/

They have complete files in Oziexplorer format on the website

 

http://www.transandalus.org/andalucia/granada/TAGRNorte.plt

What GPS would allow me to upload the whole route, purchase map coverage of Spain, and mount on a bike for a trip?

post #14 of 22
I forgot to mention that gpstrackmaker has an option to save tracks as google-earth files and then view them in Google Earth.  Here is a screen capture from a day's skiing at Jackson Hole.  The Alta Chutes are in the foreground and the track in the background goes through Bivouac Woods. 
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Squawker View Post




Epic,

Is it the original 60CS or the newer 60CSx (in other words, does it take memory cards or not?) The 60CS loses satellites easily around cliffs and high buildings, but is otherwise a very reliable unit with an excellent helix antenna. The CSx was upgraded with the SIRFstar III chipset and handles the situations where the CS drops out better.

The Legend/Vista eTrex HCx are amazing at tracking satellites, even indoors. More compact, take less space on the handlebars - I like the controls, but then I've been an eTrexer for ages. Biggest complaint on the geocaching forums has been the accuracy of the odometer at low speeds, but the newest firmware seems to have mostly fixed this.


 

It says 60Cs on the box, but it does take memory cards. My old unit was an eTrex Vista, the 60 Cs tracks satellites much, much better, the eTrex was nearly useless (and ate batteries way too fast as well).
post #16 of 22
post #17 of 22

Thanks for the link Epic, but you know, that article doesn't say anything.
 


Quote:

"Some other things to consider when shopping for a GPS device include battery life, whether or not it can be used for driving and how durable the mounting hardware is.

Out of the dozen or more GPS devices currently on the market, a few rise above to meet the demands of off-road riders."



Ok, I can imagine that, but it doesn't give any answers, test any mounting systems, or tell us which ones rise above.  No wonder we all post and read here---bears actually use this stuff

 

post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by epic View Post




It says 60Cs on the box, but it does take memory cards. My old unit was an eTrex Vista, the 60 Cs tracks satellites much, much better, the eTrex was nearly useless (and ate batteries way too fast as well).

That's a CSx then   Lovely piece of kit. Your Vista was probably the same generation as my old eTrex Legend - that used to drop satellites a lot, especially in the top of my pack when biking. Spent ages stitching all the little bits of trail back together. And with the RS-232 serial cable map transfer was really painful, even though the Legend only had 8MB for maps.

The electronic compass and barometric altimeter used to really eat the batteries on those Vistas. The Legend had neither, and had pretty decent battery life.
post #19 of 22
Thread Starter 
Anyone have experience with the newer Vista Hcx & Legend Hcx?  The Vista is $10 to $15 more online.  The ability to map altitude gains and losses (which the Vista has) would be a nice feature but not at the expense of the batteries.  Our rides sometimes take 4 to 5 hours (we're not the faster climbers in the area) so I would want to make sure the batteries would last.
post #20 of 22
Mine is actually the Vista HCx.  The high gain versions really do get signal when older units won't.  Batteries will last a day, for sure.  My issue with it is I suspect it doesn't really turn off -- I've had days when I could swear there were bars left on the battery meter at the end of the day, but it was dead the next morning.  I've taken to removing the batteries, though I worry I will wear out the water-proof gasket.

The other annoyance is track log saving.  If you upload the current log, you get all the info.  But if you "save" the track to internal memory, some of the info gets stripped off.  I forget exactly which, might be the speed or the altitude.

Overall, I am reasonably happy with it, but I'm not in love with it.
post #21 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdf View Post

I forgot to mention that gpstrackmaker has an option to save tracks as google-earth files and then view them in Google Earth.  Here is a screen capture from a day's skiing at Jackson Hole.  The Alta Chutes are in the foreground and the track in the background goes through Bivouac Woods. 

This looks pretty cool. I'm using Sportypal freeride and sometines openstreetmap.org from where i export the files.
post #22 of 22
Not pretty, but here's the track from the Legend Cx for a hike up Tuckerman's Ravine Trail and "down" Boott Spur at Pinkham Notch NH. I probably had the frequency of points too high for the rate at which we were moving. I left it in the top of my back pack and few, if any drop outs, the batteries were fine in mid to high 30 degree range and the entire track over 5-1/4 hours took up 45% of the available storage. The picture came from Garmin Mapsource to Google Earth KMZ file.

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