Uploading a .GPX File into Google Maps

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    I showed a few people that you can upload a .GPX file to Google maps and use a phone for viewing at the FCT, so I wanted to share the process.

    Why do it? 

    Some people (myself included) like the visualization of Google maps for route planning.  Others may have GPS deficiencies (older units, out of date maps, no GPS, don’t want to learn basecamp/mapsource, etc.). Most of us have a smartphone in our pocket.  For me – I have an older Streetpilot 2820 that does not display tracks well.  I can get them to show up only if I upload them as I rename them properly, order them properly, and upload them as the active log.  And then they show up as a small dotted line.  Not so useful.


    I assume you have a PC – I am running windows 7 and using Google Chrome as a browser.  Probably works just the same many other OS and browser combinations.  I also assume you have a Google account set up, and if you are on android it’s the same one your phone is tied to.  If you are on an iPhone I assume you can still log into a google account and use google maps (I’m not a pro here, I’ve never had an iPhone.)  You CAN in fact do this on the run with only your phone (at least I can on my android on 4.4.4 KitKat but probably on any smartphone.) – I did it in Lewiston while at breakfast before the ADV ride.  I’ll show the process using the PC and then share some notes on just using your phone.

    Importing the .GPX on your PC

    1)      Download the .GPX file.  Find the link for the GPX file, download and save it locally (usually right click> “Save As”)

    2)      Open browser and go to google maps (maps.google.com)

    3)      Click on the 3 bar menu icon next to the search box

    4)       Select the icon titled “Your Places” – the menu will change.  If you have a programmed home, work, or other points on to your maps, these will show up here.

    5)      Select the tab labeled “Maps” Here you can create and select maps you made previously

    6)      Select “Create Map” at the bottom of the column.  This will open a new tab with a new map window that has more advanced features (Google calls this My Maps).

    7)      Select the text “Untitled Map” from the top of the menu column and rename the map to something meaningful.

    8)      Select “Import” under the layer.

    9)      Drag and Drop, or browse to the file to upload.

    Note: The map is automatically saved to your Google Drive account so there is no “save” button.  The layer will be named from the title of the .GPX File.  You can add more layers as desired (if you wanted to add more points on top of it, other GPX files, whatever).  All the tracks and waypoints will show up and can be colored or renamed if needed (default color import is blue for tracks).  Waypoint icon color can be changed, or different waypoint icons can be put in (There are a lot of waypoint icons to choose from).  Once you like it all, just close the tab – it’s already saved to Google Drive.

    Viewing the map on your phone:

    1)      Start Google Maps like you normally would

    2)      Select the 3 bar menu icon

    3)      Select “Your Places”

    4)      Select the “Maps Tab”

    5)      Find your map by title, and select it

    Tracks uploaded will not be turn by turn, but show up as static tracks.  As you ride you can manually follow the track.  All waypoints can be navigated to using normal google nav as needed.  I need to explore uploading routes a little more and can’t comment on how they come in.

    Offline Maps:

    Google supports Offline Maps for when you are deep in the wilderness and there is no data.  On your phone do the following:

    1)      Select the 3 bar menu in Google Maps

    2)      Select “Offline Maps”

    3)      Select “Select your own map”

    4)      Scale and move the map in the box to capture all the area you want offline maps for.  Note the size of the map file and keep in mind your phone storage space, and your data connection – you may want to consider doing this on Wifi if you have limited data.

    5)      Select “Download”

    6)      All done, if you lose data Google maps will just use your offline map.


    Importing a GPX just with your phone:

    The process of importing a GPX with only your phone is not much different than the PC process.  You’ll want to use a browser (like Chrome) on your phone to go to maps.google.com and once it loads, select the 3 dot menu and then “Request Desktop Site”.  You’ll need to do the same thing when you open the “My Maps” Tab.  It has all the same function, but since you are seeing a desktop site everything is really small.


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