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[John Muir Trail]Smart Phone GPS Apps with TOPO maps?

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  • Larry Beck
    Hi, I recently joined the 21st century and got a smart phone. It s an iPhone-5c. I have a Garmin Map60c GPS that I purchased back in 2006 and, the way I use
    Message 1 of 12 , Nov 1, 2013
      Hi,
      I recently joined the 21st century and got a smart phone. It's an iPhone-5c. I have a Garmin Map60c GPS that I purchased back in 2006 and, the way I use it is, I trace out a route on National Geographic Calif. TOPO maps and then I'd upload the waypoints to my Garmin.
       
      Are there any smart phone apps that provide TOPO maps with the ability to upload a trail to the phone and then track it with GPS similarly to the Garmin?
       
      Larry
    • dave.thofern
      I use two iPhone apps that provide offline topo maps--Motion X gps and Topo Maps. Both allow you to download free maps for use when you can t connect via wifi
      Message 2 of 12 , Nov 2, 2013

        I use two iPhone apps that provide offline topo maps--Motion X gps and Topo Maps. Both allow you to download free maps for use when you can't connect via wifi or cellular. Both also can import gpx files although due to Apple's requirement this isn't as easy as it could be. Getting maps downloaded onto the phone seems less intuitive than it could be but that might just be my own ineptness.


        Motion X provides features that you find on your Garmin Map60C such as track recording, elevation profiles, etc. Topo Maps lets you download actual USGS topo maps. I like this feature since I can have a printed USGS topo map and use the iPhone Topo app to confirm my location.


        I've read good reviews of an app called Gaia GPS with similar features but at $20 it's much more expensive.


        Be aware that running your iPhone using any app that accesses the phone's gps function will quickly deplete your battery. Unless I'm just out for a day hike, I will turn on the iPhone, and use the app to confirm my location and then turn it off. The gps apps will run in the background so you need to make sure to power down your phone or quit the app to make sure you aren't inadvertently running down your battery. A small arrowhead icon in the upper-right corner of the screen will appear whenever the gps is active.



        ---In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

        Hi,
        I recently joined the 21st century and got a smart phone. It's an iPhone-5c. I have a Garmin Map60c GPS that I purchased back in 2006 and, the way I use it is, I trace out a route on National Geographic Calif. TOPO maps and then I'd upload the waypoints to my Garmin.
         
        Are there any smart phone apps that provide TOPO maps with the ability to upload a trail to the phone and then track it with GPS similarly to the Garmin?
         
        Larry
      • Chip
        I bought Guthooks App for the JMT a few weeks ago. I met him at the ALDHA Gathering last month. He said this app is based on PCT data collected on the trail.
        Message 3 of 12 , Nov 3, 2013
          I bought Guthooks App for the JMT a few weeks ago. I met him at the ALDHA Gathering last month. He said this app is based on PCT data collected on the trail. Unfortunately I have not used it while hiking so I do not know how well it works in the field.

          The JMT is short enough that one map section is all that is needed. The PCT and AT apps are multiple sections and require numerous purchases.

          Hopefully I'll be able to give my opinion of this app on this forum.

          I also have Elisabeth Wenk's The essential guide to hiking America's most famous trail Kindle edition on my phone to cut weight.

          Chip
        • herbstroh
          Larry-- I use Gaia and really like it. It provides 5 layers of maps--USGS Topo, USGS Aerial, OpenCycleMap, OpenStreetMap and USFS. Being able to toggle between
          Message 4 of 12 , Nov 4, 2013
            Larry--

            I use Gaia and really like it. It provides 5 layers of maps--USGS Topo, USGS Aerial, OpenCycleMap, OpenStreetMap and USFS. Being able to toggle between topo and aerial is incredibly useful. Download the maps/area you are interested in while you have a good wifi and you do not need a data connection to view them or track your location. It is also very easy to import a route--create your route however you choose (I like Hillmap--multiple map layers for free) and email the GPX file to Gaia. It will immediately send back an email. Click the link and your route is downloaded. Two more clicks and it will automatically download all of the maps along your chosen route. Pretty sweet.

            You can track progress, view a map with your track, etc. It made my phone far more powerful and more user-friendly then my expensive single-purpose GPS units.

            Gaia does cost $20, so it is more expensive than most apps. I think the maps and ease of use warrant the price. I think they have a free version, but have not tried it.

            Note, however, that you do have to manage battery life when using a phone as a gps. See this site for some great tips on using a phone as a GPS device and how to save battery life: http://adventurealan.com/iphone4gps.htm

            Herb
            ------------

            Hi,
            I recently joined the 21st century and got a smart phone. It's an iPhone-5c. I have a Garmin Map60c GPS that I purchased back in 2006 and, the way I use it is, I trace out a route on National Geographic Calif. TOPO maps and then I'd upload the waypoints to my Garmin.
             
            Are there any smart phone apps that provide TOPO maps with the ability to upload a trail to the phone and then track it with GPS similarly to the Garmin?
             
            Larry
          • Larry Beck
            Thanks for the suggestion. I think I ll try out Gaia.. it sounds great. I ve had it suggested by three people now.   That s basically how I want to use it
            Message 5 of 12 , Nov 4, 2013
              Thanks for the suggestion. I think I'll try out Gaia.. it sounds great. I've had it suggested by three people now.
               
              That's basically how I want to use it too. I want to create a route on a regular PC then load it to the phone and track to it without requiring a connection. Normally I'll be keeping the phone off only occassionally turning it on to track the position. (like maybe once or twice a day).
               
              Larry
              From: "hstroh@..." <hstroh@...>
              To: johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Monday, November 4, 2013 8:49 AM
              Subject: RE: [John Muir Trail]Smart Phone GPS Apps with TOPO maps?
               
              Larry--

              I use Gaia and really like it. It provides 5 layers of maps--USGS Topo, USGS Aerial, OpenCycleMap, OpenStreetMap and USFS. Being able to toggle between topo and aerial is incredibly useful. Download the maps/area you are interested in while you have a good wifi and you do not need a data connection to view them or track your location. It is also very easy to import a route--create your route however you choose (I like Hillmap--multiple map layers for free) and email the GPX file to Gaia. It will immediately send back an email. Click the link and your route is downloaded. Two more clicks and it will automatically download all of the maps along your chosen route. Pretty sweet.

              You can track progress, view a map with your track, etc. It made my phone far more powerful and more user-friendly then my expensive single-purpose GPS units.

              Gaia does cost $20, so it is more expensive than most apps. I think the maps and ease of use warrant the price. I think they have a free version, but have not tried it.

              Note, however, that you do have to manage battery life when using a phone as a gps. See this site for some great tips on using a phone as a GPS device and how to save battery life: http://adventurealan.com/iphone4gps.htm
              Herb ------------
              Hi,
              I recently joined the 21st century and got a smart phone. It's an iPhone-5c. I have a Garmin Map60c GPS that I purchased back in 2006 and, the way I use it is, I trace out a route on National Geographic Calif. TOPO maps and then I'd upload the waypoints to my Garmin.
               
              Are there any smart phone apps that provide TOPO maps with the ability to upload a trail to the phone and then track it with GPS similarly to the Garmin?
               
              Larry
            • utahpiper
              Herb, When you say you email the GPX file to Gaia. It will immediately send back an email.. how does that work. I am using Gaia app that I bought, but
              Message 6 of 12 , Nov 5, 2013

                Herb,

                When you say you "email the GPX file to Gaia. It will immediately send back an email.." how does that work. I am using Gaia app that I bought, but without the 20bucks per year subscription. Does that matter?

                Thanks.  



                ---In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <becklaurence@...> wrote:

                Thanks for the suggestion. I think I'll try out Gaia.. it sounds great. I've had it suggested by three people now.
                 
                That's basically how I want to use it too. I want to create a route on a regular PC then load it to the phone and track to it without requiring a connection. Normally I'll be keeping the phone off only occassionally turning it on to track the position. (like maybe once or twice a day).
                 
                Larry
                From: "hstroh@..." <hstroh@...>
                To: johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com
                Sent: Monday, November 4, 2013 8:49 AM
                Subject: RE: [John Muir Trail]Smart Phone GPS Apps with TOPO maps?
                 
                Larry--

                I use Gaia and really like it. It provides 5 layers of maps--USGS Topo, USGS Aerial, OpenCycleMap, OpenStreetMap and USFS. Being able to toggle between topo and aerial is incredibly useful. Download the maps/area you are interested in while you have a good wifi and you do not need a data connection to view them or track your location. It is also very easy to import a route--create your route however you choose (I like Hillmap--multiple map layers for free) and email the GPX file to Gaia. It will immediately send back an email. Click the link and your route is downloaded. Two more clicks and it will automatically download all of the maps along your chosen route. Pretty sweet.

                You can track progress, view a map with your track, etc. It made my phone far more powerful and more user-friendly then my expensive single-purpose GPS units.

                Gaia does cost $20, so it is more expensive than most apps. I think the maps and ease of use warrant the price. I think they have a free version, but have not tried it.

                Note, however, that you do have to manage battery life when using a phone as a gps. See this site for some great tips on using a phone as a GPS device and how to save battery life: http://adventurealan.com/iphone4gps.htm
                Herb ------------
                Hi,
                I recently joined the 21st century and got a smart phone. It's an iPhone-5c. I have a Garmin Map60c GPS that I purchased back in 2006 and, the way I use it is, I trace out a route on National Geographic Calif. TOPO maps and then I'd upload the waypoints to my Garmin.
                 
                Are there any smart phone apps that provide TOPO maps with the ability to upload a trail to the phone and then track it with GPS similarly to the Garmin?
                 
                Larry
              • herbstroh
                Utahpiper-- I have not used the free version, so I don t know what functionality is missing from the paid subscription. The tutorial runs through the process,
                Message 7 of 12 , Nov 6, 2013

                  Utahpiper--


                  I have not used the free version, so I don't know what functionality is missing from the paid subscription. The tutorial runs through the process, and I believe they have youtube videos as well. But I create a GPX file on Hillmap and download it to my computer. Then attach it to an email, send to 'upload@...' . My subject line will be the title of the route.  In less than a minute I get a return email from Gaia. Open up the email and click the link to download the file into Gaia and it shows up in my 'tracks' screen. I am then given an option to download the maps for the route.


                  If you want to try and run the process, here is the map I created for a Happy Isles loop I did in September:

                  http://www.hillmap.com/m/ag1zfmhpbGxtYXAtaGRychELEghTYXZlZE1hcBi176YBDA

                  (I don't know if this will work as a hyperlink, you may have to paste it in). Once you open the map on Hillmap, click on the wrench-looking icon, and in the dropdown menu, click download GPX. Download to your computer, then email to the upload address as described above.

                  If the upload@... is not working for you, then it may be a limitation in the free version. That would make sense, because if you can do that you have one of the key features of the app.

                  I tend to use Gaia even for non-hiking navigational issues. My wife and I were walking along the canals in Oxnard, Ca., and I opened up Gaia to decide on a route back to the condo. She said "I wish there was a way to see this whole array of canals." So I switched to the satellite view and we could 'see' exactly where we were and the surrounding canals.

                  Herb

                  ---In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <utahpiper@...> wrote:

                  Herb,

                  When you say you "email the GPX file to Gaia. It will immediately send back an email.." how does that work. I am using Gaia app that I bought, but without the 20bucks per year subscription. Does that matter?

                  Thanks.  



                  ---In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <becklaurence@...> wrote:

                  Thanks for the suggestion. I think I'll try out Gaia.. it sounds great. I've had it suggested by three people now.
                   
                  That's basically how I want to use it too. I want to create a route on a regular PC then load it to the phone and track to it without requiring a connection. Normally I'll be keeping the phone off only occassionally turning it on to track the position. (like maybe once or twice a day).
                   
                  Larry
                  From: "hstroh@..." <hstroh@...>
                  To: johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com
                  Sent: Monday, November 4, 2013 8:49 AM
                  Subject: RE: [John Muir Trail]Smart Phone GPS Apps with TOPO maps?
                   
                  Larry--

                  I use Gaia and really like it. It provides 5 layers of maps--USGS Topo, USGS Aerial, OpenCycleMap, OpenStreetMap and USFS. Being able to toggle between topo and aerial is incredibly useful. Download the maps/area you are interested in while you have a good wifi and you do not need a data connection to view them or track your location. It is also very easy to import a route--create your route however you choose (I like Hillmap--multiple map layers for free) and email the GPX file to Gaia. It will immediately send back an email. Click the link and your route is downloaded. Two more clicks and it will automatically download all of the maps along your chosen route. Pretty sweet.

                  You can track progress, view a map with your track, etc. It made my phone far more powerful and more user-friendly then my expensive single-purpose GPS units.

                  Gaia does cost $20, so it is more expensive than most apps. I think the maps and ease of use warrant the price. I think they have a free version, but have not tried it.

                  Note, however, that you do have to manage battery life when using a phone as a gps. See this site for some great tips on using a phone as a GPS device and how to save battery life: http://adventurealan.com/iphone4gps.htm
                  Herb ------------
                  Hi,
                  I recently joined the 21st century and got a smart phone. It's an iPhone-5c. I have a Garmin Map60c GPS that I purchased back in 2006 and, the way I use it is, I trace out a route on National Geographic Calif. TOPO maps and then I'd upload the waypoints to my Garmin.
                   
                  Are there any smart phone apps that provide TOPO maps with the ability to upload a trail to the phone and then track it with GPS similarly to the Garmin?
                   
                  Larry
                • herbstroh
                  Utahpiper-- I see Yahoo kindly deleted the last part of the email address. After the at sign, is Gaia-dot-com Herb ... Utahpiper-- I have not used the free
                  Message 8 of 12 , Nov 6, 2013
                    Utahpiper--

                    I see Yahoo kindly deleted the last part of the email address. After the 'at' sign, is Gaia-dot-com

                    Herb

                     



                    ---In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <hstroh@...> wrote:

                    Utahpiper--


                    I have not used the free version, so I don't know what functionality is missing from the paid subscription. The tutorial runs through the process, and I believe they have youtube videos as well. But I create a GPX file on Hillmap and download it to my computer. Then attach it to an email, send to 'upload@...' . My subject line will be the title of the route.  In less than a minute I get a return email from Gaia. Open up the email and click the link to download the file into Gaia and it shows up in my 'tracks' screen. I am then given an option to download the maps for the route.


                    If you want to try and run the process, here is the map I created for a Happy Isles loop I did in September:

                    http://www.hillmap.com/m/ag1zfmhpbGxtYXAtaGRychELEghTYXZlZE1hcBi176YBDA

                    (I don't know if this will work as a hyperlink, you may have to paste it in). Once you open the map on Hillmap, click on the wrench-looking icon, and in the dropdown menu, click download GPX. Download to your computer, then email to the upload address as described above.

                    If the upload@... is not working for you, then it may be a limitation in the free version. That would make sense, because if you can do that you have one of the key features of the app.

                    I tend to use Gaia even for non-hiking navigational issues. My wife and I were walking along the canals in Oxnard, Ca., and I opened up Gaia to decide on a route back to the condo. She said "I wish there was a way to see this whole array of canals." So I switched to the satellite view and we could 'see' exactly where we were and the surrounding canals.

                    Herb

                    ---In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <utahpiper@...> wrote:

                    Herb,

                    When you say you "email the GPX file to Gaia. It will immediately send back an email.." how does that work. I am using Gaia app that I bought, but without the 20bucks per year subscription. Does that matter?

                    Thanks.  



                    ---In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <becklaurence@...> wrote:

                    Thanks for the suggestion. I think I'll try out Gaia.. it sounds great. I've had it suggested by three people now.
                     
                    That's basically how I want to use it too. I want to create a route on a regular PC then load it to the phone and track to it without requiring a connection. Normally I'll be keeping the phone off only occassionally turning it on to track the position. (like maybe once or twice a day).
                     
                    Larry
                    From: "hstroh@..." <hstroh@...>
                    To: johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com
                    Sent: Monday, November 4, 2013 8:49 AM
                    Subject: RE: [John Muir Trail]Smart Phone GPS Apps with TOPO maps?
                     
                    Larry--

                    I use Gaia and really like it. It provides 5 layers of maps--USGS Topo, USGS Aerial, OpenCycleMap, OpenStreetMap and USFS. Being able to toggle between topo and aerial is incredibly useful. Download the maps/area you are interested in while you have a good wifi and you do not need a data connection to view them or track your location. It is also very easy to import a route--create your route however you choose (I like Hillmap--multiple map layers for free) and email the GPX file to Gaia. It will immediately send back an email. Click the link and your route is downloaded. Two more clicks and it will automatically download all of the maps along your chosen route. Pretty sweet.

                    You can track progress, view a map with your track, etc. It made my phone far more powerful and more user-friendly then my expensive single-purpose GPS units.

                    Gaia does cost $20, so it is more expensive than most apps. I think the maps and ease of use warrant the price. I think they have a free version, but have not tried it.

                    Note, however, that you do have to manage battery life when using a phone as a gps. See this site for some great tips on using a phone as a GPS device and how to save battery life: http://adventurealan.com/iphone4gps.htm
                    Herb ------------
                    Hi,
                    I recently joined the 21st century and got a smart phone. It's an iPhone-5c. I have a Garmin Map60c GPS that I purchased back in 2006 and, the way I use it is, I trace out a route on National Geographic Calif. TOPO maps and then I'd upload the waypoints to my Garmin.
                     
                    Are there any smart phone apps that provide TOPO maps with the ability to upload a trail to the phone and then track it with GPS similarly to the Garmin?
                     
                    Larry
                  • David Thofern
                    Is the $20 cost of Gaia a one-time purchase or is this an annual subscription that must be renewed each year? Thanks, Dave
                    Message 9 of 12 , Nov 7, 2013
                      Is the $20 cost of Gaia a one-time purchase or is this an annual subscription that must be renewed each year?

                      Thanks,
                      Dave
                    • herbstroh
                      Sorry all, I have to update this once more. I was having trouble loading a track and contacted Gaia support. Got an email back in 15 minutes. The upload method
                      Message 10 of 12 , Nov 7, 2013

                        Sorry all, I have to update this once more. I was having trouble loading a track and contacted Gaia support. Got an email back in 15 minutes. The upload method I described is being "deprecated", which I guess is computer-speak for discontinued. But the new method is even easier--send an email of the file to yourself, click and hold the attachment and select "open in Gaia". The track loads immediately, and at that point you can name it and download the maps. You can also set up a cloud account and just drag your files into it and it will sync to all your devices.


                        You know it was not all that long ago we used to go to the sporting goods store and hope they had the 7.5 and 15 minutes paper maps we needed to navigate. Otherwise you had to mail away for them. Creating a "route" was drawing it in with a highlighter, figuring elevation gain required counting the lines you crossed, and calculating daily mileage was 'how many fat thumbs' were between point A and B.


                        Herb



                        ---In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <dthofern@...> wrote:

                        Is the $20 cost of Gaia a one-time purchase or is this an annual subscription that must be renewed each year?

                        Thanks,
                        Dave
                      • utahpiper
                        Dear Herb, Thank you, you have inspired me. I was mistaken, I actually had purchased (20 bucks) the Gaia gps app for iphone, so I don t know if they have a
                        Message 11 of 12 , Nov 7, 2013

                          Dear Herb,

                          Thank you, you have inspired me. I was mistaken, I actually had purchased (20 bucks) the Gaia gps app for iphone, so I don't know if they have a free version. I found that I can email some GPX files of routes (that I had generated on HillMap page and downloaded to desktop) to myself from my desktop, and when I open the attachment in email on my iPhone, it gives the option to open the attachment in Gaia GPS app! Gaia then opens it as a route, then gives the option to download the corresponding map tiles! So cool, best 20 bucks I've ever spent for a backpacking tool. 


                          The only small thing is that when Gaia opens the route file attachment, it changes the route name to "hillmaproute". One can then go into the edit mode and change the name back to something unique (I also put a descriptor in the comments section of the file, to make it easier to find/search).


                          Herb, I also wanted to thank you for sharing your Yosemite hike...It brought back many fond memories of some overlapping trails I hiked in the late 80's when I lived in CA.


                          So for others on the listserv who are interested, these steps worked for me:

                          1) plot route on hillmap.com

                          2) download GPX file to computer

                          3) email to GPX file attachment to yourself

                          4) open email on iPhone, select option to open GPX with Gaia GPS app

                          5) open route in Gaia, select download maps

                          6) to edit file name, select route and edit function (pencil next to route name); this opens the route on the map. There, select the info button (circled blue i in upper right corner). This lets you edit/delete any waypoints if you wish, but also lets you change the name of the route to something meaningful. Hit the circled i again to save.

                          7) have fun and don't get lost (unless you want to!)


                           



                          ---In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <dthofern@...> wrote:

                          Is the $20 cost of Gaia a one-time purchase or is this an annual subscription that must be renewed each year?

                          Thanks,
                          Dave
                        • forgetwho
                          You know it was not all that long ago we used to go to the sporting goods store and hope they had the 7.5 and 15 minutes paper maps we needed to navigate.
                          Message 12 of 12 , Nov 8, 2013

                             


                            "You know it was not all that long ago we used to go to the sporting goods store and hope they had the 7.5 and 15 minutes paper maps we needed to navigate. Otherwise you had to mail away for them. Creating a "route" was drawing it in with a highlighter, figuring elevation gain required counting the lines you crossed, and calculating daily mileage was 'how many fat thumbs' were between point A and B."


                            Um, some of us are still doing that :-)


                            Gail



                            ---In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <dthofern@...> wrote:

                            Is the $20 cost of Gaia a one-time purchase or is this an annual subscription that must be renewed each year?

                            Thanks,
                            Dave
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