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Old 10-21-2018, 08:47 AM   #1
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Hiking trails and digital maps

I'm heading up to Alabama's Monte Sano State Park soon, and the park has a bunch of trails.

The trial map offered on the park's web site, though, is a bit primitive.

I'm trying to find a map I could download.

Alternatively, I could use AllTrails or another app. Nice, as they GPS you and you trod along, so you know where you are. I have no experience with these, however.

AllTrails looks usable, but ... you have to use the maps "live" if you use the free version. If you pay $30 a year (or $100 lifetime) AllTrials allows you to download the maps, so you are not relying on cell towers to help you out as you move through the woods (which may not be a problem at Monte Sano State Park, since Huntsville is 30 or so miles away).

Anyone have experience with digital trail maps?

Any recommendations?

I know Appalachian Trail hikers swear by the Guthook app, but I believe it has only the AT and maybe one or two other long trails.
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Old 10-21-2018, 10:50 AM   #2
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Not exactly trail maps, but I really, really love the PocketEarth app, which allows you to download cities, states, etc., and tracks your location in real time whether you have internet service or not.

I mark locations on the map before I go, then taking my phone with me means I always know exactly where I am.

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Old 10-21-2018, 01:58 PM   #3
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I used custom maps an Android app. It is a free download with no ads.

Before you go hiking you add a jpeg picture of the trails into the program (I normally find good readable pictures using Google image search). Then you select three points to match to google maps same locations aligned by you.

The program allows you to zoom in and also vary how transparent you trail map looks on top of the Google map. After the three points are setup you can preview the trail map on top of the Google map to verify you have coordinated those three points. Then you save your new trail map. Go hiking.


After doing ten or so trail I can setup an new trail map in about 5 minutes.
Here is one of a local island:
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Old 10-21-2018, 03:20 PM   #4
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We really like Gaia GPS. There is a free version but if you sign up for the paid version you can add multiple maps, download sections for when you are not in cellular range, etc. We like it because you can run it on a phone, tablet, or PC, lay down tracks, see how far you've gone, elevation gain, and save the tracks.

Although we often use it for trail hiking we also use it for boondocking. We load up the Private Lands map and the Public Lands map and then use it for finding out of the way BLM or Corp of Eng parcels that are scattered around,
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Old 10-22-2018, 06:59 AM   #5
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This is great info. Glad I asked!

Gaia GPS ... what does the paid version cost?
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Old 10-22-2018, 10:35 AM   #6
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Old 10-22-2018, 11:27 AM   #7
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Look at iHikeGPS. Stand alone application. Download topoquad maps. All the features of waypoints, real-time locations and ability to export lat/lon data and import as well. Print maps as well. Low power consumption. Many other features.
Our version is on Apple device
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Old 10-22-2018, 12:32 PM   #8
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Open Street Map

Also a PocketEarth user. While not specifically a Trail Map application, it is based on Open Street Maps which, in my experience, has quite a lot of park and trail info, even internationally. Was surprised to see detail like bike trails, rivers and power lines on the map while travelling in SE Asia.

As Lily&Me mentioned, it has offline maps, can track, save and export your route, and has topographic maps as an option.

However, probably the biggest selling point is being based on Open Street Maps, so you can add your own waypoints to the map. If you find a trail or other point of interest that you want to share with others, you can add it to the OSM map.

One caveat, at the moment it's iOS only...
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Old 10-22-2018, 12:44 PM   #9
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I've used All Trails for years. I download the trail before I leave WiFi and it shows me where I am on the trail even when out of cell service. I really like knowing the grade of the section of the trail I'm hiking. Used it when we lived back east sparingly, but now that we're hiking the Pacific Northwest it's a tremendous asset. Well worth the money. I set the filters I want for a hike (water, views, length of hike, out-and-back...) and have a list of hundreds of hikes to choose from.
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Old 10-22-2018, 02:14 PM   #10
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Have You Tried Avenza Maps?

I have used Avenza Maps for a number of years. It is not sophisticated, it simply displays where you are with a dot on nicely detailed maps. Under the covers, the maps are enhanced PDFs. Many maps are free, and those that aren't are a few dollars. It runs on Android, iOS, and browsers, and you license the maps in perpetuity. No subscription required. It runs offline on your phone, so no data package or signal required (except to download the maps.)

The BLM has a number of free maps. You can mark and label and attach photographs to points on the maps. Avenza has gotten me home a number of times as sometimes canyons and buttes begin to look the same when I get tired and ran/rode too far into the wilderness.

Avenza Maps has two maps that include Monte San State Park, one is free. You will have to determine if the pay map has more features you want. See https://www.avenzamaps.com/maps/search.html and enter Monte San into the search box.
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Old 10-22-2018, 08:34 PM   #11
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Avenza Maps ... I have the app, but I could not figure out how to download maps.

The web version looks easier to use.

I didn’t see any free maps for Monte Sano State Park, but I’ll try again. Thanks for the tip.
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Old 10-22-2018, 08:47 PM   #12
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AllTrails ... I’m looking at it, but the monthly fees would add up fast, The $100 lifetime charge might be OK, but I’d like to get an idea of how useful the app is before I start spending $$$.
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Old 10-22-2018, 10:36 PM   #13
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Ah, I remember the UI was initially confusing on my phone. (It's clearer on the web app.) Click on the "Store" icon in the lower right, then enter "Monte Sano" in the Search box. It should show maps around Huntsville with little map tags. Click on the one near Monte Sano and zom in. See attached screen shot.
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Old 10-23-2018, 05:01 AM   #14
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We find AllTrails to be great. The only downside is you have to remember to download hikes before you lose service. Each has to be loaded individually, I kind of wish they would allow you to download the trails for a given area or park.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WhereStream View Post
AllTrails ... Im looking at it, but the monthly fees would add up fast, The $100 lifetime charge might be OK, but Id like to get an idea of how useful the app is before I start spending $$$.
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