How-To: Download GPS Tracks and Waypoints from WIKILOC

This document will help you to download tracks and waypoints from the WIKILOC website. It should also help you with other hiking websites that allow downloading. Once the data is downloaded and loaded to your handheld GPS unit it can be used to follow the same route as the original hiker. FYI - GPS units store tracks as track "points". Track points are recorded at predetermined intervals (time, distance or both). Each track point contains all the data about that recorded spot (time, Lat/Lon and other stuff). To display a track "path", the track points are a linked together with a line (the line does not actually exist, it is just for display). So, during this writeup I will mention "track" or "track points", they are both the same. Every unit has a certain number of track points it can store, 10,000 being a common number. One problem is that many GPS units (Garmin I know of) allow only 500 track points to be loaded per segment (my 60cx for example). This is a major problem because the 500 track point limit causes large hikes to be truncated. If you download a hike with say 2000 track points and then try to load that to your GPS, you will only windup with the first 500 track points of the 2000 (thus you will only get the first 25% of the original hike). One way to get around this is to break the 2000 track points into 4 groups of 500 (called track segments). FYI - the problem with those Garmin units with 500 track point segment limit is that they have two areas where track points are stored -
  • Active Log Area - this is where the actual track points recorded by the GPS unit are stored - this area allows 10,000 track points to be stored (once the 10,000 limit is reached, recording either stops or it starts wrapping around (user setup)
  • Saved Log Area - This is where the unit saves tracks requested by the user (menu function). It allows multiple segments, but each segment can consist of no more than 500 track points, also no date/time data is stored with the track points
Now some people advocate that you load the downloaded hike in the "Active Log Area" (this is done by creating a "fake" Active Log) - if you do this you will pollute the area used by the GPS unit to store actual active tracks, so this is not recommended. As I stated earlier, what I recommend is to store downloaded tracks in the "Saved Log Area", using the segment feature of WIKILOC downloading. The WIKILOC download function has been modified to give you a number of options to handle track points, this was done so that all GPSs can handle downloads. The problem for you is to find out what your GPS can handle and select the correct option. Here are the options available - (note: these options only apply if the download contains more than 500 track points)
  • Original uploaded track points - select this if your unit has no problem with large track point files
  • Simplified track points - This option actually takes the big track point file and tries to compress it into 500 points. I do not recommend this selection, but it does work if your unit is restricted to 500 track points
  • Split into multiple segments - this option creates a bunch of small track point "segments" from the large track point file. I recommend this option if your unit is restricted to 500 point segments. The whole thing is given a unique Id, with each segment getting it's own unique number.
Here is a summary of the process using the software I recommend -
  • Download the tracks and waypoints as a GPX file from WIKILOC
  • Load the downloaded GPX file into "EasyGPS" program
  • Send/upload the tracks and waypoints to your GPS unit
You must always download the data using the "GPX" format. GPX format (GPS Exchange Format) is a data format for the interchange of GPS data (waypoints, routes, and tracks) between applications and Web services on the Internet. Most application dealing with GPSs recognize and know how to work with "GPX" formatted files. You really don’t need to know anything about the file format, just select to use it when given the option. Rather that explaining how to do it with each GPS vendors software, I will have you use a very good free package to handle the GPS loading. The program I recommend is "EasyGPS". If you do not have it already, go to this website, download and install it. EasyGPS’s website is http://www.easygps.com/default.asp One thing nice about EasyGPS, it will look to see if your unit can handle a load greater than 500 track points. Thus using EasyGPS, if I try and load a file with over 500 track points to my 60cx it will not allow it. I also recommend that you have a work folder on your computer to hold the downloaded GPX File - example name: Downloaded GPX Files The first time you use EasyGPS you will have to tell it what kind of GPS your are using. A setup screen will be presented to you when you first try to send data to your GPS, Downloading from WIKILOC -
  • Use Google Earth to find the hike you want to download or go to the Wikiloc website - you must get to the page with the "download" option - Screen Display (click on picture to enlarge)
  • Click on "Download" - select GPX file format, check that you want tracks split and check "include images" Screen Display (click on picture to enlarge) Note: You will only see the "Options" if the download contains more than 500 track points - if no options, just select "GPX" and continue
  • Click on "Download"
  • Now select the folder you setup to hold these files
  • Click on "Save"
Now when you are ready to load the data to your GPS - do this
  • Start EasyGPS
  • Select "Open" - from the menu or the toolbar
  • Find the GPX file which has the tracks split up (Example: Hal Scott Track Split File.GPX) and open it
  • You should now see the tracks map and also the waypoints listed on the left side Screen Display (click on picture to enlarge)
  • You can right-click on any waypoint to delete it if you feel you don’t want it (for example - there is a waypoint for a pine tree and you don’t want it)
  • Connect your GPS to your computer and turn it on (I normally make sure that my GPS is empty - reset it using menus)
  • Now select "Send" from the menu or the toolbar
  • A window should open with your GPS information in it (The first time you send data to your GPS you will have to define your GPS to EasyGPS)
  • Select "OK" - the data should now be loaded to your GPS
  • Disconnect your GPS from the computer
  • Exit out of EasyGPS
The tracks and waypoints should now be loaded to your GPS. Check to insure everything is OK. I normally go to my "Map" screen and look for the tracks - I have to zoom out to find the area. You also should use the waypoint "find" function to determine in the waypoints got loaded OK. To use the loaded data, see How-To: Using Downloaded Tracks and Waypoints

2 comments:

Dan Foster said...

Nice writeup, Tom. Thanks for mentioning EasyGPS!

ramblingkey said...

Hello Tom,
I've just moved to Florida after spending much of my years hiking over a thousand miles in NY/NJ/PA/CT and you have no idea how much of a godsend finding your trail posts on wikiloc and GE have been for me. Just want to send you a big shout out and thanks for putting the info out there,
Keith