What can you do with GPX tracks/routes? A Brief Introduction
The prime reason for providing tracks/routes is to let you transfer them to a computer or phone App to show it on a map for interest or to plan a walk.
If you look at the Mapping section of this site, it will (soon) explain explicitly how to use these tracks/routes in some smartphones or computer mapping systems.
This section is intended as a bit of an background to what tracks/route GPX's are and how to handle them.
But firstly, just for some basic understanding:-
- a "Track" is a record of an actual route that was recorded during a real walk so is (or was) physically possible.
- a "Route" is a planned route for a walk. It may not be physically possible or even exist.
- a "GPX file" is a file that contains the details of a track or route.
A GPX file for a track/route contains a list of "points"(called "Waypoints") making up the track/route.
There is no need to understand the details of this, computer programs or smartphone Apps will deal with that.
If you have no interest in the details of such files, just skip down to "Downloading GPX Files".
But for those who "like to know":-
If you open a track or route file as text (e.g. "Open With Notepad") you will find a list of lines like these:-
<trkpt lat="54.217197" lon="-2.373643"><ele>390.0</ele><time>2008-09-10T09:28:38Z</time></trkpt>
<trkpt lat="54.217614" lon="-2.373593"><ele>391.0</ele><time>2008-09-10T09:29:06Z</time></trkpt>
which are simply the (lat)itude and (lon)gitude of a location, it's (ele)vation, and (in the case of tracks) the time it was recorded.
There is some other more complicated lines at the front but those are just for computer programs.
If you would like to look at the contents of a full file, download one of the tracks and on your computer, right click the file and select "Open With", and select Notepad.
"Downloading GPX Files".
If you click on any of the names of the tracks/routes in the GPX Collection, it will open a new page showing the track on a google map.
Read the information on the page to have a look at the height profile of the route.
This map is one of the best ways to explore a GPX file.
Look at the various options shown by the arrows.
Look for "Download GPX for this Route HERE" and click the HERE to download the GPX file.
Different forms of Windows or Mac show downloads in different ways that are beyond detailing here.
Once downloaded, if you have a smartphone mapping app you can send the file to your smartphone or tablet by bluetooth or cable or a USB.
You can also view the GPX file as a track/route on the computer using either Google Earth, or GPSvisuliser.
To use Google Earth:-
-Open Google Earth (you have to download it if you haven't done so).
-Click on "Open"
-Click the File Type box and select "GPS...."
-Then file and select a gpx file and Click "Open".
-A dialog box will open it is important to tick the "Create KML linestrings" or only "points" will be shown.
The route will then be displayed and can be explored.
Often it is possible to have a sense of how viable or well used a path is.
To use GPSvisuliser:-
This is a web site that accepts GPX files and displays them on a variety of free to use maps.
As long as you respect and show the copyright it appears you may print the map.
(not really suitable for use to guide you around a walk, just an aid.)
Open this web site http://www.gpsvisualizer.com/map_input
-Look for the "Upload your GPX files here" section, middle right of the site.
-Click on "Choose a File" and select a GPX file, then click "Open".
-Then CLick on "Draw the Map".
With the map showing, there is a box at the top right which lets different types of map to be displayed.