Some weeks ago I posted about downloading GPS tracks from MotionBased.com for trip planning. For a long time now, I've been wanting to post other online sources of GPS data. Lets say you're planning a trip somewhere. Hiking, biking, fishing--it doesn't matter. Wouldn't it be nice to get waypoints and tracks from other GPS enthusiasts?
Some mapping software companies allow users to exchange data. Three notable examples are:
- National Geographic TOPO!'s mapXchange
- DeLorme's Topo USA 5.0 Trail Exchange
- The aforementioned MotionBased.com
The first two are proprietary formats, which can limit their usefulness unless you have that product. The National Geographic TOPO format turns up a lot on websites devoted to outdoor adventure.
MotionBased uses the open standard .gpx format, which is being embraced by more and more software manufacturers over time. An extensive list of online sources of .gpx data is available from TopoGrafix, the developer of EasyGPS and ExpertGPS. This list encompasses everything from dive spots to UK hiking trails. Travel by GPS, one of the sources on the list has a page posted on data I contributed--my Mt. Diablo circumnavigation. I haven't tried every source on the list, but GPXchange and TrailRegistry look particularly interesting.
There are plenty of other sources out there too. There is even a Yahoo GPS Tracks & Waypoints group devoted to data exchange. It's always a good idea to search on Google for (insert park name, etc.) and waypoints or GPX. And there are a blue million hiking, biking, kayaking, hunting, fishing, etc., discussion groups out there. Many message boards have regional sections. There are typically some tech-type gear heads there who can help you out with online sources or even their own data.
Winter is a great time for planning next year's adventures, and I hope these tools help!
Added 04.22.06 - GPS-Tour.info