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How to create a GPS Route from a Map

The purpose of this post is to describe the steps to design, define and create a GPS route as a file and import it to mobile applications and/or webs.


1. Find the route

The first step is to analyze the route you are going to take. You may need a scout phase before actually drawing the route.

Some webs with that may aid you:

2. Design the route

This step means to actually “outline” the route you are going to perform, once you have analyze previously the possible ways.

The simplest way is to take an screenshot of the image and use an image editor (e.g., Paint) to draw the route over it. Print the image to a paper and draw over it is another simple option.

Alternatively, you can some existing software to draw over the image.

Some webs that can aid you:


Google MyMaps

You can use the line function to design your route. Sometimes is not easy to modify an existing line, for example, it is not possible to add extra points in the middle of the line.
However, it is free and may be useful.


3. Convert the points into GPS coordinates

Some webs like the one listed on the first step can give you details about the coordinates of a given point just by clicking or right-clicking on a given point.

Different formats may be offered (latitude first, longitude second):

  • Degrees, minutes, and seconds (DMS): 41°24’12.2″N 2°10’26.5″E
  • Degrees and decimal minutes (DMM): 41 24.2028, 2 10.4418
  • Decimal degrees (DD): 41.40338, 2.17403

Most decimal formats work with the last one, decimal degrees (DD), so this is the one you have to take.

4. Export to GPS file format

The most common GPS file formats are:

  • GPX: the most popular.
  • KML: now a standard, it was popularized as it was the default format file for Google Earth. Google apps will suggest you to use this format.
  • TCX: less used that the other two.

Most software are compatible with GPX, and often KML.

In this tutorial we will work with GPX format.

You can note down your coordinates in this format, in different lines:



40.967031,-5.662987,0,starting point
40.969244,-5.660636,0,end point

Then use this web to convert from text to GPS file, for example, GPS Visualizer converter. If you use this tool, select “Waypoints” or “Route points” inside dropdown list”Force text data to be this type”.

GPS file will look like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" standalone="yes"?>
<gpx version="1.1" creator="GPS Visualizer" xmlns="" xmlns:xsi="" xsi:schemaLocation="">
<wpt lat="40.967031" lon="-5.662987">
  <name>starting point</name>
<wpt lat="40.969244" lon="-5.660636">
  <name>end point</name>

You can save the file in order to import it to other tools, like webs or mobile apps.

5. Preview your route

Webs to preview GPX route:

  • Google MyMaps: when you add a new layer in a map, you have the option to import a file. GPX files is a compatible format.
  • Strava GPX to route: it is a beta. It did not work when I tried; i tested the GPX example generated in the previous steps and also tried to enter a Strava activity. None of them worked.

6. Import route to your mobile phone

There are some apps that allow you to import routes as GPS files and then follow the route.

For example, GPXViewer is a free app that has this functionality.

7. Import route to a web

There are some webs that allow you to import these files, or even make your own directly from the app:

  • Strava: to create a route, you need to be a non-free subscription. More info here and here.
  • Polar Flow: More info about how to import a file here.

Also in this blog…

External references



About pmgallardo

I studied Computer Science at University of Salamanca. Since then, I have been working first as developer and then as SAP consutant. This blog is about problems I dealt when using computers, and more important, the solutions I found. Whenever I am on an issue and suddenlly I have a flash that leads me to a solution, I document my discoveries in a post.

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