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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 520 now. I just seen you can download Trailforks app for it.

Has anyone used it on 520 or another Garmin?

Tired of going to new trails, looking at paper map, pulling phone out etc (AND still getting turned around)

Is there a newer Garmin that would be better than 520? I guess buttons are good? Touchscreen bad?
 

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I lay out rides in advance on my computer on RWGPS using info from TrailForks, MTB Project, controlling agencies' websites (Forrest Service, State Park authority, County/City/State gov, etc.), satellite views, street view (where applicable) etc then download that course to my Garmin. If you have Garmin (or OSM) maps, they already have most all trails on them. You can do this with a 520.

I haven't found on-board route planning features on Garmins to be useful for my purposes. If I'm out on a trail and need to stop and figure out the lay of the land, I whip out the phone. I use the OSM And app which downloads map data so you don't need a cell connection for it to work out in the boonies.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Sounds like you need to work on nav skills. With any halfway decent map, I can figure out where I am.

No Garmin is going to fix that for you.
I see your point.

It's the trail short cuts and having to stop every quarter mile or so and look at map thats my demise.

Bigger (longer) trail the easier to navigate for me (less stopping).

No problem navigating with LBS maps at Bend & DuPont.

Home trails Palos, IL, no trail short cuts from trail to trail.

Not sure why a Garmin wouldn't tell me to turn left or right at trail intersection. It appears to be working for others.
 

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I see your point.

It's the trail short cuts and having to stop every quarter mile or so and look at map thats my demise.

Bigger (longer) trail the easier to navigate for me (less stopping).

No problem navigating with LBS maps at Bend & DuPont.

Home trails Palos, IL, no trail short cuts from trail to trail.

Not sure why a Garmin wouldn't tell me to turn left or right at trail intersection. It appears to be working for others.
This has been covered in other posts, but I'll attempt to clarify.

You get a few sources of mapping data for trails. Topo maps from the USGS, a drawn map from a bike club that built the trails, or a GPS track from others who've ridden the trail and uploaded to a map database such as Strava or TrailForks, as examples.

The on-line resources such as Google Maps are typically not helpful as they tend to not "know" where trails are located and Google as example, isn't transferring topo data (which tends to be out-of date anyway) nor are they following the heat maps of Strava.

Likely the most recent and up to date mapping data for a trail system is going to based on actual ridden routes from somebody using a GPS device and uploaded to TrailForks or something similar and even then it may be incomplete currently as not every trail might have been ridden and logged.

Thus and unlike a route being ridden on the road where EVERY street has been logged by Google or Garmin's sources, a trail system may have a lot of side trails, cut-off's, bye passes, etc.... that are not shown on a GPS database.

On the road and when following a pre-planned route, the device has EVERY road in the map data base in the unit (for a region), knows the route it's supposed to follow and subsequently will know if you've gone off course onto a different road and are off course, but can also give you turn-by-turn directions.

When off-road, the trails you've chosen on a pre-planned ride may well be present in the map database, but probably will not be named, so the device can't tell you "Turn right on Spiders Web", etc.... or the original track doesn't show that you need to stay right at an un-named trail junction, because that junction doesn't exist in the database.

It will get better in time as more people ride every possible trail and upload those tracks to a database. Right now it's hit and miss, especially in trail systems where there's a rats maze of trails every 50 ft. or so, like where I ride at Bethpage State Park on Long Island. If the trail is essentially really long point to point, likely the database GPS generated maps will show you what you need.
 

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It depends on what size screen you want. The new units come with the Trailforks base map built in to them but the screens are small. If you want a larger screen and don’t want to pay for the top of the line expensive unit you can get and edge explore and download the trailforks basemap for your area and install it.
 

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Not sure why a Garmin wouldn't tell me to turn left or right at trail intersection. It appears to be working for others.
That works...sorta.

There are a whole lot of caveats to this. As Catmandoo mentioned, part of it depends on the completeness of the trail database. As it stands now, and I don't see this changing anytime soon, no single source has all of the trails on it.

You mentioned DuPont, which is an interesting case. The place is BUSY. It's very well-mapped and well-signed. For most of my rides there, I don't even need a map anymore. The only time I need to pull the map out is when I'm specifically seeking out a route that's new to me. DuPont differs from, say, Pisgah. Trailforks generally has solid coverage in Pisgah. And of course Pisgah Map Co publishes some excellent maps, both paper and digital. But here's a big kicker - there are quite a few social trails that hikers have burned in, TONS of old logging roads, and a fair few bandit mtb trails that won't appear on ANY map.

So back to the Garmin - the device can only tell you what it's programmed to do. So let's say you've got an incomplete trail map. Your Garmin won't be able to tell you very much at a confusing intersection between a legit trail and some trails that don't appear on the map. It'll appear as though there is no intersection at all, and if the intersection occurs at a confusing curve in the trail, then you have to rely on something OTHER than the GPS to find your way.

Then there's the level of accuracy that trails are mapped in. Road databases are generally mapped with fairly high accuracy. For that matter, road GPSes and road nav apps have a "snapping" function that works in the background and tells the computer, more or less, that in spite of any inaccuracies in the GPS, the computer should assume that you're ON the nearest road. Your bike GPS won't do that.

If you program your GPS to follow a pre-programmed route, and you do a ton of work prior to your ride and add turn notifications at confusing intersections to get it to navigate you on trails the way it would on the road, you're going to get a TON of "off-course" notifications because the computer is going to take the GPS location quite literally. This can be pretty problematic if you're being heavily reliant on this planned route for navigation. It happens because the computer takes the GPS position literally and won't assume you're on the trail. Part of this is dependent on the accuracy of your planned route. Part of it will be dependent on the accuracy of your computer at that moment in time COMPARED TO the planned route.

I've used this kind of navigation on many occasions before. It works absolutely brilliantly on the road. You can even get street names programmed into the turn notifications on pretty basic devices with no maps loaded. I've planned out road rides up to 100mi long this way. It "works" on the trail, but it's far from brilliant. The near-constant "off course" warnings really detract from the whole thing.

I've found that the best trail nav functionality of most Garmins is simply showing your position on a topo map with the trail network overlaid onto it, realizing that whatever your source for the trail network data, it's going to be incomplete. You can overlay a planned route onto that without any notifications whatsoever, too. Trying to get more out of it is going to make you too reliant on the device and it's going to burn you at some point. It's just a matter of when. Which means that regardless of what computer you use, you need to have a solid navigation skillset. The farther "out there" you go, the more robust that skillset needs to be. On top of that, I try to keep redundant navigation tools on hand the farther "out there" I go. To that end, my Garmin is my primary "show me where I am" tool because its battery life is the longest and the full mapset stored on it is available without cellular reception. My cell phone is my backup, with multiple mapping apps available. It allows me to cross reference multiple trail databases (different than what's on my Garmin) in the event that I encounter incomplete trail data in a confusing location. And my backup backup, and primary tool for planning purposes is a paper map. The paper map works infinitely better for planning because it's so much bigger than a tiny screen, it can be drawn on, and a whole group can gather around it and see it. It's a little more ungainly to use on the trail, but it doesn't have batteries at all.

What I have/use depends on where I go. For a small, local loop, I probably won't use any of them for navigation. For a long, backcountry epic, I'll probably carry AND use every single one of them at some point.

Of course, none of them are really worth a damn if my skills at reading them are poor, or I'm unable to read the terrain. I've had more experience than many with off-trail backcountry navigation in different environments. Some of that was before digital maps were even a thing. I've worked off of USGS topo quads, and photocopied pieces of USGS topo quads that are missing critical reference info in the margins. I've been using GPS since before selective availability was turned off and consumer GPS was basically a novelty. I've used $100 GPS receivers and $10,000 GPS receivers. I was once even escorted into the woods (thick forest on flat terrain in the east, where there's very little terrain reference for location), purposely disoriented, then told to find my way back to the starting point with just a compass as a test.

And still, I've been turned around and lost in the backcountry. Usually, exhaustion/sleep deprivation has been a factor in that, hindering my ability to read things correctly. Going out mountain biking in an unfamiliar place is GOING to involve stopping and wayfinding. That's part of it. I get a little tired of the posts in this forum from people who don't like stopping to check their maps and they want a device to do that for them. Sorry, but while that MIGHT work in some places at some times, there are others where it simply won't work the way you want and being over-reliant on that help will get you into trouble.

1. Be as familiar as you can with the limitations of your equipment
2. If you want to explore, build your backcountry navigation skills
3. If you want to ride somewhere new at a high pace without stopping, then hire a guide or find a local to tag along with (maybe a group ride) who's willing and able to ride the way you want.
4. Otherwise, save the high pace no-stopping rides for local trails on which you're very familiar and don't need a map to navigate.
 

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I was getting frustrated with planning and navigating with my 530. I discovered routeCourse a few days ago. It's fantastic! To me, it's the functionality that Garmin should have built-in.

The integration of the Garmin app, phone/tablet, and desktop/laptop is very well thought out. Not only should it enhance planning, but navigation, too.

https://dynamicwatch.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/sections/360000425011-routeCourse
 

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I've found that the best trail nav functionality of most Garmins is simply showing your position on a topo map with the trail network overlaid onto it, realizing that whatever your source for the trail network data, it's going to be incomplete. You can overlay a planned route onto that without any notifications whatsoever, too. Trying to get more out of it is going to make you too reliant on the device and it's going to burn you at some point. It's just a matter of when. Which means that regardless of what computer you use, you need to have a solid navigation skillset. The farther "out there" you go, the more robust that skillset needs to be. On top of that, I try to keep redundant navigation tools on hand the farther "out there" I go. To that end, my Garmin is my primary "show me where I am" tool because its battery life is the longest and the full mapset stored on it is available without cellular reception. My cell phone is my backup, with multiple mapping apps available. It allows me to cross reference multiple trail databases (different than what's on my Garmin) in the event that I encounter incomplete trail data in a confusing location. And my backup backup, and primary tool for planning purposes is a paper map. The paper map works infinitely better for planning because it's so much bigger than a tiny screen, it can be drawn on, and a whole group can gather around it and see it. It's a little more ungainly to use on the trail, but it doesn't have batteries at all.
That's a good idea, to simply have the map display you're route but not navigate it. How is this done on an Edge 530, etc? Can i import the TrailForks route via ConnectIQ and then simply display it as a highlighted route?
 

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To display the course without navigating it on an 820, I select Nav, Courses, Saved Courses, the course, Settings, Always Display. The course will then always be visible on the map until you go back in and de-select Always Display. The setting persists through powering the unit on and off.
 

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To display the course without navigating it on an 820, I select Nav, Courses, Saved Courses, the course, Settings, Always Display. The course will then always be visible on the map until you go back in and de-select Always Display. The setting persists through powering the unit on and off.
I upload strava segments in the area I'm riding as courses rather than rides (using garmin Basecamp where I store all my downhill trail segments), I use osm maps so the fireroad/climbs etc are already there I just want the off piste stuff and can ride them in any order I want. As above I set the course/segment to always display and give it a bold colour.
 

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That's a good idea, to simply have the map display you're route but not navigate it. How is this done on an Edge 530, etc? Can i import the TrailForks route via ConnectIQ and then simply display it as a highlighted route?
If you haven't figured this our already...

Yes draw a route in Trailforks and submit it for approval. When approved, view it in Trailforks.com, and on the top right of the map, you'll see a 'Save/wishlist" button. Click that, and you can either save it to your Trailsforks app on the Garmin device, or on your wishlist, or both.

Then power up your Edge and Garmin Connect mobile and ensure the app is paired with the device. Then on the device, select IQ -> Trailforks -> My Routes -> select the route you just created -> Download.

Or you can download the GPX file from Trailsforks and upload it to your Garmin Connect web. The next time you sync your device with the app, it'll be on your device.
 

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I was getting frustrated with planning and navigating with my 530. I discovered routeCourse a few days ago. It's fantastic! To me, it's the functionality that Garmin should have built-in.

The integration of the Garmin app, phone/tablet, and desktop/laptop is very well thought out. Not only should it enhance planning, but navigation, too.

https://dynamicwatch.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/sections/360000425011-routeCourse
For an MTB trail, does it give your turn-by-turn directions?
 

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For an MTB trail, does it give your turn-by-turn directions?
I looked at the document in that link and there were a couple mentions about it. Sounds like if you planned out the course in a service that includes cue sheet functionality (like RideWithGPS), then you'll get those cues on your Garmin if you want them.

I have used RideWithGPS to plan out mtb courses in the past and have found them a mixed bag. The problem is with "off course" warnings and with accuracy. So, a combination of the accuracy of your planned course and the accuracy of the device (sometimes it's only one of these sources, other times it's both, but it's kinda impossible to predict) results in the Garmin beeping for "Off Course" warnings FREQUENTLY. I honestly wish that Garmin had an adjustable threshold value for those warnings. That alone would make the functionality of Courses on mtb routes WAY more useful. The turn warnings absolutely work, though. Depending on the service you use, you can get street/trail names programmed into the notification, even if you don't have maps on your device. If you pay for the RWGPS premium service, you can customize the notification messages. This is SUPER useful on the road, but less so on the trails.

No intermediary app is going to fix the problem unless the IQ app is what's actually doing the routing, and it's bypassing Garmin's functionality, AND it gives you that threshold so you can stop the incessant off course warnings (without disabling notifications altogether).
 
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