Whether you’re in an unfamiliar place or broadening your horizons in your hometown, there are plenty of online tools to customize different walking, running and bike paths wherever you are. Not all of the online tools we’ll be highlighting here are created equal, so let’s take a look at the best free options depending on what you’re looking at in a map.
All of the following options have solid reviews, and most importantly they are either free or have free versions that can get the job done. for all these, I recommend using the desktop version on the mobile app, at least in the beginning; I find it much easier to drag and drop different points on your paths with your mouse pad against your touch screen.
How to set a bike route with Google Maps
You’re probably well versed in Google Maps, even if you haven’t taken advantage of the ability to customize a bike or trail for your running. Here’s how to set a bike route on Google Maps:
1. Click on the direction icon. Make sure to select the Walking or Biking icon.
2. Choose your starting location and destination. Since you are probably creating a loop, click the plus sign to add the starting location again as a third stop.
3. Maps will show you the fastest and most direct route to your destination and back. Drag the blue lines to customize the loop according to the distance you want and target the places you want to pass through.
4. Once you are ready, tap on the option to send directions to your phone.
Once on your phone, tap profile icon in Google Maps and then select Offline Maps. Next, tap Put your own map You will see a mini map of where you are. All you have to do is move the blue rectangle over the area you intend to visit and then click Download.
Using Google Maps, you can safely rely on the accuracy of the route and all its features (time, distance, altitude). However, once you get used to the interface of sites specifically dedicated to bike paths, it will become clear that Google Maps is not focused on building paths. However, if you don’t want to try anything new or unfamiliar, you can’t go wrong with Google Maps.
For a no-frills experience: Onthegomap
I’m biased onthegomap. It is straightforward and easy to use. Create a route by simply clicking on the map to create a point on your route, then drag, drop and delete as needed. It’s faster than Google Maps, but with much less information (such as traffic reports or detailed terrain profiles) than the options below.
Tons of customization tools: Plotaroute
If you like digging into details, Plotaroute.com It has a wide range of road editing tools. You can create a track from scratch, merge and split an existing track, or even use the magical Make Me Track feature in a specific area. The menu along the side of the map is full of icons for planning turns, repeating loops, navigating to different sides of the road, and more.
After designing your route, you can examine the terrain and see the numbered directions to follow the route (which I now realize is a hugely underrated feature in all of these locations). Plotaroute is free, although you do need to sign up for an account to get all of these customization tools.
For your off-road adventures: Komot
If you are serious about cycling or running, komot It is your best bet for sport-specific guidance. It has shallow analysis and inch road profile, but what really makes this better for outdoor adventures is all of the Komoot’s pre-made roads. Filtered by distance, difficulty, and public transit links, the trails already in Komoot are similar to the easier-to-use versions of trail maps you might find at the entrance to most parks.
For the best crowdsourcing data: BikeMaps.org
BikeMaps.org Like Waze for cyclists. The website and app are crowdsourcing tools that local cyclists can use to map problem locations while riding, including accidents, near misses, hazards, and thefts.
The interface is aesthetically pleasing, although it is very sensitive to zooming in and out of the trackpad. The main drawback of BikeMaps: This site appears to be the most popular in Canada, so your experience will depend on how many fellow cyclists upload data in your area.
For socialite: Strava
listen to me. I know the build path feature moved beyond the firewall a few years ago, but even so, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Strava Absolutely.
For now: If you’re an avid Strava user who’s missed out on the road-builder , then in the list of past activities you can still click “save to my paths” to reuse it in future activities.
A little teaser… Stay tuned for a more detailed post on how to hack the free subscription and create your own tracks anyway. Until then: Strava is loved by all kinds of athletes, and Heatmap is a great tool for finding tried and true routes near you.
You can’t go wrong with any of the above options. Some people are interested in inch-by-inch height profiles, while others just want to drop three points on the map and use the first loop they create. My last tip is to always make sure you download an offline copy of your map, or better yet, write backup directions on a scrap of paper. Better safe than sorry.