Howto Plan Routes and Tracks


Any map that focuses on guiding you along trails and small ways will not route over long distances on you GPS. While Nuvis, and possibly Oregon/Colorado have some more processing power and due to reasonable screen size make it possible to plan routes on the GPS directly to some extent, Vista HCx / Legend HCx or edge 705 users will usually plan their routes in mapsource or using Top 50 maps. 

As the Autorouting of the openmtbmap in Garmin Mapsource usually works very well, but once you send long routes without via-points to your GPS the GPS cannot recalculate the route you either have to insert additional via points, which is directly in Mapsource not the easiest thing or you can use WinGDB ( ) to insert additional via-points to your route.

This is what I wan’t to explain here.

Please use Mapsource 6.16 or Basecamp 3 for autorouting. It has a new routing engine/algorythm that is superior to older Mapsource versions, that also behaves more closely to the GPS.


Setting Up Mapsource: 

I usually set Mapsource to use Car/Motorcycle – Shorter Distance – Prefer Highways slider to the right (this is found under tools à Preferences à Routing)

Mapsource Autorouting Settings


In case you plan a cycle route and want to avoid difficult tracks and trails check “Toll Roads” in the “Try to Avoid” panel.

If you wan’t to have more accurate time information go to advanced and set the following speeds:

Driving Speeds Mapsource

Note that I only divided the lower three values by two. Changing Interstate Highways or major Highways speed value does not matter. 

You can play around changing to other speeds, but the more you change here, the greater will be the difference on your GPS in terms of how it recalculates the routes as you can’t set these speeds on your GPS itself. Therefore I would advise simply dividing these values by a factor (i.e. 2). 

Now click on close, and in the Routing window click on Apply.



The actual route planning: 

  1. Plan your route in Mapsource, To do that click on the route tool (the tool in the middle):

And click at each point you want to go to.

  1. Go to File à Save as and save the route as gdb file (the default filetype)
  2. Open Wingdb (0.43 or later - download it here: ), open the saved route and use option "5. Add extra via points to routes”. You can set in preferences the average distance between via points that should be used. The lower the distance the closer your GPS will stick to the route calculated. I usually set 5km for routes that go through cities, or up to 9km for cycle routes alongside national/international cycle routes like the “Donauradwanderweg”.

You can either save the output or reopen it in a new Mapsource window ( on Output Mapsource is checked), which is what we do here now. To start WinGDB click on "Convert". Please note as of WinGDB Version 3.50 Option 5 is found under Route Conversions with number 15.






  1. Back in Mapsource, Right click on the route and recalculate it. Now I usually set Mapsource Preferences to “faster route” and leave the slider in the middle. This way route recalculation will be more or less the same as in Mapsource. I use the additional 1. step of calculating the route with “shorter route” and “prefer highways” so that the route is rather straight. If you don’t mind some detours you could both times use “faster distance”.
  2. Now click on Transfer à Send to device and send the route to the GPS. Attention Mapsource will also send routes to an external cardreader, but you can’t reopen them. Therefore contrary to sending cards, you have to connect the GPS via USB to your computer. Note that most units have a maximum of 20 routes that they can save, and the filename for a route is maximum 12 or 14 characters long. If there are more routes old routes may be overwritten, if the route name does not differ in the first 12 characters, the same will happen.


Attention: Recalculation of a route on GPS can only work if the same map that is used to generate the route in Mapsource, also is activated on the GPS itself. If this is not the case either transfer it, or use tracks instead of routes. You can use WinGDB to make tracks out of routes (see below).


Additional Tipps:

Type of Way, way attributes

To see on what kind of streets a route is calculated, double click the route and click on the “directions” tab. Here you can see the names of the streets/routes and as suffix the type of road. Also additional info like xbk (no bicycles allowed) or bkrt (bicycle route) give further info about the type of ways.

 Route Information


Tracks instead of Routes

If you don't have the Openmtbmap installed on your GPS, you can still profit from routes calculated with Mapsource, by using WinGDB to convert Routes into Tracks.


Also If you need more than 20 routes on your GPS, or you prefer to work with tracks in general, or you have non Garmin GPS, you can use WinGDB to create a track from the route. Tracks are overlayed on you GPS over the map (whereas routes are shown below a street), and guide you in straight lines between each point. 

Whereas routes only offer 50 viapoints (on most outdoor units, Some GPS may have higher limits), tracks can have 500 or more points per track depending on the GPS you want to use the track with. Which of the options 11-14 best suits your needs is explained in the WinGDB helpfile.




20 comments to Howto Plan Routes and Tracks

  • Sebov

    Hey Felix,

    bei der Planung einer Route mit der BayernMap tritt folgender Fehler auf: Die Höhenmeter-Daten aus der von mir erstellten Route werden nicht in den Track übernommen. Kann ich da was falsch machen?

    Viele Grüße

  • JaLu97

    Wie kann ich die bei Basecamp geplanten Routen auf mein GPS-Gerät übertragen, wenn ich nur einen Mac zur Verfügung habe? Das genannte Programm “Win….” kann ich auf dem Mac nicht installieren. Danke.

    • extremecarver

      Das Program WinGDB ist nur dafür da die Routenviapunkte zusätzlich zu setzen – oder evtl überflüssige zu löschen. Du sendest die Routen/Tracks einfach von Basecamp an dein GPS-Gerät.

  • simobova

    Hi Felix,

    I am a newcomer, so first of all–thanks for this great piece of work.

    I have installed a map together with contours (United States, West) on my Garmin (eTrex Touch 35t). I noticed that when I design a route (the way I do it is, create waypoints and then create a route using the waypoints), the details for the route include the elevation profile but do not include the total elevation for the route (which is a useful data).

    Am I missing something in the configuration, or is this a known behaviour?

    Thanks for your help,

  • bjterminator

    ich weiss nicht, ob ich es hier gelesen habe, jedenfalls finde ich es nicht mehr:

    Es soll mit dem GPSMap 60csx Probleme geben, wenn ein Track über mehrere Länder führt. Zum Beispiel eine Etappe durch die Alpen beginnt in Österreich und endet in Italien.
    Gibt es da Darstellungsprobleme im GPS? Oder überhaupt Probleme?
    Oder muss ich die Route teilen, eine bis zur Grenze, die nächste Route oder besser Track ab der Grenze?

    Ist dir da was bekannt?

    (Voraussetzung ist natürlich, dass ich das Kartenmaterial der verschiedenen Länder auf dem GPS geladen habe).

    • extremecarver

      Lad in so einem Fall lieber die Alpenkarte (wenn die Ausreicht -je nachdem wie weit südlich du in Italien runterkommst) bzw die Europakarte.

      Das Problem ist dass die eine Länderkarte sonst evtl leer die andere Länderkarte überlappt (und du die dann aktivieren/deaktivieren musst). Tracks über verschiedene Karten wären kein Problem – Routen müssen auf einer Karte geplant sein.

      Ich würde Tracks immer Tageweise planen (außer du hast Monstertage mit +150km)!

      • bjterminator

        vielen Dank.

        Du meinst die openmtmap_Alps?

        Ja, mein Alpencross geht von Innsbruck nach Cortina d´Ampezzo. Die Tagesetappen liegen bei 35-60km.

        Ich fahre eigentlich nur mit Tracks. Habe mir das so angewöhnt.

        Ist die Alpen-Karte anders gegenüber den einzelnen Länderkarten?
        Oder ist sie aus den einzelnen Ländern zusammengefügt zu dem Gebiet “Alpen”?

  • Fabio Panin

    hello – we used Garmin Legend in our trip to Hokkaido. I had managed, with great effort, to load the velomaps on the device. However we were greatly disappoined already on day 1 when the device was unable to locate a town (Yubari) only 55 km away from where we were (Chiotse airport). We tried different ways, and we were under the impression the device got mixed up because of a sort of “bermuda triangle”effect due to map overlapping. It could not recognize the place even when we were there!
    We kept using the device with varying success. Sometime it was able to find the exact address of an hotel (already included in the map) 80 km away, sometime it was unable to find a place nearby.

    The second issue we had was the choice of the route made by the device. Even when a clear, straightforward road existed between two places. the devise was selecting secondary roads zig-zaging across the country. Of course we played around with the settings e.g. toll roads etc but we could not understand the logic followed by the device. We ended up in dirt roads, dead end roads. Eventually we could not trust the device suggested route, as one is not willing to double the mileage in a trip.

    For these reasons, we are not so enthusiastic about this navigation system.

    I would like to hear some expert opinion about it.

    As a final remark, the iPhone with Google maps was the helper that took us out of trouble several times.

    • extremecarver

      1. Did you try to navigate with a car? That cannot work with the Velomaps. It’s only autorouting for cyclists!
      About settings see here:

      2. You should always only activate 1 map on the device at a time. Then you will have no problems with overlapping.

      3. As for what is found – everything that is inside Openstreetmap should be found – but there’s a catch. Currently there is not much support for Japanese or Chinese characters – so there your mileage may vary. That means also – if it isn’t in openstreetmap database, it won#t be on my maps (except contourlines).

  • rawi

    Thank you very much for the quick response.
    But OhOh, I could download many (!) *.hgt files and the recomended conversion is for tiff?!
    Unfortunately I don’t understand things that far, to get all this transformed and loaded into Qlandkarte. What a pitty…
    Regards, rawi

  • rawi

    First of all, I want to express my admiration for the results of your tremendous work here.
    As I am new here, very new, I cannot grasp the needed skills to realize something like this.
    And because I am new, I’m just struggling to create a track in Morocco to the north of Tafraout in the Anti-Atlas mountains (Qlandkarte on Kubuntu).
    While the maps definitely have contour and height informations I cannot get a height-profile for the tour. Qlandkarte says “No or wrong data” actualy in german “Keine oder schlechte Daten”.

    Any hint on this issue, someone?

    Thanks, rawi

  • Jan Stehn

    tja, war etwas unpräzise, also:
    mit befestigt meine ich asphaltiert
    mit kleinen Wegen meine ich verkehrsarme Straßen

  • Jan Stehn

    welche Routeneinstellungen, bzw. ‘Aktivitätsprofile’ sollte ich bei dem Programm Garmin Basecamp wählen, wenn ich bevorzug kleine, aber befestigte Wege möchte?
    Vielen Dank für einen Hinweis,

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