How to Plot a Walking Route on Google Maps
Google Maps is an essential planning device for hikers and hill walkers. In seconds, you can get an aerial view of your chosen location showing the terrain, trails, points of interest, accommodation options, and eateries. Each of these markers is user-reviewed and there’s even a street view to give you an idea of what the roads and some of the trails or viewpoints might be like.
In essence, you have a huge quantity of valuable and targeted information right at the tips of your fingers. To aid with navigation, you can also plot a walking route on Google Maps to help guide you along your trail. Here’s how to do it.
Reading the Map
Before you begin plotting a walking route on Google Maps, you need to know what you’re looking at. Briefly, most of the features should be obvious. Blue is an area of water, green is rural land, and grey is an urban area. In terms of roads, a thick yellow line is a motorway, a thinner yellow line is an A-road, and white lines are B-roads or country roads.
Beyond this, there are a few extra tips that may help hillwalkers to navigate. Dark green areas are nature spots such as National Parks and AONBs. Most important of all, dashed green lines are hiking trails, scenic by-ways, and walking paths!
Google Maps has another fantastic feature which will allow you to visualise your walking route more efficiently. In the bottom left of the screen, you can select map layers to shift the screen to a different view.
The “layers” function is particularly beneficial for showing topography and elevation. This valuable information helps you plot your hike by finding where the steep bits of the trail might be. Lastly, the satellite map layer will provide a more realistic view of the hiking area.
Plotting A-B Hikes
Plotting a walking route on Google Maps that simply goes from A to B is relatively straightforward. To begin with, set your starting location on the map by either typing in your desired address or by clicking on your chosen area. A red pin should appear showing your desired trailhead.
Next, you can click the “directions” button on the side tab. This allows you to type in the address of your end destination. Alternatively, right-click on the map and select “Directions to here” from the pop-up menu. In both cases, ensure the walking avatar is selected to give you the appropriate time estimate and route planning tool.
This is a convenient way of plotting a route quickly between two points. However, most of the planning is done for you through the Google Maps programme. There is little space for you to manoeuvre and choose more specified routes.
Creating a Map
To have more flexibility with plotting a walking route on Google Maps, you need to create your own map. To do this, select the menu tab in the top left corner of the screen. Next, select “Your places” from the drop-down menu. Click on “Maps” in the right-hand tab. Then, in the bottom left of the screen, select “Create Map”.
A new window should pop up with a slightly different interface. Begin by giving the map a title and adding some details to the description box. Move the map by dragging your mouse until it hovers over your designated hiking area. Now the interface is prepped, there are a few ways to interactively plot your walking route on Google Maps.
One way to plot a trail is to use markers. In the left pop-up box, you will notice a section called “Untitled layer”. For clarity, rename this to fit your chosen walking route. Next, look beneath the search bar where you will see a small pin. When you select this, your pointer will turn into a cross which allows you to pinpoint a location on the map.
You can then create a marker along your chosen route and label it as such. You can continue to add markers along your desired hiking path until you have plotted out your full route. At this stage, select your start point and click on the arrow symbol in the pop-up window stating, “Directions to here”.
In the side window, a new tab will pop up. This is another layer which can be labelled to match your path. Make sure the mode of transport is set to walking before filling in the rest of the walking route on Google Maps by continuing to press “Add destination”.
Draw a Line
This is perhaps the most simple and freehand way to plot a walking route on Google Maps. Still using the “create map” function, click on the “draw a line” tab that sits below the search bar and alongside the marker pin. Select “Add walking route” from the dropdown menu.
Again, as with the marker, a cross will appear where your mouse was. Use this to click on your chosen starting location. It is then possible to move your cursor along your intended walking trail, clicking whenever you wish to set a marker or change directions.
This is a fantastic way to plot a walking route on Google Maps and it’s the most recommended option. It gives you full flexibility to create a trail that is exactly suited to your needs and follows your specific route.
Final Tips to Plot a Walking Route on Google Maps
Once you have finished creating your walking route, you can save your map and share it with friends. This allows you to print the map, use it alongside a GPS device, or to store it for future reference. As a bonus, the map saves automatically to your Google Drive and is backed up in the cloud.
If you want to plot a walking route on Google Maps and are interested in hiking distances, don’t forget to use the measurement function. By tracing this feature along your chosen trail, it will give you a good estimate of how far you will walk. Just like that, you have a curated walking trail designed using accurate calculations. A feat all completed on Google Maps!