Singletracks has been creating topo maps for mountain biking and sharing GPS data for nearly a decade now, and we’re constantly working to improve our mapping tools. Last month we rolled out some big changes we’re really stoked about–so read on to get the lowdown.
The image below shows a sample map with 3 keys marked to correspond to the explanation that follows.
Multiple topo map options (#1)
We really love the topo maps from Neotreks (above) because they show nearly everything we care about–terrain, trails, roads, and landmarks–but like any single map choice, they don’t always include everything. The latest Singletracks map update adds four additional topo background options (US only): USGS topos, USGS scanned topos, Open Cycle Maps, and satellite imagery with topo lines overlaid on top. We like to use these additional options to scout former forest roadbeds, get a view from the sky, and to see newer system trails that may not have been added to Neotreks yet.
Outside the US, the default topo map background tiles come from Open Cycle.
Recommended routes (#2)
Nearly 2,500 of the topo maps on Singletracks include at least one “recommended route” listed below the map. Recommended routes include everything from complete maps of entire trail systems to race courses to locals’ favorite trail linkages. The route list shows the name of the route, the length, elevation gain, and average route rating. By default, the top-rated route is shown whenever the map is loaded. Choose the route that’s best for you based on the length and elevation gain.
Downloadable maps, elevation profiles, and raw GPS data (#3)
Each recommended route features a downloadable and printable PDF with the map and elevation profile included. Downloadable GPX and KML-formatted GPS data is still available, and the elevation plots are now interactive–mouse over a spot on the chart to see the exact elevation and distance.
You can also rate each route to help us improve route rankings and ratings.
By crowdsourcing mountain bike routes for trail systems, Singletracks is able to speed up the map approval process, which in the past could take up to a week or more. This also means the resulting GPS data will be more continuous and therefore easier to follow on your GPS device (the process of manipulating and manually stitching multiple GPS traces together can cause major issues here).
We’re also changing the way we award points and free memberships for GPS submissions. Going forward, anyone who has earned more than 30 contribution points in the past year will gain full access to the Singletracks topo maps. We’ll share more about this in a separate post, but GPS submissions and new trail listings are now worth 3 points each, reviews (trail and gear) are worth 2 points each, and photos/videos are worth 1 point each. How easy is it to earn free access? Just upload 30 trail photos. Or review 6 trails, 6 pieces of gear, and upload 2 trail routes… you get the picture.
If you haven’t looked at the topo maps on Singletracks in a while, check out this sample and let us know what you think of the changes!