Moving GPS Map Data Forward for Adventure Cycling Routes

March 10, 2016

Photo by Derek Gallegher

In 2003, long ago in this digital age, Adventure Cycling’s Routes & Maps Department released its first digital map data as a collection of GPS route waypoints, available to everyone, with additional service waypoints packaged for members only. 

This Routes & Maps map data was intended to be used with Garmin GPS devices as a supplement to our printed maps. You have to remember, at that time the “beeper,” or “pager,” had barely faded from use and cell phones were high-priced, oversized bricks, making GPS devices the most readily available option.

And this original map data, while helpful, was very difficult for many people to use. We were fortunate to have a dedicated volunteer, the late Fred Hiltz, spend much time documenting processes, creating data, updating files, and supporting users on Adventure Cycling’s GPS discussion forum.

Times change and since 2003, we’ve received requests to improve our data in a variety of ways. Naturally, we researched our options and in May 2015, we proudly released for sale Bicycle Route 66 and Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route data as our first foray into a much improved format. These two digital mapsets are represented with high resolution tracks and detailed service points, including much of the same information as is found on our printed maps, in a .gpx file format.

It is a huge undertaking to create this level of data for the rest of the 100+ map sections in our library and it cannot happen overnight. To bridge the time while we accomplish this enhanced data creation, we have been working with another super volunteer, Rami Haddad.

Earlier this week, thanks in part to Rami, we started distributing an updated, though limited, version of the GPX data. While not as feature rich as the coming GPX data, this interim data will give a peek into the future and should be easier to use. We have a series of support pages on the website to help users get started and understand how the data works, not only with a gps unit but on mobile devices as well.

Garmin Device Tracks

Image of low resolution track display on a Garmin GPS device.

These datasets will be accessible until all of our routes are updated to the enhanced version. The low-resolution route tracks will be available to everyone at no cost, and service locations will continue to be available to Adventure Cycling members only. The printed maps should still be used in conjunction with this data for optimum navigation accuracy.

Android Locus Services List

Image of services displayed using the app, Locus, on an Android device.

Top photo by Derek Gallagher.

GEOPOINTS BULLETIN is written by Jennifer ‘Jenn’ Hamelman, Routes & Mapping Assistant Director, and appears once a month, highlighting curious facts, figures, and persons from the Adventure Cycling Route Network with tips and hints for personal route creation thrown in for good measure. She also wants to remind you that map corrections and comments are always welcome via the online Map Correction Form.


Eric Schoen February 1, 2018, 8:26 PM

Not sure anyone's looking at old blog posts, but... I just went to look for some low res track data, to put on a map to look for intersections with non-ACA routes (e.g., USBRS). It seems the low-resolution digital data and service point files for members are now gone, and purchasing the high res data is the only option.

Was this intentional, or a bit of bad cyber luck? If intentional, I'm sorry to see the low-res data become unavailable. It was useful for basic planning tasks.

Jennifer H Milyko February 2, 2018, 7:57 AM

Hi Eric,

Yes, the removal of the low res files was intentional. We have opted to maintain a more accurate dataset in the digital data for devices that we sell:

You can still view a rough overlay of the routes in our interactive route map:


Thomas May 5, 2016, 12:44 AM

any chance of having the route available through the apps Gaia or

Jennifer H Milyko May 5, 2016, 8:25 AM


What we are offering with this product is data in a gpx format. If either of those apps can accept that file format, you can upload the data to them. You might review the list of things to look for in an app on this support page:

Phil April 24, 2016, 6:38 AM

Any chance you all tested it on a Garmin Etrex 30? It seems like it would work, just wondering if POI's would show up.


Jennifer H Milyko May 2, 2016, 6:44 AM

Yes, we have documented the use of this data on Garmin Etrex devices. See this page:

Hans Erdman March 10, 2016, 10:16 AM

Will these files be compatible with Garmin Edge 1000 Explore?

Jennifer H Milyko March 11, 2016, 6:34 AM


Yes, though we haven't tested that particular unit, we expect it should work very similarly to the Garmin Edge 1000. See this support page for more information:

We are curious to hear how it goes, please let us know!


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