Fundy Circuit GPS tracks

The Fundy Circuit is a 3 day hiking trip in Fundy's National Park wilderness. A map is available online. Plenty of rivers and brooks are along the way making water access very easy.

The first day is 17 km from headquarters to the Foster Brook back country camping ground with a total ascent of 660 meters. The coastal littoral trail provides you with a nice view of the Bay of Fundy and its refreshing air. A small section of the trail is next to the asphalt road up to Foster Brook campground. You will also cross a wooden covered bridge. From there you can choose to go to the beach to take a break. From Point Wolf you start on the Marven Lake trail up to the intersection with Foster Brook trail. At the intersection you will have to choose if you want to bring firewood to the camp ground. You will have to carry it on the last ~2 km which includes the first river crossing. The Foster Brook back country campground is one of the nicest of Fundy Park.

On day two, you walk back the small section of Foster Brook trail to Marven Lake trail. In front of you is another 17 km with 600 m of elevation. Before arriving to Marven Lake you will continue on the Bennett Brook trail. A good spot to lunch is right after the river crossing. This section is very steep downhill and uphill afterwards. Once you complete the Bennett Brook trail you will walk a bit on a paved road to get to Lac Bennett where you can expect plenty of people canoeing and swimming. This is also a good place to relax before doing the last stretch up to Tracey Lake. If you have the option choose Lake Bruin campground over the Tracey Lake campground; it is a bit nicer.

Day three is a 19 km hike with only 250 m of ascension. After the two previous days, it is easier except for the many river crossings. You will complete the Tracey Lake trail up to Laverty road. This part of the trail can be a bit swampy. You will have to walk on Laverty road up to the parking spot where you will find The Forks trail head. For one of the river crossings, you will have to hop on a few big rocks with the help of a cable as seen in the picture below. From there you go down south on the Upper Salmon River trail until you arrive back at headquarters. In some places the trail is not very obvious to follow. The last river crossing is the largest of the course. A cable cross the river to help you keep your balance.

You can download the GPS information (in GPX file format) for day one, two and three.
Have fun :-)

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Google Maps to Garmin eTrex

In this post I describe my experience with using Google Maps to create tracks/routes for bicycle touring for my handheld Garmin GPS.

My first challenge was that I wanted the ability to save the itinerary in My Maps so I could edit the itinerary at will.

It took me a day or so to realize that if you select "avoid highways" in the Google Maps advanced search options the link to save the map to My Maps will magically and silently disappear. Also, if you exceed 25 points (including destinations (A, B, C, etc.) and custom points (white circles) you will not be able to save the map.

My solution is to manually avoid highways and use one map for each day of a trip. Single-day maps also makes it easier to use on my GPS device. I prefer to have single-day segments instead of one big monolithic itinerary on my GPS device. I'm left with the annoyance of not being able to use the avoid highways option.

My next step was transferring the map to my Garmin device.

Google Maps has an option to send the information directly to a GPS device. With a Garmin device, you need to first install the Garmin Communicator plugin which works with Internet Explorer or Firefox. I use Chrome *sigh*. While the plug-in allows you to transfer way points and routes, the Google Maps implementation limits you to single way point. So if you want be able to transfer the route using Google Maps this makes the Google Maps + Garmin Communicator option pretty useless.

An alternative is to use MapQuest (which I don't like at all). MapQuest can transfer routes. However, it will only transfer your destinations (A, B, C, etc.) and create a route in your Garmin device, leaving your GPS to do the routing calculations. I'm not a big fan of the route calculations of my Garmin eTrex Vista. I usually want to fix the exact streets I'm going to use before the trip. Editing on my GPS device is not an option for me. So Map Quest was not a good option for me. It is also far inferior to Google Maps for bicycle touring since that it lacks the Google Maps street view option. With Google Maps I can verify if a certain roads on my itinerary have decent shoulders or generally look safe for biking which is very important for me.

The Garmin Communicator plugin is useful to upload single way points from Google maps to your Garmin device. I use it for that purpose i.e. upload campground coordinates, places to visit, etc.

In order to upload my route to my Garmin device, I ended up using two additional free tools. I generally don't like Garmin tools such as Map Source and find it frustrating to search for software downloads on their web site.

My solution is to convert my Google Map into KML and then upload the KML on my Garmin device.

First you need to convert your Google Map data into the Google earth KML format. You can do so using the free GPS visualizer online tool. Make sure to select the output format to ".kml" and not ".kmz". KMZ is a zip format for KML and the next tool I'm using doesn't support compressed KML. The input you provide to the on-line application is simply the Google Maps link. Make sure to give the link you would paste in an e-mail from the "link" button at top of Google Maps. Do not provide it the link in your browser address bar at this will most likely not work.

GPS Visualizer will be able to download the required information to produce the KML file. Download the KML file. You can visualize it using Google Earth if you have it installed on your computer.

The second tool is GPSBabble, free software under the GPL license. I recommend you to download version 1.3.7 or more recent even though at this point it is still branded as beta. For the input file select Google Earth (Keyhole) Markup Language. Provide it the KML you downloaded from GPS Visualizer. In the translation options pane select Tracks. In output, select Device ad Garmin as the format. Click apply and voila!

You will end up with tracks, and not routes. Personally this is exactly what I want. If you really want a route, and not a track, you can select "Convert tracks to route" in the filter options. However, you will most likely run out of way points.

Hope that helps,

Note: There is also a trick to append &output=kml to the Google Maps URL in order to obtain the KML file. However, this seems to discard all destinations except destination A and destination B.

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