How To Map Your Trail Run – Quick & Easy

Knowing how to map out a trail run has all sorts of advantages and once you know how to do it you can make it out, get elevation data, and more in just a few minutes. There’s no reason not to and you’ll get a lot of good information before your run about elevation changes, total distance, and several additional related data points.

So – how do you do it? Well, the easiest way is to watch the video! You’ll see an over-the-shoulder view of how you can take data from a mapping program, get your own GPX file (commonly used mapping file with position and elevation data), and then take that file and import it into a data visualizer to find out elevation gain and anything else you might want to know.

If you haven’t mapped a run before just know that it is very simple to do – you can use the resources listed below to get started. It’s basically a matter of clicking at points on a map in order to connect the dots and make your route. The more points you put, the more accurate it will be. This is important when considering trail runs where you might have large elevation changes in short periods of time – it pays to be more accurate with your route placement in these areas!

Best of all, the tools you need to map your trail run are free and simple to use. There are other ways of doing this, the method I show in the video is just the way I do it.

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One of the reasons we like to map out our routes is to get a sense of the total distance along with total elevation gain. There is a huge difference between a 20 mile run with 3,000 feet of gain, and the same route with 6,000 feet of gain! Not only in total effort required but in the time it will take to complete the route. For planning and letting people know where you are going and how long you’ll be gone, mapping is out trails is the way to go.

Other Uses

You can also generate your own GPX files and then import them into online tools like Garmin Connect where you can then push them to your GPS watch so that you have the route on your watch.


Here are the resources mentioned in the video:

Google maps

Gmap pedometer

Important GPX file to view elevation data (if wanted)


Do you have a preferred way of making your trail maps? Let us know.