How to Make Google Maps my Rail Trail Friend"
August 23, 2021 4:45 PM   Subscribe

How can I use Google Maps to map out the rail trails of the Nova Scotia Coast?

Putting together a Bike trip for a series of Nova Scotia Rail Trails along the southern coast. Although there are some guide books and a few web sites, they seem clunky and difficult to use.

All of the rail trails are on Google Maps but don't show up totally when I search Nova Scotia Rail Trails. I can see the green lines for the trails at high resolution but as soon as I back out to see a bigger picture I lose the trail.

Would like to use GM to print a map of all the trails I would like to explore but am unsure if it's possible. please help with this or any other user friendly Nova Scotia trail resources.
posted by Xurando to Travel & Transportation around Nova Scotia (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm fairly tired of trying to wrestle Gmaps into helping me figure out where to ride. The free version of Trail Forks lists 51 Rail Trails in Nova Scotia, and the map looks pretty complete if you wanted to loop the southern end of the island from Halifax. If you pay for Pro you can take maps and routes with you offline/out of cell service.
posted by carsonb at 4:56 PM on August 23, 2021

So I actually think Google Maps has gotten worse for bicycling the past few years. Have you looked at bike routes in any of the popular cycling apps? I think a lot of the apps use Google Maps for data and then folks build in and name routes.
posted by bluedaisy at 5:11 PM on August 23, 2021

Google Maps has empirically gotten worse for bicycling recently. But Open Street Maps seems to be improving all the time.
posted by aniola at 5:56 PM on August 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

Seconding OpenStreetMaps -- they're community-maintained data created from GPS traces converted to tidy maps, with additional detail highlighted by versions at GeoHacks.
posted by k3ninho at 10:56 PM on August 23, 2021

Best answer: As an old OSMer, I took a look at the quality and continuity of the bike trails in NS. They're decent: there are a couple of dedicated local editors who seem to be looking after the map information. See for example the Adventure Trail which runs from Mahone Bay to Bridgewater: it's contiguous and seems to follow a path that's logical for a bike trail. It might be a little light on detail such as crossing/gate information, surface condition and so on, but those take really dedicated work to put in and maintain.

While OSM is open data, getting maps out in exactly the format you want can be bewildering, as there are so (too) many options. You can export trails to your favourite GPS app (probably) or GPS hardware (almost definitely). You can print maps in lots of different ways.

The one thing that OSM doesn't store is elevation data. Some of the map layers optimized for cycling try to overlay elevation as a useful add-on, but the height data isn't in the map data itself. At least you know that rail trails won't be fierce climbs, but other bike paths may not be so lucky.
posted by scruss at 7:24 AM on August 24, 2021

I think the AllTrails app might do some of this. It has maps and you can track your progress, and maybe you could string together a series into a trip? On desktop it has a function to plan a trip, and you can sort by activity (hike, bike, etc.). I love this app for hiking. Works in Canada!
posted by Snowishberlin at 4:12 PM on August 25, 2021

AllTrails looks like it uses OSM data, and the photos are helpful. Here's their equivalent of the map I highlighted: Bridgewater to Mader's Cove via Adventure Trail
posted by scruss at 6:12 PM on August 26, 2021

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