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Adventure Series#3: Practice Trails and Downloading Maps for In the Field Testing

As we continue the preparation for the 10-day excursion into the MABDR (Mid Atlantic Backcountry Discovery Route), we will be testing the navigation tools selected in a real-world field test. For the test, we have the following tools at our disposal.

Paired with the following software platforms.

  1. USA OSM Topo Routable | GMapTool

  2. Garmin Birdseye View

  3. OnX Offroad

For this test, we're going to spend some time next with the Garmin Tread™ | Powersport GPS since the Garmin Basecamp computer software has been the primary software tool used. For now, we'll test this one, but know we need to keep checking other platforms like OnX Offroad.

Downloading US OSM Topo Routable and Birdeye View

In starting to look at the Topo maps for the Garmin device, we were able to find some fairly substantial maps for download at the USA OSM Topo Routable | GMapTool website for free. We own both the Garmin Topos map and now have this installed.

Steps to Download the Map and Install

  1. Obtain Map File from Web: Went to

  2. Select File to Download: Selected your Region, for now, we are testing in Virginia and the George Washington National Forest - so we selected USA South Atlantic OSM Topo Routable | GMapTool, which we select the download for US_South_Atlantic_OSM_Topo_v34 7z at the bottom of the page

  3. Unzip the Map File After Download: Once the map 7z file is downloaded, unzip the file with 7-Zip software, then run the '.bat' file in the unzipped file to install

  4. Add New Map to Desktop Garmin Basecamp: When in the Garmin Basecamp software, you will be able to navigate to the new USA South Atlantic OSM Topo by going to the File menu for 'Maps' and selecting that map

  5. Plugin Your Device: To load the new map on the Garmin Tread device, you will need to plug in your Garmin device, and on the unit itself -- select the option to allow the unit to connect to your computer

  6. Loading the Map on the Garmin Tread: Go to the Maps menu on your Basecamp desktop software and select Install Maps, which you will select the map, hit continue, and let it load on the Garmin Tread

Once the map is loaded, you will now have this map loaded on your computer and the device itself for going on the trail. The next step we need to take is to load the Birdeye view on the Garmin Tread to have that view too.

We downloaded the Maps and Birdeye of where we were going to have a good visual with the mapping a see how it functioned in a real-world test.

Real-World Testing

Use the Garmin Basecamp software to map your trail (Garmin BaseCamp (PC) - Creating a Track on the Map). For this test, we downloaded a section of the George Washington National Forest that was showing ORV trails. A couple of call-outs:

So How Did the Test Go?

Let's just say that the outing was a 'test run' and we ran into issues with user trial and error. Which is both "why we can't have nice things" and why it's important to get out and use the gear. Use your gear to get a handle on it and understand the nuances. You can have a shiny super amazing doohicky XYZ and if you can't use it to its full potential, it's of no or limited use.

So where did I land ... using the mapping software, I had a great game plan with a 22.8mi trail mapped out.

  • I have a solid handle on Tracks, Routes, Waypoints, and creating navigation using the US South Atlantic OSM Topos. But I learned a little about understanding territory and a need for public, private, and searching US Forestry for open/closed areas

  • The Navigation was a little tricky to get started, I started with navigating to the endpoint and routed me right to the point instead of taking me point to point on the map. So I had to set the route to the next waypoint

  • I ran into private property and missed a large section of the map due to the land rights issue. I am sure that I could have navigated right into that land but wanted to respect the housing community that had large prominent signs posted

  • When I rerouted, I failed to do was 'dismiss' the next Waypoint a few times and the system was trying to loop me back to that Waypoint

  • When I was able to finally get back on the trail at the top of Edinburg Gap Road, my route was planned for a road that was closed by the forestry service for the season

Here are my learnings:

  • Bring a printed copy of the Garmin Tread manual for reading and referencing during the practice run on the trail (Tread™‎ Owner’s manual (

  • The birdseye and maps were helpful with seeing where the roads connected and how they could get me from starting point to end. When I decided to go straight, I was able to get another 5 or more miles bypassing a few Waypoints, which really was the same as the normal digital map.

  • Don't let the testing get in the way of having fun, the Dictator and I finally bailed on the closed forestry road and headed over to Shenandoah National Park for a hike and run.

We trial ran our test, figured out the glitches, and we will pick up where we left off next weekend. I am sure that we'll have more glitches, but for now, we can continue to work out the kinks before the May departure.

For now, use the resources to get your Maps loaded from the US Topo's websites and download the Birdeyes for where you want to do a test run if you have purchased the Garmin Tread device.

Get out, have fun, don't let the glitch ruin your day, and happy hiking!


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