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TrailHack#103: Using GPS Coordinates and Google Maps to Navigate to the Trail Head

GPS coordinates? What’s that you say? Tactical or just trying to find the ever-loving trailhead.

Unlocking GPS Coordinates

Unlocking how to use GPS coordinates to get from the ‘map in the app’ to get to the trailhead makes your life just a little easier. First, GPS coordinates are:

The geographic coordinate system is a spherical or ellipsoidal coordinate system for measuring and communicating positions directly on the Earth as latitude and longitude. It is the simplest, oldest, and most widely used of the thousands of spatial reference systems that are in use, and forms the basis for most others. Wikipedia

Wow, that is a mouth full. Easier said every inch of the earth has a numerical address. Measured in a sequence of numbers. Unless you’re a flat earther, in which case, I have no clue how to explain this to you.


Science explanation aside, when you are in Apps like OnX Hunt or All Trails, each trailhead has a GPS coordinate that can be used for navigation. Let’s look at OnX Hunt. As you swipe, scroll, and make your way through the OnX app, you can tap a location. When you tap, it drops a solid green circle on the screen and then slides up from the bottom information about where you tapped.


At the bottom of the information block, you’ll see GPS coordinates for where you clicked on the map. In this case, I clicked on the parking lot of the map and the GPS coordinates are 38.72776, -76.70833.

Now I can click on Copy and open up Google Maps (because remember from previous blogs, Apple Maps is a dumpster fire). When I paste the coordinates in, tap search, viola … the option for Directions is now available.


If you want to hack it one more time, sometimes you can click the X to close out of the search and the name of the place will pop up with the Google loaded address.


Once you tap the X, the name of the trailhead or parking lot might appear. If nothing appears, the GPS coordinates are typically good if you know for a fact it’s a trailhead or can see the parking lot.


Happy hiking and let us know if there are any topics you’d like to hear more about. Happy new year!

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