Turn by turn navigation, route map creation, GPS statistics tracking and smartphone portability are a few of the features that make these tools popular with cyclists today. They are easy to use, accurate and used for trail, road, off-road and gravel road route planning. There are many of choices out there but these are a few that I have used and have become familiar with.
Google Maps Biking Directions has been a long time favorite of mine for mapping out routes. Google has done a great job including trails, bike lanes and bike friendly roads for all over the United States making it very easy to plan a bike trip. Maps you create can be named, saved and shared with others by logging into your Google account. For more infomation, see my post Using Biking Directions in Google Maps to Plan Your Next Ride.
Google Maps for Android is a very powerful map tool in the palm of your hand. Select the Bicycling mode and use it to get directions or navigate. Load your saved maps from Google Maps Biking Directions on the web for turn by turn directions and navigation. By selecting "Layers" you can view maps with satellite view, terrain, traffic or loading saved maps.
Google Navigation for Android is part of the Google Maps app and has recently added turn by turn directions for biking. Use it to navigate just like you would in your car. Turn on voice guided navigation for turn by turn audible instructions. For more detailed information on this great feature for your Android smartphone, see my post Turn-by-Turn Navigation for Biking Added in Latest Google Maps Update for Android Users.
MapMyRide is another very popular app with cyclists. It is available for both Android and iPhone users. This app allows you to plan out your rides on the web, share them with other users and follow your planned ride while using live GPS tracking and statistics logging. Use it to follow your own saved routes or ones created by others. Know the features of your planned ride before you start, such as distance or elevation gain and changes. Record your rides with GPS for results at the end of your ride and use the data to compete against yourself or others next time you choose that route.
Run. Bike. Route. for Android allows you to plan out your rides directly on your smartphone without the use of your computer using Google's direction service. Save your mapped rides for future use and load them at your convenience before a ride. This handy little app will calculate distance, show elevation changes on a graph or detailed on your map. I use this app to stay on course with its live GPS tracking that shows where I am on my selected route. For more detailed information on this app, see my recent post Planning Your Next Ride Just Got Easier With Run. Bike. Route. for Android.
Cyclopath is operated by GroupLens Research, a research group at the University of Minnesota that is a user-maintained directions map for Twin Cities cyclists. This online map tool and is also available for Android smartphones. Cyclopath allows users to enter their own bikeability ratings to choose the route that is best for them. Go to the Route Library to find private and public routes and enable your GPS to record your rides. It is an editable map that allows users to share information about routes, trails and roads. It will also allow you add tags and fix map problems. Cyclopath has a video tutorial wiki page that provides you with all of the information on how to use its features. Use the Cyclopath online map to find the right bikeability route for you from your computer.
With today's mapping technology, multitude of apps and smartphone portability, planning your next trail, road or gravel ride couldn't be easier. Try these out and see which ones are best for the style of riding you do.