Tutorial: Using Google Earth to Create Tracks and Waypoints to send to your GPS

To watch a basic video tutorial on this process hit play below or continue below to read detailed instructions.

Having trouble viewing the video. Click here for the YouTube version.

  1. Open Google Earth. Free software from Google - Download it if you haven't already.
  2. Zoom to an area you are interested in Scouting or Taking some sort of Trip to.
  3. Create a Folder in 'My Places' to organize your data for this trip. I will create a 'Scouting' folder, then a new sub folder with this trip's date and location information - '2011 Wyoming Wapiti Basin Elk Hunt'
  4. As you browse around the area, mark waypoints of possible areas you may want to visit (possible campsites, lookouts, meadow openings, possible bedding areas, landmarks you may want to visit, edges of timber, etc.).
  5. To mark a Waypoint select the 'Add Placemark' tool from the Toolbar (The yellow Push Pin icon).
  6. The waypoint will automatically be added to the map at the center of your view. Left Click and Drag the waypoint to the place on the map where you want to add the waypoint.
  7. In the 'New Placemark' window that popped up on the screen, change the name of the waypoint to a meaningful name. Select the waypoint icon in this window to change the icon to a more appropriate icon. (Note: these icons will not show the same in BaseCamp or on your GPS).
  8. Note: If you need to move or edit a feature you create you can always right click it and select 'Properties' to get back into edit mode.
  9. Now let's create a Track that represents the route we plan to walk based on the terrain features we can see in the satellite image.
  10. Select the 'Add Path' Button in the Toolbar at the top of the screen.
  11. A 'New Path' window pops up - DON'T JUST PRESS THE OK BUTTON IN THIS WINDOW - YOU MUST DRAW YOUR TRACK FIRST. Move the 'New Path' Window to the side and start left clicking on the map where you want to create a track.
  12. Continue Left Clicking to add points along the path you want to take. Alternatively, you can hold the Left Click and drag to quickly create a line with a bunch of points.
  13. In the 'New Path' window that popped up on the screen, Name the path an appropriate name. Select the 'Style, Color' Tab if you want to change the appearance of the line you created. Add a description if you wish.
  14. Now you have tracks and waypoints to send to your GPS. We need to save our data as a .kml file. Right Click on your folder in My Places on the left side of the screen - '2011 Wyoming Wapiti Basin Elk Hunt' in our example. Select 'Save Place As' and save a .kml file to your 'My Documents' or some place that is easy for you to remember. (Note: You should be able to expand this folder and see the tracks and waypoints you added as a subset of this folder. If all the features you created aren't under this folder, you need to click and drag them to this folder.
  15. Open a web browser (i.e. Internet Explorer or FireFox) and google "kml to gdb web converter". Here is the one I use, though there are many that will accomplish this task.
  16. In the web converter I use here are the parameters I set: WAYPOINTS [W], Input file: Google Earth (Keyhole) Markup Language, Output File: Garmin MapSource - gdb, Try to output all Types of data - YES. Now Upload your GPS file: (Browse to the .kml file you just saved)
  17. Now select Convert the File. Save the output .gdb file to the folder location you have been using
  18. Open Garmin's BaseCamp software and select 'File' > 'Import' and browse to the .gdb file you just saved.
  19. Your Waypoints and Tracks are now imported into BaseCamp, ready to be sent to your GPS! You should see your file in 'My Collections' under 'Library' on the left side of your screen. If BaseCamp didn't automatically zoom to your data, you can left click on your file under 'My Collections' - you will now see your data in a table at the bottom of your screen. Right click on any waypoint and select 'Show on Map'.
  20. Your waypoint symbols you set up in Google Earth will most likely not come through in BaseCamp, so you can also edit the names and symbols of your waypoints by right clicking the feature in the table at the bottom of the screen and selecting 'Properties'.
  21. To send the Tracks and Waypoints to your GPS, Plug in your GPS to your computer via USB. Right click on your file in 'My Collections' under 'Library' on the Left side of your screen and select 'Send To' - then select your GPS.

Congrats!  Now you're ready for the fun part - Hit the field with more Confidence!