I am looking for suggestions on the best way to create POIs for an ATV trail that I am interested in. It is actually broken down into three sections. It is the Soo Line North ATV Trail. Here are links to the three different sections:
As the website indicates, it is a 148 mile trail from Moose Lake MN to Cass Lake MN. I rode the trail last year with my youngest son and decided that I really should have a GPS with me to determine where fuel and food can be found close to the trail. Over the course of the winter I bought a used Pharos GPS Phone 600 and installed the 2009 Garmin Mobile XT micro SD card. Thursday of last week was the first time I rode the trail with the GPS. I noticed that the trail still has the old Railroad Mile Posts along the trail. I did stop a couple of times and save the mile post as a favorite. I found out a couple of things while doing that, however, The first is that it takes a couple of minutes for it to start when the unit had been off. I had left it off to conserve battery power. The other thing is it can be difficult to read the screen in the sunny outdoors.
Anyway, I will likely get a Garmin Nuvi 500 soon. I am hoping since it is water resistant that it will be a good choice for an ATV.
Back to creating POIs, I do have Mapsource on my computer. I was trying to decide the best method for getting the Mile Posts on my GPS.
The original method was to simply stop on the trail, turn on the GPS Phone, save the location, and then edit it to the correct Mile Post number. That does/did seem to be painstakingly slow.
I was thinking that with Mapsource on my home computer I could simply take a known Mile Post POI and then create subsequent Mile Post POIs by adding a mile. I determined after trying this that I am not that good with Mapspource, but maybe I will get better with experience.
I was hoping that by checking with the FRA (Federal Railroad Administration) I could obtain the Mile Post coordinates from their database. After doing some searching, it does not appear that data is available. I have viewed the railroad crossing database, but that seems to be exclusively for grade crossings.
Another method that I was considering is to simply create POIs on the computer with the correct mile post numbers, but with erroneous coordinates. Then when I ride the trail I can stop each mile and edit the coordinates.
I am curious if anybody has done anything like this and which method(s) worked out best for them?
The other concern is fuel and food along the trail. I am finding that what is on Mapsource/Garmin Mobile XT is inadequate for this purpose. Needless to say, getting fuel is critical when on a trail, but I need to be able to get it as close as possible to the actual trail itself. I don't want to be searching for a fuel stop. Food is a little less critical because I can, and have, been known to simply park the ATV and walk to a place for water and/or food.
I have had some limited success with Google Earth in this regard. Google Earth, at least from my limited experience, seems to show restaurants and gas stations in some pretty rural areas that don't show up on Mapsource/Garmin Mobile XT. I am also interested in hearing from others how accurate the coordinates have been from Google Earth.
Are there any other resources I should be using? Is the closest competitor to Google Earth Microsoft Virtual Earth? Does it also show fuel and food stops?
I am sure that over the course of the year when I ride the trail a few times I will get a better feel for it, but just knowing that what you need is only 2 miles if you go east vs. 30 miles if you go west can be crucial on the trail. I am finding that this is very different than urban/suburban navigating where if you miss a gas station or Subway restaurant, drive another half of a mile and there is another one. I suspect some drivers in very rural areas have also ran across this.
Also, I have ran across some aftermarket trail maps available for ATVs and/or snowmobiles. I have never seen any discussion of them here. They actually seem kind of expensive for what you get, but maybe they are worth it. Has anybody here tried any of these?
This is what I have done for a few of the off road trails near me. Though I am in a Jeep. I run the entire trail with the GPS on or just use the route creation tool and lay in the coords. Then edit it in Mapsource with proximity warnings for the stops. I plan out the best/closest to the trail gas and food places then put the warning in so I know where to exit the trail and eat/fill up. I then save it as a route and on the next trip just follow the route.
For anybody that might be interested in snowmobiling and/or ATVing on Minnesota State DNR trails.
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