Top Route Mapping Websites

Want to determine mileage for a new route you're itching to try, or see where others like to ride? Check out these websites, which allow you to easily map your cycling routes and view routes saved by others.

The sites can all calculate total mileage of the total ride, as well as point-to-point numbers along the way. Some tally elevation changes too, so you can see how much you'll climb. Others can even calculate calories burned based on your weight and speed. All in all, some pretty nifty tricks.

Most offer the ability to save the mapped routes as data files for upload to your GPS device - things like the Garmin Edge 800, the Magellan Cyclo 505 or other devices tools that give turn-by-turn directions.

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Strava
Strava.

Strava is pretty much king of the performance tracking tools available to runners and cyclists.  And its relatively new route mapping feature only adds to the coolness of the program and the weight of its position in the market.  

Strava's existing prominence (actually dominance too, in terms of market share) as a tool for runners and cyclists around the world offers much value to the route mapping feature of the program as well.  For instance, when plotting a route on its clear and easy to use interface, an option you can select is for your routes to automatically go to the highest-traffic bike and running routes in the vicinity, based on the bazillions of user data points already in the system.  That means if I try to mark a route through my home city, the program will, within reason, point you to the most ideal cycling routes based on known, existing bike traffic.

With a free Strava account, you can save, edit and share your routes with friends. Additionally once saved, a user has the opportunity to print turn-by-turn directions, export the route as a GPS file, duplicate or edit existing routes. More »

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Photo of a kid on bike reading map.
David Deas / Getty Images

Map My Ride (and its counterparts, Map My Run and no joke, Map My Dogwalk, which all run on the same basic software) used to be at the top of my list. However, that rating has fallen in recent years due to ongoing problems with app performance and non-existent customer service. As a paid user I had difficulty printing maps and generating ride notes and other seeming basic functionalities of a route mapping tooI.  

Probably the most visually appealing tool of the bunch, the Map My Ride planner offers many handy features an easy-to-use interface. Featuring a drawing tool that can plant icons along the way for water stops, bathroom breaks and first-aid stations, Map My Ride is an easy way to put together a good-looking handout (cue sheet) for riders. Plus, the routes you create on this site can be saved as well as exported to GPS devices and Google Earth. 

It would be ideal for someone organizing a bike ride or tour, but for the problems the site had in allowing paid users ($11.99 gets you five printable routes each month) to actually print PDF maps. Direct contact with the support desk - again a feature to paid members - generated useless advice and didn't fix the problems I was having. More »

ridewithgps.com
ridewithgps.com

My personal favorite of the more basic bike route mapping tools, I stumbled on this gem after experiencing great frustration with Mapmyride (see below). RidewithGPS.com offers the usual route mapping tools, including the elevation charts, the ability to auto-follow roads or if you turn it off, to go direct point-to-point. Other options allow users to create and define landmarks, including title, URL and description. These can then be included with the cue sheet, or not, as desired. Here is an example of a route I created for a ride this fall. Finally, I was most pleased with the basic membership which offers unlimited PDFs of your routes for just $6.00/mo.

They offered spectacularly responsive customer service, replying almost immediately when I sent a question in to the support line. Additionally, ridewithGPS.com is continually working to improve the site, adding upgrades and seeking user suggestions for enhancements. More »

Gmap-pedometer

This site is the best if you just plan to stick to the simple task of mapping your favorite routes. It's basic and clean very user-friendly, but a main disadvantage is that it does not offer a stored database of saved routes. You have to either create an account or save a link to your map to be able to recall it later. If you save it as a public map (i.e., not in your account) it cannot be modified later. More »

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Bikely.com logo

Features clear, easy drawing tools.  This site offers a search feature that will produce specific bike routes mapped by users around the world based on your input. Bikely.com requires that you join to use many functions of the site, but there is no fee to register. Best feature: routes can be marked with tags like "scenic," "low traffic," "steep" and the like so you know what you are getting into. Plus users can upload photos to show the highlights of their favorite routes and give others a preview. More »

Veloroutes.org
Veloroutes.org.

The personal project of a software engineer and cyclist in Seattle, one thing that makes this mapping tool stand out is the KML output that ties to Google Earth, allowing you to feed your route to that program.

Additionally, Veloroute's mapping tool offers weather reports coupled with live webcams positioned in selected cities so that you can get a sense for conditions in realtime. Other markers show the location of steep hills and danger spots.

Downside: more routes and user input are needed to make these snazzier features relevant and useful to riders outside of Seattle and a couple of other spots where most are presently clustered.

Features of Veloroutes:  

  • save/share/find bicycle routes
  • discover new hills, good/bad bicycle routes
  • download routes in KML (Google Earth) and GPX (for GPS devices) formats
  • get elevation data for the world, topo maps for the US
  • generate cue sheets for your rides 
More »