Tips from The Trail

​​These tips were submitted by experienced Top Trail members in advance of the Nebraska Horse Trail Riding Expo of March 2017 where we presented a seminar titled, "Riding With Your GPS." Would you like to add your knowledge and experience to this page? Email your tips today.

Contributed by A. Willett

  • Use app while in airplane mode, so even if you are in an area with poor cell service, the app works - and saves on your battery!
  • Have compared the ending stats of (my) a ride (recorded with app) with my husband's expensive stand alone GPS and they both report similar results from the trail.
  • Can save tracks so that you can go back and ride the same trail and keep track of where you are.
  • EasyTrails for iPhone: - SO EASY to upload my trail to the Top Trail site - just wish I could upload twice to both my husband's account and my account because we are always riding together and it would make it easy - so right now, I keep both my work phone (iPhone) and my personal phone (Android) with me so I can use one each for our separate accounts.
  • The Android version (EasyTrails), because it is so new, is a little more work to upload trails to the Top Trail site - I email it to myself, save the trail in my download folder on my computer and then can place it into one of our accounts on Top Trail.  Not hard, just a little more work. [Editor note: EasyTrails for Android will soon be be available with the updated version with the uploading feature to Open Trail (3/29/17)].
  • Can take pictures and mark waypoints while on the trail and view them later.
  • So, so easy to use - just get on your horse, open the app and hit start.  I always turn my screen off unless I need to look at the app because if you leave it on, it uses more battery - can simply open the screen to see information if needed, then close the screen $2.99, a one time fee, to get all the maps they have, but some come pre-loaded.  I must admit that this is where my use is weakest too, because I am not good with maps!

Contributed by S. Smith

  • I have used 2 different apps on my iPhone. The one I started with is View Ranger and I love it! Download the maps and put your phone into airplane mode so you don't waste battery, especially if you don't service anyway! The feature I like the most is the map overlay. It allows me to see where I have ridden in that area and follow it or branch out and explore more. You can set way points and it will help you navigate back to one if needed and it also works with my Apple Watch. Down side for me is that I do not have a computer to export the GPX file so I have to use Dropbox and the upload to the top trail website it's not hard just not quick! The 2nd one I just started to use is EasyTrails and so far I really like it especially how easy it is to upload my trail! It has a lot of the same features that ViewRanger has except the map overlay. 

Contributed by L. Otte

  • My GPS tip - Check your battery type setting. I failed to change my setting when I changed my batteries to a different kind. My GPS would die after 30-45mins. I was going to throw the stupid thing away until I contacted the company. They instructed me to try change the battery setting, now it lasts weeks on the same batteries. Contributed by L. Otte.

Contributed by R. Morris

  • As you know, I have carried a GPS device with me (from the start). I started with a Garmin eTrex Legend Cx. It worked great in most places, but I would get  erroneous tracks (it looked like a line  graph gone haywire) when riding between mountain ridges. I upgraded to a Garmin GPSMAP 64s, which has an external antennae, and haven’t had any problems. When I got my first Garmin, and tried to read the manual – I was lost.  Way too much information and a language I was not familiar with. So I pulled up the “how-to” on and had it figured out in a couple of minutes. I love reading maps, so I needed to figure out a program I could use, that would fit my needs, to upload my tracks to. As a data-geek, I love measuring tracks, viewing my speed, graphing elevation etc. Plus, I wanted to map out a trail before I ventured there. I purchased ExpertGPS on-line, for $19.95/year. I love it! What I love the most is exploring trails before I head out. I simply have to get near the trailhead, so I often work off of a prior track. With a touchscreen computer, I zoom in, can see the trails using satellite, and draw the track with my finger on the screen. As I can’t draw the entire trail in a single effort, I will have to “join” tracks as I progress. What I love about this option, especially for use in the back country, is I can measure distance along the trail and know exactly when I need to make a turn, and when not to make a turn. I can see the topography, spot places to water, and know how long and practical each trail is before heading out. I have mapped dozens of trails this way and have been spot on for the most part. I have gotten lost on a trail system where markers were physically removed and/or turned. Who does that I have added a 7-state sim card to my GPS device, that includes all of the trails, land ownership and distinguishes between private, BLM, forest, and state land. I have not been lost since and know exactly when I am on public lands. The few times I have forgotten to turn off my GPS, it was easily fixed after uploading to ExpertGPS. I simply highlight the track and cut the portion that was not ridden. This also works if a person wants to head into the arena or roundpen for a spell. You simply cut that portion out and the remaining track qualifies for Top Trail. As for stories along the trail, I was headed to Crow Lake with a few friends – had never been there.  We came to an intersection – had to make a choice – but weren’t sure. So I changed the page from track to map, and was able to scroll ahead to see if the turn was for Crow Lake – and it was. You can tell by the topography and shape of the lake, plus you can see how far you are from your target.  There was another lake further down, Sylvan Lake, but it looks very different. I am not sure if you would have that level of detail with out the maps on the simcard.