Mapping Trails and Paths for Hiking & Biking

Learning Objectives

Back from a hike where you discovered a new trail and would like to share it with others? Or as an avid biker would you like to share your local bike paths and bike-friendly roads with others?


Using Map Maker you can add all this information on maps and help bike and hike enthusiasts easily discover new and cool paths to use for a healthy commute or to just relax and unwind. In this quick guide, we’ll tell you how to map biking and hiking trails and paths, and point you to more detailed information that you will need along the way.

Two different kinds of bike and hike paths

You can map Hike/Bike paths both in the concrete jungle as well as away from the hustle & bustle of civilization.

  • On-road Hike/Bike Path:  These are typically mapped as a part of regular roads that have vehicular traffic; in the real world, their separation from the road is sometimes indicated by a painted divider or a physical barrier like a sidewalk/pavement.
  • Off-road Hike/Bike path: These are usually drawn in non-urban locations and are preferred by bikers / hikers on their excursions. Though off-road bike/hike paths can exist even in a city across a park, or between buildings,

In MapMaker, you can use the Trail/Path linear feature to mark off-road paths and create on-road hike paths by directly editing the road attributes. You can also fill in additional details about urban and off-road bike paths like suitability for cycles/pedestrians, the condition of the path, the surface type etc. Filling these details can help Google Maps generate appropriate riding/walking directions for these paths.

Starting off

Use one of the Map Maker search options to find the location of the bike path / trail you would like to map. You can also locate the area using the browse and navigate features on Map Maker.

Found the area you wanted to map? Great! Now let’s walk you through marking that trail, the end point of which will see you becoming a citizen cartographer!

If you’re marking a bike/hike path on a road

  • You can select the road using select a segment tool
  • To edit the road click ‘Edit segment attributes’
  • Modify the following attributes using your knowledge of the path:
    • Bicycle access  : Select the type of access available to bicycles on the bike path. This helps generate biking directions
    • Bicycle suitability : Use this attribute to indicate how safe the bike path is for bicycles
    • Pedestrian access : Indicate the kind of pedestrian access available on the bike/hike path. This helps generate walking directions

  • Marking different attributes for different sides of the road
    • You can mark the Bicycle access, Bicycle suitability and Pedestrian access for either one or both sides of the road in the Bicycle and Pedestrian info section

Note: if the road on which you want to mark a bike/hike path is NOT already mapped, this user guide article can help you draw the road. You can then mark its bike and pedestrian attributes as given in the same article.

If you’re marking an off-road bike/hike path:

  • Before you begin marking your trail or path, make sure you turn on satellite view so that your drawing is accurate.
  • On Map Maker, click Draw a Line and choose Trail / Path from the drop down. Now go to the beginning of your trail and drop a point there. And then click along the trail, dropping as many points as needed to capture all the curves and twists of the trail precisely.

  • To finish drawing, double-click or press enter. Add details about the trail / path in the editing panel that appears on the left side.


In-context help for attributes in the left hand editing panel

  • Making loops in trails

To map trails which form a loop, draw at least two or more segments connected to form a circle/loop. Currently, you won't be able to draw a loop as a trail / path connected to itself - since Map maker doesn’t allow making edits on top of a pending edit.

  • Trails that start off or end in roads

Trails that start off or end in roads should connect to the road. While adding such trails, ensure that the trail intersects with the road. When properly intersected, both the trail and the road get highlighted.

  • For trails or Paths running parallel to an existing road:

If the bike route runs very close to a road, do not mark a separate trail but, add it as an attribute of the existing road.

This can be done by editing the Bicycle & Pedestrian Info section of the existing road.

  • For trails intersecting with sidewalks:

If a trail merges with a side walk of a road, draw the trail up to the side walk and then map the remaining portion as an attribute of the existing road.

It’s now over to the other Reviewers to review your content. This ensures that the information going live is error free and also gives you a feedback on how to make your edits better. Once they are approved,your edits are ready to go live on Maps .

Other Tips and Tricks

  • You cannot create line features longer than 5 kilometers/3 miles. Use the extension options for trails longer than this.
  • Sometimes there may be a couple of roads ending at an intersection. Be careful while extending a road from that intersection. Do select the correct road while extending else it may lead to inaccurate directions being generated.
  • While editing multiple road / trail segments - use the Select a segment tool.
  • When creating a long road, create more segments rather than less.
  • Drop more points as you draw the line since it helps you to get the road more accurately.
  • Zoom in close in Satellite view to be able model a road accurately on the map.

Enjoy mapping and happy trails!