[Cdt-l] Etrex 20/30 Set-up

Frank Gilliland frankgilliland at gmail.com
Tue Jan 21 16:08:35 CST 2014

Retry posting>>>>>>>>>>>2nd try

I hope this works by posting from a cut and paste.  If not go to:


…...scroll to the bottom and download the Word file……

This is my brain trying to put down in to words how I set-up a Garmin Etrex 20 GPS

Warning:  you are about to enter the strange world of my geeky thoughts!!!!!!!

So, I take no responsibility of you getting lost and confused in MY logic!




This is my Etrex 20 work-flow for set-up.  You may/WILL need to tweak as needed!!!!

1.     Get a Garmin Etrex 20 or 30 gps and load maps onto it.  I loaded all of the Western US maps into the internal memory of a Garmin Etrex20.  Load your map(s) following the map software instructions and/or go to the Garmin web site for a map loading program: http://www8.garmin.com/support/mappingsw.jsp  You can purchase a map package from Garmin or your retailer.  (I suggest the TOPO US 100K.  I think that the 24k series is an expensive way to go).  I prefer the DVD version and would never choose the pre-loaded SD card version because you need the Micro SD card slot for loading data – see step two!  (NOTE: you can also load FREE maps from the internet.  This option is at your own risk!)

2.     Purchase an empty micro sd card. (I use an 8gb)  (DO NOT INSTALL IN THE GPS YET!)

3.     Load 2 AA batteries (I prefer Lithium) into the Etrex20 and turn on.

4.     IMPORTANT STEP:    Go to: Setup>System>USB Mode and select Garmin.  This is my preferred setting.  Now each time you plug in your GPS to your computer’s USB port, your GPS will ask “Would you like to go to Mass Storage?)  Yes - turns your GPS into an external drive and SD card reader.  No - will turn on your GPS and use the power from the USB port.  If you don’t make this setting change then each time you plug in your GPS it will default to Mass Storage Mode.

5.     Go to: Setup>System>Battery Type and choose your battery type.  I prefer Lithium batteries.   Turn off the gps and take out the batteries. 

     Now install the Micro SD card and re-install your batteries.

6.     Turn on your GPS

7.     Go to: Setup>Tones select Off (Unless you like the sounds)

8.     Go to: Setup>Display>Colors>Mode and select Day  (I don’t like night mode)

9.     Go to: Setup>Tracks>Track Log and select Do Not Record (You can play with this later)

10.  Go to: Setup>Map>Orientation and select North Up

11.  Go to: Setup>Map>Advanced Map Setup choose Auto Zoom - Off

12.  Go to: Setup>Map>Advanced Map Setup>Zoom Levels>User points (I chose 50mi for all options shown) you can change later.  If you choose a lower number, you will have to zoom in more to see your tracks, and point files.

13.  Go to: Setup>Map>Advanced Map Setup>Text Size  (I chose “medium” for all options)

14.  Go to: Setup>Map>Advanced Map Setup>Detail (I like “Less”)

15.  Go to: Setup>Map>Advanced Map Setup>Shaded Relief (I chose “Do Not Show”)

16.  Go to: Setup>Map>Map Information (Scroll to and Enable your map (if loaded).  You will see other maps shown that are the base maps, leave them enabled)

17.  The rest of the options are by default correct or can be tweaked later.  Turn off your GPS.

18.  Plug your powered off GPS into your computer using the USB cable.  Your GPS will power up.

19.  Select YES for the question “Would you like to go to Mass Storage?  (OPTION: A MUCH faster file transfer can be done directly to the Micro SD card if you have a Micro SD card adapter that can connect directly to the computer)

20.  Now we will load the Track files onto the Micro SD card installed in the gps.  With a Windows Machine choose My Computer to find the Micro SD card.  Shown as a “Removable Disc  (a letter)”  Open that drive and create a folder and name it: Garmin.  Open the folder >Garmin.  Create a Folder and name it:  GPX  - Now locate the downloaded .gpx file(s) of the track files of your choosing.  Move or copy into this GPX file one or all four of the state’s “CDT and alternates” files.  You can add other .gpx track files and .gpx waypoint files here.

WARNING:  The Garmin Etrex20/30 will also show up as a drive.  You can load GPX, POI and Map files directly to the internal memory.  For a matter of fact I chose to load my maps directly onto the Etrex20 internal memory.  This may happen automatically depending on the method you used to load your maps.  This may be your preferred method if you use the pre-loaded SD card maps.  Just be careful not to load duplicate files.  Unplug/Eject the GPS.  

21.  Turn on your GPS.

22.  Go to: Track Manager and select which tracks you want active by choosing “Show on Map”  All of the other options tend to mess things up.  “View Map” is to be avoided!  It only seems like a good idea to only have the track(s) active that you need.  This should speed up the page refresh process.   

23.  Turn off the GPS and then plug it back into the USB cable to turn back on.  Select YES for the question “Would you like to go to Mass Storage?

24.  Now we will load the CDNST  POI file(s).  Note:  these files are provided by Jerry Brown and Bear Creek Survey.  He has posted an up-to-date POI file for the entire trail at:  http://www.bearcreeksurvey.com   
The format, and file structure is described on their web site.  Bear Creek also provides another method for loading his data.  There is a way to load multiple POI files by renaming the POI files (like one file for each state). That is up to you to do own your own.  Email me if this is unclear.  I may be able to help save you a lot of time!  You can create your own POI files from your waypoint files by going to Garmin’s website to download their POI conversion program:  http://www8.garmin.com/support/mappingsw.jsp

25.  If you have the POI file downloaded or created we will now load the POI file(s) onto the Micro SD card (or internal memory per Bear Creek instructions).  With a Windows Machine choose My Computer to find the Micro SD card.  It is shown as a “Removable Disc  (a letter)”  Open that drive and open the folder: Garmin.  Create a Folder and name it: Poi      Now locate your POI file(s).   It should be named Poi.gpi – Drag this file into the folder named Poi.  Unplug to turn off the gps. (Note:  if you use multiple POI files like one for each state, then keep in mind that one POI file must be named Poi.gpi, the other POI files can be then named:   name.gpi  )  WARNING:  The Garmin Etrex20/30 will also show up as a drive.  If you feel comfortable with it, you can even load some files into the internal memory of the gps.  (I loaded my map files there)

26.  There you have it.  You have a gps with the maps, tracks and POI files for your CDT hiking fun. 

27.  If you have a DeLorme (such as a PN-60) you can load .gpx files as well.  The above instructions should be adaptable to work on the Dakota, Oregon, Montana and GPSMAP series.  But check your model for size limitations and the location of settings will be different.  Yes, Garmin does make it very difficult to do even basic operations, and they do a lousy job of explaining even these most basic of operations.  
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