Animating GPS tracks in Google Earth

When Google Earth version 4 was released back in 2006, it added a great feature that allowed KML files to have time-based data. This allows you to animate GPS content as Frank wrote about soon after.
We’ve seen great examples of this over the years, such as Google’s tips on sharing your ski trips or showing replays from a sailboat race.
I recently took the family to go sledding on the fake (but fun) snow at “Snow Mountain” a few weeks ago and recorded our tracks from a few runs on my MotoACTV watch.


You can play with those runs in Google Earth by grabbing the KML file or the raw GPX file (which Google Earth can also open).
While I was out there it brought to mind the excellent 3D model of the carving that Peter Olsen build a few years ago. When loading the GPS data into Google Earth, I noticed that most of the buildings in the area were now in 3D, including the cable car system.

The majority of these models were built by Bill Molony, who has done an excellent job of creating and texturing them in a very realistic way.
If you have any GPS data from a recent activity, try loading it into Google Earth and it’ll give you a whole new perspective on what you just did. If you have a particularly compelling track, feel free to share it with everyone in the comment section below.

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.


  1. How do you extract gps data from your phone? I would like to track my fishing spots. I use google maps to GPS. Is there a track of my route saved somewhere on phone?

  2. Fantastic
    Just wondering if the data can be extracted from apps like map my run, Runkeeper, Ghost Run, iMapMyRun etc
    I might look into this maybe for our Cross Country coming up

  3. GE has come a long way. I’m going to see if I can animate my flight routes from the data from my Garmin 696. I have used GE to recon and visualize approaches to airports that I have never landed to before.

  4. I’ve translated my GPS info from Garmin units for a couple of years now. Travelled through 5 countries last Spring on a bicycle. Excellent to get them into GE.

  5. Yes, the time stamps is a great feature. We use it since this option was introduced on live GPS/cellphone equipped deer (see Instructions how to make similar system for live animals/spot GPS trackers/ etc are here
    Great research and animation tool!

  6. Hi there! If you ever need a reliable and free conversion tool, you might try and see how it works. It does the conversion from gpx to kml file and vice versa, in case you need it. You can download your resulted file after the conversion process. Cheers!

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