What's the difference between "route" and "track" in terms of navigation? Is there a conceptual difference or only a technical one?

For example OruxMaps treats the two terms differently: enter image description here (source)

3 Answers 3


Waypoints, routes and tracks come from the GPX format specifications. The difference between routes and tracks is as follows:

  • Routes are simply a sequence of waypoints for navigation. For example, it can calculate the bearing or the distance to the next point.

  • Tracks are the actual recorded path. It is where you've been and when.

  • 1
    So a "route" is a private case of a "track"?
    – Sparkler
    Sep 4, 2016 at 22:26
  • Well, kind of, I think. They are both connected points that forms a line. They serves different purposes though. Sep 4, 2016 at 22:38
  • 2
    A route shows where you plan to go. A track shows where you actually went. Sep 5, 2016 at 3:23

1 A route shows where you plan to go. A track shows where you actually went. – Peter Bennett Sep 5 '16 at 3:23 This is Correct~!~


On Garmin units (and possibly non Garmin units), the difference is how you get from a Waypoint to the next Waypoint, with a Track the gap between Waypoints is always a straight line, With a Route the gap between Waypoints is 'routed' by following a road, path or other map feature and that map feature must be present, so Routes are map dependant, Tracks are not

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