23 September 2021

How to setup a basic urban Scavenger Hunt
Clue - Man from Snowy River

Firstly, Setup your track/ route/ path.

You can setup a basic Urban Scavenger Hunt path or track, by using Google Maps. There is a really useful way to draw a track on the map, work out how long it is and also save it, so you can share it or refer to it anytime.

If you’re still wondering why you’d want to setup a trail or path for your group to explore, then check out our “so you want to setup a Scavenger Hunt” post about what you’ll need to consider.

Then you can come back here!

How to make a Custom Path in Google Maps

Google Maps does come with a few limitations. For example, you’ll have to use the default landscapes they give you. You can customise the map by adding other elements, including new locations, routes, and shapes. You’ll also have to use Google Maps on your desktop to create maps.

And you will need a Google account!

So, having that in place, let’s go:

1. Open the Google Maps website in your desktop browser and sign in with your Google account.
2. Open the Menu from the top left corner of your screen.

3. Click on Your Places

Google Maps Your Places Menu

4. Then under Your places, select Maps > Create Map.

5. A new Google Map will open with your custom location.

6. Select Untitled Map in the upper-left corner of the screen, type in your new map’s title and description. Select Save to confirm.

Now you can customise your new Google Map.

After you choose a title for your new map, you can start customising it by adding custom paths and elements to it, including layers, markers, shapes, and directions.

To start customising your map, you need to be in the map editor window and have the new map open.

Map Layers

Your custom map is made up of layers. The bottom layer is the Base map. You can change the look of your map by changing the Base map layer.

Click on the Base map button at the bottom of the menu. Then select your preferred look.

When you create a new custom map, you have an Untitled Layer added to it by default. Create an entire map using just one layer or add more layers as you need.

A multi-layered map allows you to separate different trails and paths for later access. So you can have multiple trips or paths planned on the same custom map.

To add a new layer to your custom map, select Add layer on top of the menu.

You can remove or rename layers on your custom map at any time. To delete a layer, select the three vertical dots next to it to open the menu. Then select Delete this layer. There’s also an option to Rename this layer and show Step-by-step directions in the same menu.


A map marker is a pin that marks a certain location or landmark on your map. Markers are useful when you need to share the exact location of a place, or when you need to add comments or additional notes for a location.

To add a marker to your map, navigate to the address or landmark that you want to pin. Then select Add marker from the toolbar located under the search bar.

In the pop-up window, fill in the description of your map marker: name and description. There’s also an option to Add image or video to make your marker more personal. When you’re finished, press Save.

You can edit your marker anytime after you add it to your map. You can change its name, description, style, as well as show directions on your map.

An advanced feature of Google Maps, allows each layer on the map to import a data or spreadsheet file, so you can import a path or series of points from other Google Maps, into your own map. This can include a whole range of descriptors and data points.

We’ll feature how to do this (and why you’d want to) in a later post.

Lines & Shapes

The next feature we want to add to our map, is a line or shape. This will let us setup our walking or Treasure Hunt trail and will give us detailed distance information. We can also highlight areas on the map with shapes or stars.

To add a line or a shape to your custom map, select Draw a line from the toolbar located under the search bar.

You can then edit this shape after you place it on your map and press Save. You can change its name, description, style (width and colour), add an image or a video to it. You can also change the path and points by selecting a corner or node and moving it. You can also delete the whole tracks with the trashcan.

Next Steps

You can see on the path above, that it has a distance of 5.69 km and to the right are the icons you use to edit the line.

Using this method of placing pins where you want to make clues and making the path follow the route you want your players to take, will enable you to accurately estimate the distance and time involved, plus you can fine-tune the path, if you wish.

How to Share Your Custom Map

When you finish making custom routes in Google Maps and adding elements to your map, it’s automatically saved to your Google Maps account in Your Places.

To access your new map, follow the path Google Maps menu > Your Places > Maps.

After you finish editing and adding to your map, by default, you’re the only one who can view it until you share it with other people.

To share your custom map, in Your Places menu select See All Your Maps. This will take you to the Google My Maps website. You’ll see your custom map (s) under Owned.

Finally, to give access to your map to another person, select Share map. You’ll see options to share your custom map via Facebook, Twitter, email, or embed it on your website.

To continue this How To series, we’ll post a follow up on what clues you should consider for a scavenger hunt and how to make them.
If we can help more, please post a comment.



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