From the start Trailforks has been designed as a tool to benefit trail associations & builders, which in turn will create better data for the end trail user. At our founding we saw a need for trail associations to have a mapping platform they can control and benefit from. To reduce the burden of volunteer board members to create and maintain their own online maps & directories.
Rather than thousands of trail associations around the world creating their own custom solutions, duplicating efforts, we would build one global system they can use for free. So they can concentrate their valuable and limited time on building, maintaining and advocating for trails! This is also much better for the trail user, having a single consistant & reliable global platform and app.
Control The Message
We live in a digital age and the smartphone reigns supreme. Trailforks, Strava, Google Maps and many other digital mapping apps and tools have changed the mapping and navigation game. Most users see the benefit of a digital map and wouldn't choose to go back to a paper map or guide book. The wealth of interactive information, live updates, GPS location and safety features is too beneficial and easier to use.
It's all too easy for communities to become gatekeepers for their local trails or sport. Everyone should have the right to enjoy the great outdoors, no matter their background or current skill. We as a society can all benefit from people leading heathier & more active lives. Our sports and advocacy can benefit from increased participation when meeting with land managers and goverments. People resistant to online mapping often are worried about lost revenue from legacy physical map products, increased exposure, or possible user conflict. If these are concerns of yours we hope to show you that the Trailforks platform provides benefits that can outweight or offset these concerns.
The NSMBA has it right "Trails For All, Trails Forever".
Thinking that your trails shouldn't be "online" in these modern times is backwards thinking. If you're trying to protect some physical map product by keeping trails offline you're denying users of many benefits in forcing them to use a dying product. People are increasing confortable and expecting to have maps on their phones, especially the younger generations. Even before Trailforks, sales of physical maps and books were on the decline and not a sustainable source of funds to run a club from.
Whether mapped on OSM, Google, Strava or some other trail app, trails will eventually find their way online.. These other platforms offer very little control of how the trail is presented or a way to manage the trail info and benefit from the data collected. So why not map the trail on Trailforks, a platform that gives control of how the information is presented and gain many other benefits.
With Trailforks we focus on giving the local trail association control to present the trail data as they see fit, every region has their own priorities or local nuances. Trailforks is also a dominate trail mapping platform that most users will look to first and might not bother looking at uncontrolled platforms like OSM or Strava where the data can't be controlled as well.
Give the Local Trail Association & Builders Credit
Many visitors or even new local riders might not know about your local trail association, what it's called, or how to supprt the trails they just enjoyed.
Trailforks gives exposure to the local trail associations with the largest world-wide directory of advocacy groups. On the details page of a trail the local trail association is listed with logo and website link, encouraging users to join. A link to donate 'trail karma' is also shown.
Trailforks tracks which trails a user rides and what regions they travel too. Trailforks then suggests places the user should donate too and a suggested amount based on how many trails they rode.
Builders and supporters of the trail can also be listed giving them credit for their hard work and support.
If your region has a Trail Pass it can be added to the local products database and it will be promoted on region & trail pages as well.
Collect Trail Usage Statistics
Users record their activities using the Trailforks app, or connect their Strava or Garmin accounts to Trailforks to import their activities. Trailforks scans millions of these activity GPS tracks and matches them against trails mapped in our database to determine which trails a user rode, hiked or skied. Trailforks then generates statistics for each trail, region & city using this and other demographic data.
These trail statistics can be a valuable tool in trail advocacy, seeking grants and trail planning.
This trail usage data is also used to determine the most popular trails in a region and suggest content to the user.
Increase User Safety and SAR Effectiveness
Trailforks has proven to be a valuable tool in assisting Search and Rescue (SAR) response to incidents. If your trails aren't mapped, the usefulness is much less.
The Trailforks app has a prominent energency page, that will display a user's current location, but also the nearest trail to them. This can be valuable information to emergency dispatch.
SAR responders can use the Trailforks maps to navigate the trail network finding the closest access point and best way to reach the incident. SAR personnel can gain access to special Trailforks features to plot the incident location on a map, see recent incidents on the map and with special permission view illegal trails on the map for better navigation.
Trail reporting is one of the core features of Trailforks and one which we provide a lot of functionality around. To utilize the trail reporting features, the trails need to be added first, then you can inform users of trail closures and conditions. Users can in return submit reports letting managers and builders know of issues on the trail.
Trail reports can be created offline in the app with geo-tagged photos. Then sycned when back in cell-coverage. Reports can be scheduled, made in bulk, filtered, notified and much more.
Entire regions can be opened or closed via a regional admin dashboard.
Logging Trail Work
Trail reports can be used to log work done to trails whether it's a trail day or a lone builder fixing some issues. We believe there is great value in showing the average user how much time and effort goes into maintaining and builing trails.
The amount of hours and attendees helping with the work can be tracked. Work report history for a trail or an entire region can be filtered and searched, providing a record of trail maintenance. Hours can be logged for both volunteer and paid work. Reports can be marked private so only region admins can view.
Region admins have access to a work report summary tool, which allows the export of summarized work data filtered by date range. Which can be useful for sending to land managers.
Open Street Map is the Wild West
whether you like it or not, trails will often get mapped on OSM. Which is fine and has it's uses, but it's hard to control and is not a good source of "truth". You can't approve or reject what gets posted and anyone can edit anything at any-time. While anyone can edit trails on Trailforks, we have a multi-layered decentralized approval process. Where we try and give control to the local trail association or power users. There is also inconsistent meta-data tagging of trails on OSM and of course it's not an interactive map.
Same with Strava, one can not control what segments are created. Segments can't be edited or improved. Segments can only be flagged and hopefully after much time removed if need-be.
Flagging of Sensitive Rides
Adding illegal/secret/sensitive trails and marking them hidden allows us to detect user's ridelogs along any "hidden" trails and flag that ridelog as "sensitive". The hidden trails won't be shown in the list of trails ridden, the ridelog map will be hidden and this message will be displayed on that ridelog.
Unfortunately many people don't have enough personal discretion to make certain rides in sensitive areas private, so we do it for them!
Another important reason to map illegal trails and have ridelogs that include them flagged, is those ridelogs will no longer be suggested to users in the Trailforks app when a user views another trails rides. Trailforks also has a feature where we try and determine the most popular routes in a region based on user's ridelog data, ridelogs flagged sensitive because they matched to a hidden trail will not be included in the recommended route algorithm.
Manage Trail Data & Sensitive or Illegal Trails
There are lots of trails in a grey area around the world. Regions will have different policy towards sensitive or unsanctioned trails, so Trailforks doesn't enforce a standard, each local trail association can decide on how much info for these trails to allow online.
Trails can still be public but marked "unsanctioned", so the trail associations name will be removed from the trail and a red disclaimer shown.
Sensitive trails can be added to Trailforks and marked as "hidden", so only region administrators with "view hidden trails" permission can see them. Now when a user trys to add a trail where the GPS track closely matches a trail in the database that is marked as "hidden", the user will get a big red warning.
Mapping hidden trails also allows us to block out the areas around them from our heatmap features.
And finally having a hidden trails mapped still allows ride usage data to be collected for it, which could effect advocacy decisions.
Reduce User Conflict
The best way to reduce user conflict on trails is through education! Signage is often a luxury and is only useful once physically on the ground, not for planning a trip. How can one be upset if a moto user rides a mountain bike trail, or a biker rides a hiking trail if they don't know the trails allowed use. Same goes for the intended direciton of a trail. Having the trails mapped and documented puts the burden on the user to educate themselfes, in a consistant single location no matter where they travel too. Also can be useful in handling in-person disputs on the trail by showing the user the mapped data on the Trailforks map.
Eliminate or reduce misperceptions and spread of misinformation!
Polygons can also be added to the map, to show things like private property, mass fire closures or areas certain user groups cannot access.
Redistribution of Users
Having trails mapped on Trailforks makes it easy to edit the trails or add reports to them changing the trails open/closed status. To close down a trail or area or redirect users to different areas. Or temporarily remove a trail from the map for various reasons, changing users planning decisions, especially if they're visitors. Or highlight specific trails you rather visitors ride with curated routes.
Promote Trail Days
Trailforks has a free global events calendar where trail days can be posted and linked to trails. To help promote users to attend and help dig.
Create More Accurate Maps
You may have an old PDF map, or your own GPX/KML files that were probably collected from a single GPS device sample. Adding trails to Trailforks you can increase the accuracy of the gps tracks over time. Using the power of crowd-sourcing, data and our tools. One such tool is our 'ride guides' layer when editing a trails points, which shows color-coded user's ride data, to help you modify the points. And help identify trail re-routes or new trail braids.
Trailforks also detects messy GPS tracks that cross themselves, or overlap other trails. These flagged for cleanup trails can then by edited and improved by the community or admins.
Collect Trail Direction Data
We analyze the millions of users gps'ed activities to determine which direction trails are being used. This data can help with trail planning or signage.
Create Print Maps
While you may have an existing physical map or PDF map, it can be hard and costly to maintain. Your trail association might not have the expertise to create one, or the person who did left. Trailforks has a robust print map tool to export our map data to a range of formats, including vector data.
If you want to provide physical maps or PDF maps, you can use Trailforks as the source of "truth" and use our self-serve tool to generate the assets to create physical maps. Allowing you to easily update the maps.
The print tool can also be used to help create large kiosk maps, or smaller trail sign maps. Reducing costs & time for GIS solutions or outsourcing the work.
Receive Donations via Trail Karma
At Trailforks we want to change the culture of trail use and give back to folks who really make trails happen in each community. The Trail Karma program makes it easy to donate directly to a region and in turn the local Trail Association. The local trail association with karma donate link is displayed on each trail page.
Power Trail Adoption Programs
The Trailforks trail supporters feature is here to help local trail associations manage and promote their own adopt-a-trail type programs.
We believe this is one of the best models for local groups to attain funding for trail maintenance and construction. The basic premise is to have local business sponsor a trail for a year. The details on this model will differ from region to region. Some like North Vancouver's "TAP" program will pair the sponsor with a trail builder and the sponsor will also be required to provide volunteers for trail days. Where as other regions might prefer to accept just the monetary support and pay local trail builders to do the work. Or the support can be used to fund supplies for the trail maintenance.
Plan & Promote Races
whether large regional race series or small local ones, we have features to make planning and promoting the event easier. Running small local races is often a great source of revenue for bike clubs, but can often take a lot of time to pull-off, so reducing that work-load is key.
After the trails are mapped, race organizers can use the route planner to test out possible race course options. If need be send passworded route to land manager for approval before making public.
Once a race is planned, it can also be posted to our events calendar for free promotion. Link the route to the event for easy access on race-day.
On race day the trails in a race route can also automatically be marked as closed, informing other users.
Reduce the waste of printed maps, view the race on the Trailforks app!
Plan Trail Heads & Parking
Trailforks has an interactive heatmap that only shows the spot where users have hit record on their GPS or Smartphone. The Ride Start Heatmap is great to see which parking lots are being used. Using the heatmap. you can identify potential conflict areas early on, perhaps identifying the need for new parking lots, trailheads or climbing trails.
Trailforks is a growing crowd-sourced moderated database, if your riding association can provide any trail data like descriptions, gps tracks or photos, it is much appreciated! In return any of this data is available to riding associations for free via the website, rss feeds, widgets or the API.
Trailforks also has various admin pages where data can be exported. From raw trail report data, trail work summary data, trail check-in data or GPX/KML of trails in region. All of which can help with reports to land managers or governments, or seeking new funding sources.
For the less technical Trailforks has a wide range of customizable embeddable widgets you can use on your website.
A read & write REST JSON API is available for programmers to interact with Trailforks.
API documentation is available here.
Many pages on Trailforks.com have RSS feeds, if the page has a feed there is an RSS icon in the bottom right of the page.
Association region admins can have access to export all the trails in a region as KML, GPX or OSM files.
Help Users Have a Better Time
Trailforks is so much more than just a simple map with lines. Users can enjoy researching trails with the wealth of meta-data, viewing photos & videos. They can not waste time on trails that are not ridden, not maintained or have a current issue. They can find out what the most popular trails are using the power of data that Trailforks collects on trail usage.
Trails and the map is only the first step, showing recommended routes can greatly increase users experience. Whether it's curated routes, or Trailforks generated ones from our ridelog data and trail popularity, finding ways to link up and ride trail networks is awesome.
Users can also map out their own personal routes and sync them to their Trailforks app or Garmin devices.
Getting lost sucks, having the trails mapped on Trailforks gives the user reassurance they can navigate out with their phones GPS.
Have More Fun
Trailforks has a robust badge system where users can earn digital badges for riding trails. This can be a fun way to engage your community or run special events. Badges are unlocked by recording your activity and meeting a local badges criteria. The criteria can be linked to specific trails or types of trails.
Leaderboards are also present for trails, check out who has the fastest times or try and improve your own. Leaderboards can be disabled on a per-trail or region basis.
Leaderboard times are also used to calculate the average time it takes to ride a trail.
Trailforks is owned by Outside a trusted name in the outdoor sports community that has the resources to make the project a success and ensure its longevity. Trailforks is fast, powered by the Pinkbike data-center and created using the performance-focused Pinkbike framework that can handle millions of users. Unlike other trail websites, Trailforks is not cluttered and slowed down by advertisements!
You can trust that Trailforks won't suddenly shutdown one day, like other small regional trail and mapping sites have. You can rely on Trailforks being maintained unlike building your own online maps for your clubs website, which can see a loss of expertise with turn-over in board members, or can get outdated.
A Familiar App
Trailforks has been growing very rapidly since 2014 and has become the most used trail app for mountain biking. As we expand to other sports users that participate in multiple sports will already be familiar with many of the features and the UI of the popular app.Source: mbta.ca
Proven Track Record
Trailforks has grown to be the dominant trail discovery and mapping app for mountain biking with over 500,000 trails mapped and growing fast. We started with mountain biking and have learned a lot along the way that can now help other sports. Some of these new activities don't have popular mapping apps and are slow to the digital age, kind of like mountain biking was back in 2012-2015 when Trailforks was starting. But through working with trail associations, users and other stakeholders we have built a robust platform and worked out many of the issues and needs that can apply to any user-group.
Trailforks is a user-powered database, users can help grow & maintain the database. We then reach out to local trail associations and give them control of the content in their region, so they can curate the content. Locals become the moderator of what trails should be public or hidden, because they know best. Different regions have different policies so Trailforks is a flexable platform.
You can add your trail association or group to our directory to get started. Then start mapping your trails or adding further information to existing trails. View our help section for articles and demo videos on many aspects of contributing data to Trailforks.
- A Trail Association's First Steps on Trailforks
- Building an Army of Official Trail Reporters
- How Can Profesional Trail Builders Use Trailforks?