A new app provides real-time information on Central Wash’s trails.
PORTLAND, Oregon (KOIN) – The hiking season is well underway in the Pacific Northwest and there is a new app for outdoor enthusiasts who want to explore some of Washington State’s most popular trails.
“We had this pandemic which created this need to get out,” said Mat Lyons, president of Trails, leisure, education, advocacy, development or TREAD, a non-profit organization whose primary goal is to connect the people who maintain and use public lands.
With the Washington Tourism Alliance and Dharma Cards, TREAD recently released its TREAD Map Pilot App, which will provide real-time trail and recreation data, updates and advisories throughout Spring and Summer 2021 in downtown Washington. The application is currently operational in Kittitas, Grant, Douglas, Chelan and Okanagan counties, where heavy use of public lands is expected during the summer season.
Last year, while looking for ways to have fun while still socially distancing themselves, tons of people flocked to downtown Washington to see natural sights, but in some places crowds have become a problem.
“We know that some trails have been loved to death. Others and other places of recreation haven’t seen as much business as the communities around them would have liked, ”said David Blanford, executive director of the Washington Tourism Alliance.
The Washington Tourism Alliance has partnered with the creators of the TREAD Map app to help manage the flow of visitors and protect trails statewide, like Stuart Lake Trailhead near Leavenworth, the gateway to the Enchantments and Colchuck Lake.
“This trail has gone from a single track trail now to doubling its width because there is so much traffic you are passing people all the time,” Lyons said.
Now, local land managers are involved in the deployment of the app, issuing their own alerts for visitors to the trails they patrol.
“We tell them what to expect when they get here and explain, ‘Hey, if the parking lot is full, maybe you can have a plan B? And then we can suggest, “Five miles from here is another starting point.” Ten miles from here is another. It’s very hyper-local information in this place, and they know it and the rest of us don’t, ”Lyons said.
Despite its functionality, Lyons said the app was not for the “trail blazer”. Unlike other popular hobby apps, you can’t record your own track or stray from legal tracks.
“We have the public back-end which gives the real-time information and the authentic information,” he said.
This includes filters for trail use and access to the campsite. There are several map layers that users can turn on and off. There is even real-time air quality and forest fire limits information.
Lyons said the app is updated as soon as land managers increase their available maps.
There is also information from other users that offers real-time updates on amenities and trail conditions.
“You come across a fallen tree, you can literally open the app, press a button that says’ Fallen tree,” and now everyone knows the tree has fallen, ”Lyons explained.
Even posts from nearby businesses will appear on the app’s community calendar. The WTA is hoping this could help attract customers to businesses in the state’s small towns.
“Give back to these local places so they can use the money to help improve their assets and protect them even more,” Lyons said. “When you educate everyone and people protect the places they love to visit, that’s what it is. ”
The WTA encourages people to use the app through marketing campaigns and has stated that the more people use and engage with the app, the better the user experience will be. They said the app would soon roll out across the state of Evergreen.