If you mountain bike on trails or hike trails Trailforks app is a must-have app. Know where you are at all times. I use this app almost every time I hit the trails on my bike or on foot.
Getting lost hiking or biking or doing anything else sucks. It can be scary too.
We live on the North Shore which is a series of towns and districts north of Vancouver. It’s basically along the lower part of a mountain range.
Often we hear and see the North Shore Search & Rescue helicopter overhead which means they’re on a mission. Each year they execute on average 79 search and rescue operations on the North Shore mountains. The numbers of folks who get lost on trails worldwide each year must be staggering.
It’s no surprise given the North Shore is serious terrain. Check it out:
Those mountains are absolutely loaded with hiking and biking trails.
Not only that but various mountain biking organizations create some really cool terrain, bridges, paths, etc. such as:
One way to avoid getting lost and having a way better ride is by using the Trailforks app.
Trailforks is my favorite trail app. I use it hiking and biking.
When we first moved to the North Shore, I didn’t bother downloading it. One day hiking with my at the time 3-year-old son, I got lost. Fortunately, I hadn’t ventured too far. I knew if I went downhill, I’d end up at a road. Sure enough, we did just that.
That incident prompted me to download and become familiar with the Trailforks app.
It’s easy-to-use, FREE, and the amount of detail is awesome.
Key Benefits of the Trailforks App
Cover more terrain (because you know where you’re going)
This is huge. It’s not much fun constantly worrying while biking or hiking that you’ll get lost. Given the size of the trail network literally 100 steps from our house, it’s easy to get lost.
On a mountain bike I can cover way more ground which means I can get lost that much faster.
The Trailforks app ensures I know where I’m located within the trail network at all times. Not only do I avoid getting lost but I can venture into new territory confident I’ll find my way home.
Avoid getting lost
I’ve mentioned this already but it’s really important. It’s one thing to benefit by being able to venture out further, but it’s another ballgame if an app can actually save your life by preventing you from getting lost.
Yes, people have died on the North Shore mountains from getting lost. It’s more often a result of skiing out-of-bounds in winter (there are 3 ski resorts on the North Shore) but hikers and mountain bikers have run into serious problems as well.
The app includes an Emergency Info page that provides your exact location to emergency responders. This saves lives.
Bike at your level
As you can see in the mountain bike trail map above, the trails are different colors. Those colors indicate a different level of skill needed. Black is the most difficult while green the easiest. Blue is in the middle. I’m good on green and blue. Black is beyond me. Black trails are cliffs and craziness.
Map your rides and hikes
Trailforks can map and record your rides and hikes. This isn’t my thing. I don’t really care about it. I don’t have the time to review my adventures so I don’t bother but I know many folks like tracking their recreational and fitness pursuits.
You can check out trail alerts in the app to see if there are any problems/hazards with any trails you’re considering heading out on. This can save you from having to turn around or worse.
My favorite Trailforks feature
Of course, the detailed trail maps are awesome, but what I really love about this app is that you can actually see yourself move on a trail. This way you know where you are at all times in relation to the absolute maze of trails that we journey regularly.
It’s all well and good to have a map with you but if you don’t know where you are on the map, it’s not helpful. Trailforks solves that problem with GPS tech.
Check it out – the blue dot is me in my current location (my office):
Trailforks is for more than just mountain biking
Trailforks is on a mission to provide trail information for many recreational pursuits including skiing, hiking, horseback riding, and more.
Here’s a list of current trail guides in the app:
Trail maps wherever you are
If you’re traveling, you can use Trailforks to suggest local trails for all the activities listed. For this use the “Discover” feature. When you click on it, listings of local trails and routes are listed.
Here’s what it looks like:
How many trails are mapped?
A lot. Currently, the Trailforks website says it’s mapped 278,373 trails and 9,000 trail networks in 95 countries.
Does Trailforks display on and work on an Apple smartwatch?
No, it doesn’t which is one failing of the app. I have an Apple smartwatch and would love the integration of this app so that I can see maps on the Apple smartphone.
Available in iOS and Android (Google Play) app stores
There are versions for both iOS and Android-based phones.
It’s free. That’s insane. They prompt you to donate to local organizations but that’s it.
Note, if you use apps like this, you definitely want a bicycle phone mount like this.