A free app for smartphones has been developed that will help hikers navigate the more than 200 miles of trails on Martha’s Vineyard.
The TrailsMV app is being launched for iPhones June 2 and for Android phones later in the summer, Kate Warner, project manager for the app, told The Times. The app will include information on 110 trails spread all over the Island, including some gems on Chappaquiddick she didn’t know about before she started working on the project.
“It’s very exciting,” Warner said. “There are some beautiful properties I didn’t know existed.”
The app is exciting and complicated, Warner said. Sheriff’s Meadow has led the project, working collaboratively with the Land Bank and Chris Seidel of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, which provided mapping data.
According to a press release announcing the launch, the idea for the app arose during a hike of King’s Highway in Chilmark. Adam Moore, executive director of Sheriff’s Meadow, was hiking with Alan Rappaport when they became somewhat lost trying to find a side trail.
“It was about two or three years ago,” Moore told The Times. They were traveling an ancient way, trying to get from Brookside Ridge Preserve to Middle Road Sanctuary. “If you take the wrong side trail, you could wind up on private lands,” Moore said.
Eventually, the two men found their way, and an idea. “Alan said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if there was an app for this’,” he said. “Now there will be.”
The app uses the global positioning system, better known as GPS.
Warner said the app needs to be initially downloaded using Wi-Fi, but once you’re out on the trails, it runs off GPS and doesn’t require either cell service or Wi-Fi. In test runs of the app, the only times it doesn’t work is when there is an extensive tree canopy, she said.
“We’ve been slowly testing the trails — when I’m out, when Adam’s out. There will be glitches,” Warner said. “We definitely want to hear the feedback. There will be things to work out. It’s a very layered thing.”
TrailsMV uses GPS to pinpoint your location, show the direction in which you are headed, and guide you to your destination, according to the release. With the entire Island trail network mapped and described within the app, it shows you how to get from one property to the next without getting lost, which offers the opportunity for longer adventures and for exploring new trails.
The app includes photographs from more than 20 different photographers and information about each of the 110 properties, so someone who needs a flat trail can look ahead of time. Hours and policies on dogs are included, “which is of great interest to many people on the Island,” Warner said.
All Land Bank trails are marked with signs warning about ticks, but Warner said in her travels this year she hasn’t had much of an issue. “If you stay on the trail, I think it’s fine,” she said. “If you bushwack your way, it’s different.”
Hikers will also be able to share information and photographs on TrailsMV that might be helpful to others using the trails, Warner said. “It’s always going to be a work in progress,” she said.
Moore said the app was made possible by a collaboration that includes Sheriff’s Meadow, the Land Bank, The Trustees of Reservations, Vineyard Conservation Society, and local conservation commissions, as well as the MVC.
“To the hiker, it doesn’t necessarily matter whose land you’re on. One connects to the other,” Moore said. “You keep on hiking and that’s what you want. This is a seamless connection between them.”
The app makes getting lost or disoriented less likely.
“You can see where you are, which direction you’re headed,” Moore said. “You’ll have a guide to stay on the trail and explore the Island with confidence.”
The app is being launched with an event called “Explore the Vineyard: 22 Island Photographers Introduce TrailsMV,” from 5 to 7 pm on June 2 at Featherstone Gallery.