AllTrails - Connecting People To The Outdoors & Each Other
AllTrails is a fitness and travel mobile app that facilitates a user-friendly experience for those who want to engage in outdoor recreational activities. The app aims to be inclusive of all people, regardless of their physical abilities and/or disabilities, and new features and improvements are implemented continuously to the app to improve accessibility of the app itself. Some of these features will be addressed later in this post under the accessibility section.
AllTrails is primarily designed for activities such as walking, running, hiking, mountain biking, climbing and snow sports. This app features over 60,000 trails in various countries and cities around the world. There are 43 million users who use AllTrails and it is ranked as the #1 outdoors app on both iOS & Android devices.
Once you open the app, you will be greeted by a list of nearby hiking, biking and running trails. While there are a lot of trail options to browse from, the trails that appear at the top of the list are ranked according to proximity, user’s reviews/satisfaction, and difficulty levels. Tapping on any of the trails will reveal a card that shows a short description of the trail along with important key descriptors of the trail, such as total distance, elevation gain, a full trail map, weather forecast, user reviews and pictures of the trail. Once you choose a trail, you can start right away by clicking on “navigate à start” and/or you can save it under favourites by tapping the heart icon.
AllTrails wants to facilitate a better experience for all users especially those who have disabilities or functional limitations. Accessibility starts by ensuring that the information provided to all users is accessible and that sufficient information about park features and services are delivered across to users.
In some of our stakeholder meetings with people with disabilities and their caregivers, we have learned that one of the first barriers to access is not knowing what accessibility features and services are available about parks and trails. AllTrails is a viable resource to help fill in some of those gaps.
One way AllTrails is helping users find the right trails is by integrating a tag system. AllTrails uses tags such as “wheelchair friendly, stroller friendly, paved, partially paved, etc.” to each trail that fits the criterion. Users can simply browse for trails using the tag system. This can be done by scrolling downwards on the explore page and clicking any of the icons under the “Browse by suitability” heading.
AllTrails also has a team specifically dedicated to audit the wheelchair friendly tag to ensure it is applied appropriately to the trails on their app. In a recent conversation with the AllTrails team about the wheelchair friendly tag, we have received some insights on the rigorous system that AllTrails follows to ensure that the tag is audited appropriately. The AllTrails team expressed the following:
"We rely heavily on the photos and comments that users submit to determine surface type/width/firmness/trail obstacles, as well as we can edit our trail maps to be more accurate and estimate the grades by tracing heatmaps (overlays of all the trail recordings that users have done) and satellite imagery. We also do a lot of online research and contacting local parks and recreation departments to find out the details about a trail or other outdoor experiences. We have database queries which bring in any comments or suggested edits that have accessibility keywords so we can review those daily and quickly catch any information that was estimated incorrectly."
AllTrails aims to improve its auditing strategies by extracting accurate data from users who identify as being disabled. One way they can gather better data is by making use of the GPS recording capability found within the app. This will help in developing more comprehensive datasets and it will allow for AllTrails to better evaluate the accessibility of trails and provide users with more accurate information.
AllTrails and Canada’s National Parks:
The AllTrails team, users and community have collectively ranked Canada’s National parks in terms of popularity in the following list. 37 Canadian National parks are catalogued, each of which show beautiful scenery of parks, admission details and accessibility related information. Moreover, for every national park, there is a list of the top trails that have been ranked according to user ratings and reviews.
According to AllTrails, Banff National Park is ranked to be #1. For this national park, 279 trails are registered by AllTrails and can be viewed here.
I was introduced to AllTrails by one of my colleagues and I thought that I would try it out for a couple of weeks. I will be sharing my honest review and my experiences with AllTrails.
I liked the simplicity of the app. The tabs at the bottom are easy to reach and the app offers light and dark themes which I found to be great for indoor and outdoor lighting conditions. The explore tab shows relevant trails which are arranged under headings such as “Top trails nearby”, “Family friendly trails nearby”, “Dog friendly trails nearby” and others.
From a quick glance and without having the need to click on any individual trail, I can find the trail length, expected completion time, difficulty level and reviews right from the explore tab. When I was on the verge of choosing one trail over the other, I found myself clicking on the trails and checking the full map to see the trail layout and the route type. I also checked some of the photos as well as I randomly scrolled through to read some of the reviews left by users who completed the trails.
Once I was at the trail site, I was mostly concerned about the accuracy of the GPS tracking. After covering a distance of 38 kms on 3 different occasions, I found the GPS tracking functionality to be satisfactory. While it was not 100% accurate, it did a good job at staying within a threshold of 4 meters.
I tried to use some of the map layers such as satellite, terrain and OSM for testing purposes but I felt that it quickly distracted me and made it more difficult to focus on the trail trajectory. There were other features such as Lifeline and downloading offline maps that I had hoped to try but I did not get the chance to do so.
Have you heard about AllTrails before? Have you had the chance to use it? We would love to hear your experiences with the app, Reach out and chat with us!