Trailforks Tutorial: Adding a Trail Report

Aug 9, 2016
by Brent Hillier  
Trailforks tutorial header

Just riding along and notice an issue with the trail, whether it's a down tree or an eroded section, it's important to let others know. The great thing is submitting a Trail Report on the Trailforks App not only lets other users know but Reports can be subscribed to and managed by your local Trail Association and Builders.

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Interested in learning how your local trail association can manage Trail Reports on Trailfroks? Check out the below video to learn how to subscribe to Trail Reports, Address Reports, Submit Work Reports, Track hours of labour and export everything into Excel.

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Trail Reports can also be scheduled. This is great for trail days, races, or active logging of an area.

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For a summary of all the trail reporting features, check out this page.

New to Trailforks? Learn more about the App here, and more about the website here.

Have a question you want answered about Trailforks? Leave it in the comments below and stay tuned for more Trailforks Tutorials.

Missed the last Trailforks Tutorials? Catch up below:

Syncing Strava Rides
Adding a Route to Your Trailforks App

MENTIONS: @trailforks @canadaka @brenthillier

Author Info:
brenthillier avatar

Member since May 11, 2006
57 articles

  • 7 0
 The app is isn't confusing, has a good UI. I am actually sort of shocked that people are complaining, I have the trails that surround me in under a minute, how much faster do yo want? Lack of trails? I have commented many times to people that in the world of sports Trailforks and Strava are amazing for FREE. If you are going to complain, be constructive, give examples of how to make it better ... contribute.

What I would love it a way to port my moto trails into a moto-only section of this app. Smile
  • 3 0
 To bad there is not a Junk product report where fellow riders can call out underperforming parts.
  • 5 2
 It's called the forum....
  • 1 0
 A trail review section would be nice
  • 3 0
 Love the app, but I wish more people used it. Hard to use a crowd sourced app with not that many people contributing.
  • 3 0
 idk, just used it recently in squampton & bellingham and was almost exactly spot on with all trails. made it really easy to self-navigate trails i knew absolutely nothing about.
  • 2 0
 Trailforks is the largest app of it's kind. Hounders of thousands of users across the apps and site.
  • 2 1
 The Trailforks app and companion website seem to have truly robust features, unrivaled by anything else out there.

But I've got to be honest here, the user interface is less than intuitive. And that's putting it politely... A little 'form before function" would be a positive. If it's too hard to use, it's features and potential functionality are completely irrelevant.

I've studied user interface, and work (like most of you) with highly specialized software everyday. Sometimes you are forced to work with software and apps that are garbage because you have no other choice. But when it comes to a cycling app, I'm more inclined to use mtbproject (despite its comparatively limited functionality) because it's EASIER to use. I WANT to use Trailforks, but I always feel like I just fumble around for a few minutes before closing it.

Before you claim it's "user error" on my part, think about truly good software design. If it's good, the possibility for "user error" is already designed out.

I'm not hating on the App, I think it's fantastic what these guys are trying to do. I just hope to see it get better. Development is obviously an expensive endeavor, whether that expense is time or money... it takes a lot to do it right, and may take even more time to mature to something I'll use regularly.

All in all, I applaud the effort, and still find some uses in the app. But I feel like it could use a bit of an user interface overhaul.
  • 2 0
 @MasterSlater: Some examples of what you mean would be nice, send us an email. There is always room for improvement with regards to UI, its a complex product that does a lot. The app is a much simpler UI than the website.

But i strongly disagree with your comparison to mtbproject. There current app UI is HORRIBLE and I can't even imagine what you find easier. It requires several clicks to even get to the map, the map defaults to viewing all of north america everytime you re-open the app. The UI is confusing and inconsistent. There isn't even a UI button to get back to the homescreen once your viewing the map, you have to use the hardware back button on Android.

The Trailforks app UI has a consistent map as the root, and always has UI back buttons. It has nice features like the bottom infoWindow when clicking a trail to show you the most crucial info along with interactive elevation profile (something they have now pretty much exactly copied). Other UI elements like bottom nav bar to quickly go back to ridelog results or scroll through them. Has the side-menu to switch to other areas of the app, mtbproject you have to press back a bunch of times to get to the "home" screen. And if you press back too many times it exists the app. Trailforks asks if you want to exit the app first, and if you do, it will remember your exact map location when you re-open. Lots of small UI & navigation things like this make Trailforks much easier to use.

So if you have any specific examples we'd love to hear them, we are always trying to improve the app. We have another update coming in the next couple weeks. This update is mostly adding new features and fixes, but there is a couple UI changes. Like a bottom UI bar on the map when you enter the map after clicking a trail from a list. A list of trails on a route, region or search results, this bar lets you quickly go back to this list to choose another trail, or you can swipe left/right to switch to the next/prev trails in the results.
  • 2 0
 @canadaka: MTB Project released an update on the 4th for iOS which greatly improved its UI. I feel it brings it close to Trailforks.
Disregarding user interface, MTB Project has more trails (where I live at least) and Trailforks could compete there by allowing users to record and add trails through the app.
  • 3 0
 @fjas510: They did release a new version for iOS that has a much better UI than their old app, it now has a lot of the same UI elements as the Trailforks app...

Both sites have areas where one will have more trails than another, so your local area might be this case. But Trailforks has over 3X the amount of overall trails and is growing at a faster rate. If you are a local with knowledge of the local trails, I find it faster and usually more accurate to draw in the trails by hand using our tools: Better to draw in the trail taking the average of many users ridelogs, than add a trail based on your one gps track recorded on a not so reliable phone.

The Trailforks website allows numerous ways to add trails, from gpx/kml files, Strava import, bulk file formats, drawing by hand. I was going to release recording in our next app update (very soon), but i'm not satisfied with its stationary detection on iOS right now, so it will be released in the next update probably in September. It will integrate with our Ridelog feature. I've been testing tracking for several months now, and we don't want to just slap it in, its an important thing to get right, balancing accuracy vs battery usage. Many users note in appstore reviews that the Trailforks app, even with its many more features, uses less battery than mtbproject. And given my testing with 3 hour rides, the Trailforks tracking also uses less battery than Strava by about 17%.
  • 1 0
 @MasterSlater: Dude. I'm with you. That's the reason I'm on this page. It feels like l e a r n i n g an app rather than a useful tool to me. I'm at the middle of the smart phone bell curve in terms of awareness and capacity. I want to use it but it feels like a chore to learn. The 80/20 design rule (where 80% of use is from 20% of features) has been disregarded here, I think. IMO - fewer features and simpler would be more widely useful to the mtb community.
  • 2 0
 @mtbfunfunfun: again examples would be helpful... If you don't want to learn or use features like reporting trail issues and conditions, you don't have to use it. It's hidden away in the menu, the main app screen (the MAP) is a very clean interface with minimal UI elements or things to learn. Pan around the map, zoom in & out, press the yellow button to show your location, click trails to get more detail. Doesn't seem like a chore to me, and is how pretty much all map apps work. We have analytics events on pretty much everything in the app, the features are being used. So I don't know where you get this 80/20 rule from, we do use this design rule, most of the app usage is on the map screen, doing the basic navigation tasks I mentioned above. So that's why these other features are hidden away as not to clutter up the main map UI. The Trailforks app main map screen has less ui elements than Google Maps (4 vs 6).

But that's what these articles are for, a lot of users just use the map, and never dive deeper into the app. So these tutorials are showcasing some of the advanced features.
  • 2 0
 @canadaka: i got some feedback as an outsider to the states and the north shore, as a biker in Mexico I have no clue what the app does, what is it for? is it compatible with Strava or is it an Strava competitor? what's the core of the app? I know there are multiple pages in PB explaining what the app does, but not everybody has time to read them. So my recomendation is to make the app intutitive as other apps, intutitive not only in the means of the app itself, also intuitive as how mouth to ear referals would happen. Very little people know the app around here, and the people that i know tried it just gave up after one or 2 rides.

I understand Mexico and Latinamerica are not core for mountain biking so that's ok, just a recomendations for future expansion projects.
  • 2 0
 @Narro2: " I have no clue what the app does, what is it for? "
From the title of the app Trailforks - Mountain Bike Trail Map
So in the simplest terms its a mountain bike trial map on your phone.
  • 3 0
 @radek: my friend there is more than just the name. Specially for nonenglish speaking countries. Trail is not a latinroot word so the word is confusing just like you swaped it for the word trial at the end of your comment. Dont get me started with the word fork... "Is this something for your front suspensiĆ³n?"

Not being negative. Just giving some feedback.
  • 1 0
 @Narro2: Ok, if this is a language barrier issue then this will be improved very shortly.

Would that help the understanding?
  • 1 0
 @radek: it will definitely help, I would standarize the word "Camino" for "Ruta" or "Pista", just use one word for "trail" not different ones.

Now, do i still have record the GPS data from a Different App and then upload it to Trailforks? or does Trailfork have the GPS capabilities now? that's pretty much what drove me away from the app in the first place. I dont have the patience to record the trail on one app, go to my PC to upload the GPX file to Trailforks, if you see my account i only did it for my local trail and a couple from Angel Fire, didnt have the patieance to do it for other trails.
  • 1 0
 @Narro2: The app won't have recording in this update, its there but not ready. So you can use a 3rd party app, or physical Garmin device to record a trail. You can also manually draw in the trail using our ridelog guide data, I do this almost all the time rather than recording a gps track.
  • 1 0
 @canadaka: ok.

Not many people have Garmin over here, must people use their phone, since pretty much is a basic necessity and is relatively cheap.

So my recomendation in this case is to invest on the recording feature, either $$$ or time, in the medium to long term it will pay itself with more users.

The purpouse of most apps is practicality.
  • 1 0
 @Narro2: Many people use Strava for their recording already for fitness and other reasons. You can simply connect your Strava to Trailforks and all your rides will show up on trailforks automatically. You don't have to do anything else.
Trailforks is not designed to be a replacement for Strava.
  • 3 3
 Trail reports are generally pretty useless after a week; complete garbage after a month. Can something be set up to discard any report over a certain age?

Example: Moab Slickrock trail. Most recent report is July 1, stating "standing water on trail". Well, duh.... it rained. That dried up after a day. The reports still up there from 2014 saying "very dry" are just stupid.

Other things that need improvement:

- there is no way to report an illegal trail and have it removed. This is an ESSENTIAL feature.

- gravel roads..... in my opinion they shouldn't be on there. If you really want gravel roads listed, have a way to turn them off.
  • 6 0
 If the condition of the trail is outdated... update it! Wink Sure some areas are not that active in constant trail updates, but I don't think removing old reports is a good idea. I've often found old updates still useful, especially when they warn of trail issues. from day 1 has had a ton of features to manage illegal trails...

Many gravel roads are essential for a complete map, as they are the links between trails. And as sad as it is, some regions gravel roads is the only real mountain biking options they have, at least legally. On the website you can filter maps to only show certain trail types.

For example here is Cumberland with all the "gravel roads" disabled,4,5,6
  • 1 1
 @canadaka: thanks for the help #55. (#22 is only for region owners/managers).

But: holy crap, is it possible to hide the "Flag" and "Subscribe" buttons any better?? If they're secret, nobody will use them. Buttons go at the TOP of a page, not all the f*ck down at the bottom off the screen. Jeez.

I disagree with you on trail condition reports. Ones from 2 years ago, with many more recent updates, are just not useful, and only clutter the page. If I did submit a report, it would just be one more bit of noise. I am not interested in contributing under those condtions.

I see trailforks as a mountain bike thing. If I can do it on my cyclocross bike, meh.
  • 1 0
 I don't look at trail reports on a per trail basis that much. Me and other trail maintainers just subscribe to all notifications for reports in our area. So if someone reports a washed out trail or down tree we get an email with exact trail and location. Not like back in the old days where you might get an email or call with a horribly inaccurate description or even the wrong trail name.

In Fall/Spring I also like to see notifications of trails that have dried out or are snow free.

If I encounter a dead tree or problem with a trail I don't maintain, I still create the report so that other associations can get notifications and sometimes send them a link just to be sure if it is a serious problem. Something like a bridge out or fell tree on a blind turn.
  • 1 0
 I tell folks every dam ride about this....and its amazing to see their response when I show them my phone and all the details. Eyes bulge.
  • 2 2
 Seriously, not one place to add in the Pokemons we find?
  • 2 2
 I 3 TF
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