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Here’s How to Check Out Trail Conditions Before Your Run

TrailForks is an app and website that lets you know what you are getting yourself into on the trail

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Trailforks is a do-it-all program for outdoor adventurers who are planning big routes, traveling to new places, or curious about their local trail conditions. 

The app is built as a crowd-sourced tool for local trail organizations and trail users to inform the community of trail maintenance and issues. The website uses data from trail runners, mountain bikers, skiers, and a whole host of other outdoor enthusiasts to identify trails and keep their descriptions up-to-date.

Find the Trailforks website at trailforks.com, and download the app for iPhone or Android.

How to Find a New Trail

Maybe you want to know which trails are dry after a rain, or maybe you are deciding where to go first in a new place. 

In the “Trails” tab, you can search for a region or specific trail you want to explore. The topographic map will show you every trail color-coded by difficulty. Purple trails are access roads or double track. Green trails are easy. Blue trails are intermediate. Black trails are hard, and red trails are expert-level. 

RELATED: 4 Science-Driven Lessons On Downhill Running

Click on any trail and Trailforks shows the distance, elevation profile, difficulty, primary uses, condition, and status. The trail condition tells you what the surface of the trail is like (e.g., dry, wet, ideal, variable, etc.). The status tells you if the trail is open, closed, or if there are minor or significant issues on the trail. 

Click on the “view trail” button and Trailforks provides even more information. The trail’s page tells you the physical difficulty on top of the technicality, when the best season to use the trail is, and whether or not dogs are allowed. At the bottom of the page, there are comments and ratings left by other Trailforks users. These comments often debate the difficulty of the trail and mention any hazards that may not be captured by the “status” of the trail. 

There are tabs at the top of each trail’s page where you can view photos, see detailed reports of trail closures, and find detailed stats on the trail (eg., average grade, altitude, max grade, etc.). 

Building a Route

The “Routes” feature on Trailforks lets you see other folks’ routes in the area, what trails they use, the elevation profile, and the distance. Trail Forks still provides all the above information on the individual trails that make up the route. 

With the route builder function on Trailforks, you can find the area you want to explore and click around on the map while Trailforks connects the dots. You can make it snap to the nearest trail, or go directly from point to point if you want off-trail adventures. Once you have finished the loop, it shows turn-by-turn directions when possible, the trails it uses, their statuses and conditions, the distance, and the elevation profile. 

You can then download the route to the smartphone app, download the .gpx file separately, or send the route to your Garmin app. The Trailforks app will allow you to use the route and see your location on it when you download the region you are exploring and the route.

RELATED: Kaytlyn Gerbin and Jenny Abegg on the North Cascades High Route

Community

Trailforks is an all-encompassing tool for any outdoor adventurer, but it is also a way to stay connected with the outdoor community. With a Trailforks account (free with an Outside + membership) you comment on trails, log what routes you have run, connect with friends to cheer them on, and link your Strava for seamless activity uploads.

No matter where you go you can tap into the joy of the outdoor community through the intimate local knowledge on Trailforks. Go forth with confidence.