The Bay Area Ridge Trail Council (Council) is a nonprofit organization focused on completing and promoting a 500+ mile connected hiking, cycling, and equestrian trail on the ridgelines around the San Francisco Bay.
The Ridge Trail follows existing trail networks located on land owned and managed by a diverse set of public agencies throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Finding individual sections on the 380+ miles of completed trail can be challenging, so wayfinding maps and resources are critical for recreationists. The Council offers plenty of printable PDF maps on its website, but they were looking for a better way for recreationists to plan trips and take maps with them to help them navigate safely while on the trail.
Ridge Trail also offers a number of important events on the trail each year to help raise funds for completion of the trail. To support these events, they need a tool recreationists could use to both plan their travel to the event and navigate on-trail during the event. Because of this, making the event maps and other information available even while offline was important.
Through discussions with their members, the Council knew that recreationists were already using mobile apps while out on the trail, but they wanted to ensure these recreationists could access the most up-to-date, authoritative information. They knew, however, that they couldn’t afford to build their own mobile app.
After connecting with OuterSpatial, the Council was able to quickly integrate the entire alignment of the existing Bay Area Ridge Trail into the app. In addition, they used OuterSpatial Manager to georeference ~80 PDF maps that represented the completed sections of the trail. This made these Paper Maps available in the app so recreationists could see their GPS location on top of the map while out on the trail.
The Ridge Trail is broken down into about 80 sections, each ranging in distance from a few miles to 20+ miles. Council staff used tools within OuterSpatial Manager to generate a curated Outing for each section. They then added descriptions and associated photos, Paper Maps, and documents for each.
The Council worked with a cartographer to build custom PDF maps for each section of the trail. Working within OuterSpatial Manager, staff georeferenced each of the PDF maps so they could surface as Paper Maps within the app.
OuterSpatial Mobile contains information from many organizations, so finding the Bay Area Ridge Trail in the app requires some browsing. To make it easier for recreationists to find the Bay Area Ridge Trail within the app, Council staff generated deep links for each section of the trail and integrated the links into their website, email marketing campaigns, and social media outreach. When a user opens one of these deep links on their mobile device, OuterSpatial Mobile takes them directly to the section of trail they’re interested in.
There is a ton going on at the Council: new sections of trail being dedicated, alignment updates, fundraising events, and much more. With OuterSpatial, Council staff have an easy-to-use tool to publish their most current and accurate maps to the Bay Area Ridge Trail community. With deep links integrated into the Council’s website and published via their marketing and social media campaigns, staff can now feel confident their users have access to the most up-to-date information and tools to help them safely navigate while out on the trail.
For trail users, the app acts as a one stop shop for all the ridge trail maps and tools users need, right in the palm of their hand. This helps users navigate and read up on all the details they need about any section of Ridge Trail.
"OuterSpatial has pushed the organization to the next level by providing us with a comprehensive mobile app we wouldn't have been able to develop on our own. The app allows the organization to progress our maps into the mobile realm while also increasing access to our traditional maps / tools."
"Hey OuterSpatial, we just got contacted by a circumnavigator who said the OuterSpatial app was fantastic when planning and doing her trip.
The ability to easily add and edit outings on the app is great. We like incorporating it with our trail events and hikes in order to give participants another tool to use while at the event."