Recognizing the demand for improved information about outdoor opportunities at local and accessible parks and trails, it became clear that key partners in Los Angeles would need to step up and take a leadership role in order to better serve the community. Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation, along with other key land managers in the county including California State Parks, the National Park Service, Mountains Restoration Trust, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, and Catalina Island Conservancy formed a partnership called ‘Trails LA County’ with a focus on better connecting people with the public trails across the County.
To meet the need, Trails LA County developed a website focused on providing detailed maps, alerts, elevation profiles and much more. But the partnership knew that visitors wanted to be able to take maps and information offline with them while out on the trail so they could safely and confidently navigate the trails, so they started looking for a mobile app solution.
Even just a few years ago, it was a huge technical lift to create a modern, feature-rich public-facing smartphone app, a lift that was hard to justify for most public agencies, given the pace at which mobile technology is changing, the significant upfront cost and constant software updates.
But with OuterSpatial, Trails LA County was able to focus on the story they want to convey to their visitors without worrying about the technical complexities.
OuterSpatial provided a clear data format that allowed each of the partners to follow and align their recreation data across many agencies in a complicated jurisdictional landscape.
With high quality, consistent recreation data and a powerful platform to take care of the technical work, the partners were able to quickly deploy the Trails LA County Mobile app to their community.
Next, various staff and volunteers from participating agencies were trained on adding content and immediately started publishing quality information to visitors including detailed park and trail descriptions, park brochures, high-quality photos, closures, events, and real-time alerts.
Trails LA County partners have taken advantage of Hero Items, one of the best tools to highlight content in the app. Using OuterSpatial Manager, staff can log in anytime and create a Hero Items which can be either a location in the app, an event, featured content, or an external webpage. Once created, these show up prominently in the app and are often the first thing seen by app users. The partners have posted Hero Items on tips for hiking in the heat, parking information, best practices for sharing the trail, beginner hiking resources and much more.
Getting current information to recreationists is an important Trails LA County goal. In order to do this efficiently, partners are actively leveraging the ‘Post’ feature in OuterSpatial Manager, which allows managers to post dynamic information in near real-time to visitors. Trails temporarily closed due to fires, bridges washed out or broken, and trails to be cautious on due to heavy rain are all examples of posts published to the app.
The trail network in LA County is incredible complex as it traverses a diverse natural and urban landscape. Knowing the exact location of the trailhead, key points of interest along the trails and the actual trail alignments is a critical element to providing a safe and enjoyable experience for all. Publishing the official and authoritative trail data along with an easy to use and a visually appealing interactive map within the app has made navigating the trails easier and safer for all users.
A user-friendly “one-stop” resource: Trails LA County provide a comprehensive trails database covering 600+ parks, nearly one thousand linear miles of trails, hundreds of points of interest including trailheads, parking lots, bathrooms, drinking water, scenic vistas and much more.
Regardless of their interest visitors can now easily find and learn more about the wide range of available outdoor recreation options with inviting content such as beautiful photos, detailed descriptions, permitted uses, directions to trailheads, park maps and brochures, and time-sensitive alerts such as closures.
Also, users can obtain extensive trail knowledge such as connectivity (e.g. how the 30-mile Schabarum-Skyline Trail in Covina connects the San Gabriel Mountains with the 35-mile San Gabriel River Trail that ends in Seal Beach), elevation, and the presence of natural wildlife, all of which gives them an accurate depiction of each trail’s individual character.
As such, the app and website have become an invaluable one-stop tool that users can rely upon for accurate, up-to-date and real-time information on trails and recreation information throughout the County.
"Leveraging OuterSpatial allowed us to cost-effectively deploy a County-sanctioned world-class trails mobile app and then efficiently keep the data and content current for our growing community. Trails LA County is a critical tool in our goal to better connecting people with the public trails across the County."