By Geoff Chain, NOHVCC
Recently I was scrolling through my social media feeds and saw a post from a friend about a Colorado trail app called COTREX. I am a huge fan of old-school paper maps, but I also love apps that let me quickly check out an area for nearby OHV trails and riding opportunities. I found it on the app store and downloaded it to my phone. What I found is a well-designed app created by a third party, Natural Atlas, who were contracted by the Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) and the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (CDNR), with data from land management agencies across Colorado.
The COTREX trails website has been active since 2017, but the new app allows users the ability to download trail information to their devices for use offline. A huge benefit, as most trails are in remote areas with minimal to no cell coverage.
What’s unique about COTREX is that it was created by using data from 230 land managers in Colorado to create a comprehensive platform showing all different trail types. This includes hiking trails, motorized single-track, 50” and under OHV trails, and over 50” width trails. Users can select individual trails to see features such as total length, difficulty, who manages the land, current trail conditions, and a host of other features. In addition, you can also view featured routes which is one of my favorite aspects of some of the crowd-sourced information. Finding trails is one thing, but how will you know if there is a favored direction, a particularly challenging spot, or what the current conditions are? Being able to ride a favored local loop can make the experience much more enjoyable and safer. Users also have the ability to upload trail information, and once verified by the land manager, it will be added to the map. This is a key difference from crowdsourced apps which show unverified and often unsanctioned, potentially putting users unknowingly on illegal trails.
COTREX is one of the best apps I’ve seen from the land agencies themselves. Hopefully this is a model that other states can learn from and replicate in their respective areas. Even if you don’t live in Colorado download the app and check out some of the features!