Trailforks is a mountain bike specific navigation app designed by our friends at Pinkbike. It has saved me countless times from taking the wrong turn or riding up something I’d rather be riding down. It easily lets me submit reports of downed trees, donate to cycling clubs and quickly dial local emergency numbers should anything go wrong. I recommend it for pretty much everyone and since it’s free, there really isn’t any reason not to have it on your phone.
What does it do?
I’ve found that I use the Trailforks app two different ways. First when traveling with my bike to locations I’m unfamiliar with the trails. In this scenario it’s my go to navigation device. Second is when I’m riding my local trails back home in Hawaii. I don’t need the app for navigation at home so it turns into a trail reporting tool.
On the Road
Those of you who like to travel will enjoy the mapping and navigation tools. Before you ever step on a plane it’s possible to download entire regions of trails for use offline. Heading to New Zealand to ride? Download the region trails using WiFi in your home. Then start planning what trails you’d like to ride. Trails are labeled by name and difficulty and it’s easy to zoom in and out to see more or less trails. Clicking on a trail brings up more info including a description of the trail, an elevation profile, recommended riding direction, photos, videos and recent trail reports. Last year in Whistler I spent the entire trip riding all the singletrack outside of the park. I love exploring but I also didn’t spend all that money getting over there so I could ride fire roads or get lost. I wanted to make sure every day was full of solid rides. Trailforks allowed me to do just that. I lost count of how many times I reached a trail intersection, pulled out the app, pointed it in each direction to see which trail led where, picked the one I wanted and continued on. It’s even possible to use the companion website trailforks.com to makes routes ahead of time so you know exactly where you will be riding
On home turf the app serves a completely different purpose. The navigation features become less useful to me (I already know my way around) and the trail reporting tools become more valuable. Several weeks back while riding Ma’akua Ridge in Hauula I turned a corner to see a 50ft section of trail completely gone. A landslide had wiped it out. I pulled out the Trailforks app, took a picture, marked the trail as needing major repairs and submitted a trail report. The organization and people responsible for trail maintenance are now able to see exactly what the issue is and where it is thanks to your phones GPS. MTBHawaii.com has been integrated with Trailforks so all user submitted trail reports are immediately available for riders to see as well.
Who designed it?
Trailforks is designed and maintained by Pinkbike. Pinkbike is one of the largest distributors of mountain bike media in the world. If you want to know what’s going on in mountain biking, visit Pinkbike.com. I know the lead developer personally and I will tell you that he is dedicated to making Trailforks the best navigation app for mountain bikers possible. He’s constantly looking for things to improve, answering my questions or customizing features for me so they will work just how I like. I know he’s done the same thing for other friends of mine as well. Pinkbike itself has invested a great deal into the hardware as well as the software so that the app runs smoothly and efficiently. This is a long term project for them.
The app has a couple of other great features that are not used as frequently but worth mentioning. First, with the touch of a button you are able to make emergency phone calls. They app keeps track of your location and dials the appropriate emergency number. Hopefully this is something I never have to use but I’ll be grateful it’s there when I need it!
Second the app enables you to donate to local trail organizations. When I hit New Zealand next month I’ll easily be able to show my support for the work they have done my donating to their local club. 100% of the money goes to the club, Pinkbike and Trailforks don’t take any of it.
So whether you travel and ride or just ride at home, I recommend giving the app a try. Trailforks is available for free on Apple and Android phones.