The article originally appeared in Metrolink Matters.
AllTrails is a fitness and travel mobile app offering information on over 200,000 trails including maps, detailed reviews, and photos curated by millions of hikers, campers, and nature lovers themselves. AllTrails also has an expert crew of in-house staff working to create trail lists and expand the reach of their services. For more than a decade, AllTrails has been working to foster happy, healthy communities by connecting people to the outdoors, and with each other. In celebration of Bike Month, the company created a curated list of bike-friendly trails accessible via Metrolink, all located within two miles of a train station.
AllTrails as a company believes that getting outside shouldn’t have to mean embarking on a long trip to a backcountry trail – it could simply be stepping outside onto a local boardwalk with a bike, exploring a local park with a stroller, or hitting a beach trail with a pair of running shoes. The team aims to offer everyone across the globe a more accessible adventure, regardless of previous outdoor experience.
AllTrails sources lists of geotargeted trails that can be customized to an individual user’s needs, and further be divided into categories such as length, difficulty, and elevation change.
Metrolink connected with the Head of Communications at AllTrails, Meaghan Praznik, for deeper insight into the company’s background, history, and plans for the future.
Increasing Accessibility to the Outdoors
“AllTrails really evolved from the notion that everyone knows that they want to get outside, but sometimes they don’t know how to start.”
She explained how AllTrails realizes that the outdoors can sometimes be intimidating – whether that means venturing out on new trail, or navigating a familiar yet challenging one .
AllTrails offers built-in safety features for explorers, inspired by the idea that people should be able to adventure with peace of mind and genuinely enjoy the experience of being outdoors without worrying they’ll take a wrong turn and become lost.
The app includes crowdsourced reviews of trails, sortable by what has been most recently submitted, as well as images, so explorers can truly prepare for any adventure. There’s also the ability to download maps offline, so you can stay connected even when you’re out of range of cell service.
AllTrails Believes Access to the Outdoors is a Non-negotiable
Praznik says from her time working at AllTrails, it’s become clear people instinctively know the outdoors is good for them physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially — but they might not know how to take that first step in finding a way to get outside.
This is where her team comes in and tries to break down each step toward getting to the trail, up to the summit, and all the way back down to the car.
“I think that we all have this big notion about ‘what getting outside,’ and ‘what getting out on the trail’ really is,” she said. “People might think it requires a lot of gear, or that they have to travel to a National Park, or that the trails have to be dirt and it has to be in the backcountry — which isn’t true.”
To AllTrails, increasing access for everyone to “all trails,” means showcasing a range of options – – from the paved trails for a mom or dad with a stroller, to flowy switchback trails for the daring mountain bikers – to the wheelchair friendly trails — and beyond.
“I think we forget that it’s our birthright to to have access to the outdoors,” she said. Praznik explains that AllTrails uses a unique method to map their trails – users can “record” their hike which crowdsources data such as the route they’re taking, the elevation change and offers future explorers insight into what to expect when they arrive.
“Our content is both crowdsourced from the community, and hand-curated by our team in house,” said Praznik. “Hikers, walkers, mountain bikers and trail runners read these authentic reviews, and can check out the experiences of those who have recently visited that same trail. I think what’s beautiful about this network is how everyone is able to help and inspire each other to get outdoors.”
As many people were initially forced to remain indoors at the start of 2020, it soon became clear that the ability to spend time outside would be extremely beneficial to mental and physical health, as a form of self-care.
“What’s really incredible about what we’re doing at AllTrails is to be a part of this reawakening and movement in favor of the outdoors,” said Praznik. “We have a community of just over 30 million people, and we can see a clear path to over a billion users. We have trails on every continent including Antarctica. It’s about trying to help everyone democratize access to the outdoors.”
It’s Not Where You’re Exploring, It’s Who You’re Exploring With
AllTrails does an excellent job helping people find new trails and get prepared for many types of outdoor adventures – but Praznik stresses how sometimes it’s not about where you’re exploring, but who you’re able to enjoy the outdoors experience with.
“The next thing we’re setting our sights on is doing a better job of connecting the local community with one another so we can all share in this passion,” she said. “We’re firm believers that conservation starts with this passion for the outdoors, so the more people we can get hooked on spending time outside, and really appreciating the benefits of it – it will generate interest from more people who are just as passionate about conservation and preserving wild places.”