Website hits a peak in trail-wandering interest
It is estimated that some 6 million Canadians like to get involved in outdoor activities, from a walking trail to a biking trail to mountain climbing or kayaking.
An Ottawa company has tapped into that market with a website that tracks nearly 10,000 trails, and provides a mountain of information
Riding a bike trail in Western Canada while you sit and watch the video of the ride? Or how about watching a kayak trip in the harbour of Charlottetown Prince Edward Island?
Or how about reading details of a walking trail at Ottawa's Mud Lake? It's all on the website called Trail Peak.
The site's been around for several years, but now social media features are taking it to a new level.
Kurt Turchan, an ex-Nortel worker, formed Trail Peak, and says, "Response has been great. We have had a huge input from people out west, especially in the Rockies and out east.
"In Ottawa, not so much. We would love to have more input, and it does not have to a lot: information on the trail, and maybe a picture, and later others might have GPS co-ordinates and a video."
One of his key staffers is web developer Ethan Vandenberg, who keeps all the elements of the web site working. Users are encouraged to post comments, photos, and all sorts of information.
Turchan says the challenge is to keep people coming back for new information, and users help make that happen.
You can search for any kind of trail, from ones on land, on water, or on snow.
Pick the level of difficulty you can handle. You can search all of Canada, and some parts of the United States. There is even a "20 most popular trails" list for most communities.
Vandenberg says, "I find it a little daunting because there are thousands of pages, and we get thousands of visitors every day, so if I make a mistake I know it could affect a lot of people."
A mobile element to it all has become a huge part of the outdoors. A mobile phone app was a must for Trail Peak to offer.
Launched last year, users on the Apple store web site give it a poor rating, but the company is working to refine it. While a city cycling path may not be the most exotic trail that Turchan tracks, it is part of that outdoor experience that people are increasingly looking for.
"You can use the phone app and click on find the closest trail and get directions. You can download details on a trail to a GPS device, and then use it lead you on the trail. People who like the outdoors don't want to sit in an office and look at trails. They want to get outside, and mobile devices can help them."
Turchan says the website is getting 5,000 to 6,000 hits a day.