We are pleased to announce that we are rolling out a new feature on Tripleblaze that we have been running on Singletracks.com (Tripleblaze’s sister site) for a little over a year now with great success: trail system pages.
Have you ever been hiking at a place that has a large, interconnected network of trails, many of which have their own names, or have you ever backpacked on a long distance trail that has many distinct sections? When trying to add trails like those to the website, it can be really difficult, if not down-right impossible, to fully describe such a trail in one simple trail listing.
This is where the new trail system pages come in: with a trail system, you can start by writing a description that sums up the entire trail system or long distance trail as a whole. Then, to add more detail, you can create additional trail listings that give more specifics about each individual trail or section of trail.
If some trails in the system have better views, unique attractions such as waterfalls or historic sites, or are easier or harder than the other trails, you can mention that in the individual listings. This helps people who are visiting an area with a massive spider web of trails decide which ones they want to visit. Or, if it is a long-distance trail, it helps to divide it into sections, as most people will generally hike shorter sections of a long-distance trail (such as the Appalachian Trail) instead of thru-hiking the entire thing all at once.
When a trail system is created, it will look like this when browsing through all of the trails in a state:
If you click on the arrow, it will expand and show all of the sub-listings under that trail system as well:
Also, when on the actual page for the specific trail system, you can click over to the pages for each individual trail too:
And, from each individual trail page, you can click up a level to the overarching trail system page:
In all of this, our goal is to provide a cleaner, less cluttered trail database and a more useful source of information for you, the user. Based on the positive results that we have had with this new system over the past year on Singletracks, we are confident that it will help better the Tripleblaze experience for everyone.
How to Add Trails to the Database
Since we are just rolling out this brand-new system for networked trails, I thought that it would be helpful for newer members to have a step-by-step guide to the best way to contribute trail listings to the site. Hopefully this will even be a great refresher for some of our more experienced members:
1. Gather Information
Before you submit a new trail to the database, it is a good idea to gather as much information as possible about the trail. At the very least, we ask that you have personally hiked whatever trails you submit. In addition, it is recommended that you have photos of the trail and know where the trailhead is located. Also, if you have a GPS track of the trail and video, that is fantastic!
2. Check to see if the trail is already listed, or if there is a trail system that your trail should be listed under.
This is a very important step. Browse through our trail database to see if the individual trail you are adding has already been submitted by another user. Also, keep your eyes open for a “parent” trails or systems of the trail you’re adding. You can use our search bar to help with this step too:
3. Add the trail.
If you don’t already see the trail that you want to add, then it’s time to add it. From the hiking trail page for a specific state, click on the “Add hiking trail” link:
The new trail submission page will open up. At this point, you must make the decision: is this new trail that you are adding going to be a stand-alone trail (that could turn into a trail system), or is it going to be a sub-listing of a trail that is already in the Tripleblaze database? This will affect the first form that you fill in on the page, and how you write the description.
The first blank on the new trail submission page is for linking your new trail as a sub-trail listing to a trail that already exists in the database. If you think that your trail is a standalone trail, or if you intend it to be the main trail system page and to add other trails beneath it, just leave the first line blank.
If you DO want to link your new trail to an existing trail listing, just start typing the existing trail’s name in the bar. As you type, a drop down menu should appear with names of trails (the more you type, the more specific the drop down list). Then, just select the trail name from the list:
After selecting the trail system (or not, if you are adding a standalone trail), add the name of the specific trail and the rest of the information in all of the other standard blanks: city, state, trail length (a GPS or a good map helps with this), directions, and description.
When adding information to a new trail listing, I personally sometimes find it tempting to breeze through as fast as possible, especially since I’m often in the process of adding many different trails from a recent trip. Do whatever you can to resist this urge: the information you are adding now is the first exposure that hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people might have with said trail. The more information that you can add, and the more accurate the information, the better. The information that you add to Tripleblaze now will be on this website for decades… there’s no telling how long people will be reading your trail descriptions.
4. Add the trailhead location.
The second most important thing that you can possibly do, aside from adding the actual trail listing, is to add the trailhead location. While written directions to the trail are all well and good, people can drive to a trail from every point of the compass, so instead of trying to think of all of the alternatives when writing directions, just add an accurate Google Maps location. In addition, it’s always great to have a visual of where the trail is located.
Most importantly, the Google Maps trail location will allow the trail to pop up on the searchable Google Map on the main hiking trails page. Also, it will come up in searches on our mobile iPhone and Android apps and allow people to route themselves directly to the trails.
Example Google Maps search. All of the blue dots are trails with trailhead locations that have been provided by users.
To do so, click on the “Locate this item on a map” button:
You can use the box in the upper left to recenter the map with GPS coordinates for the trailhead or the physical address, or you can click and drag/zoom the map until you find the correct spot. After you recenter or click and drag to the spot, zoom in until you’re close enough to make sure you have the exact location, and then click on the map to drop the trailhead icon. Finally, add the name of the trail in the “Waypoint Name” box, add a description in the “Waypoint Description” box, and click “Save.”
After you save the trailhead, a link should come up that says “Click here to view your map.” After you click the link, you should see a placepoint on the map where the trailhead is located. Back on the main trail listing page, there should now be a small box on the far right of the trail page that says “Trailhead Map” and will allow you to plot directions to the trail from anywhere.
5. Add photos.
Photos make every trail listing better and help users get a feel for whether or not the hike is an experience they want to have, without requiring them to drive for hours (or days) to reach the trail.
To add photos, just click on the “Add a photo” button:
6. Add GPS data.
If you have GPS data for this trail, click on the “Create a map for this item” button (it takes the place of the “Locate this item on a map” button after you submit the trailhead location). Also, note that you can easily add GPS data right after you submit the trailhead location.
Assuming you have the GPS data in a GPX, TCX, or KML file on your computer, just click the “Upload GPS data file” button, click the “Browse” button on the right, and select your file. Add an appropriate name as the map title, a description in the description box, and click “Preview.”
Once you click the “Preview” button, a preview of your map submission will show up. Double check to make sure that everything looks the way it should. If it doesn’t look right, click the “Not right – let me try again” button on the right. Then, attempt to use a different program to fix your file and then re-upload it. If everything looks good, click the “Great – save it!” button, and the file will be saved!
7. Add a video.
If you have taken a video on the trail and would like to submit it to the database, first upload your video to YouTube. Then, click on the “Embed a video” link:
Next, paste the link to your video (not the embed code) into the link box, add a description in the description box, and click “Submit.”
Note: you can also add videos that other people have already uploaded to YouTube. Just make sure they are appropriate and on topic please.
We know that our database is not error free. If you ever spot an error, please let us know: just click on the “Correct / Update” link and send us a message.
If you really want to go above and beyond the call of duty and you find a trail that is already listed but only has a one-line description, feel free to write up a new description for the trail and send it to us using the Correct / Update button. We love having the best information possible!
Your Turn: If you have any questions about the most helpful way to add a hiking trail to the Tripleblaze database, please drop a comment below and I’ll try to help you out!