The COTREX trail application monitors COVID-19 trail closures and alerts
The Colorado Trail Explorer (COTREX), the free app developed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife to provide Colorado trail users with trail information, is now equipped with a new feature to track all trail closures including those related to COVID-19. The COTREX app, which is available on both web and mobile, is the first trails application in the nation to include all the public trails across a state. Launched in 2018, its features provide information on more than 45,000 miles of public trails in Colorado.
The new feature was actually developed over the winter to address trail closures for common trail issues. That changed in response to the COVID-19, said Alex Alma, the Trails and Recreation Project Manager for the Department of Natural Resources. “When we designed the feature over the winter, we did not anticipate having to make 300-plus closures all across the state,” he said. “There’s actually much more than that now. We anticipated muddy trails in the springtime and maybe a manager doing construction on a trailhead.”
He said of all the features considered for development, the closures’ tool has taken precedence. “We’re really trying to do more and more of COVID-related development because land managers are seeing Fourth of July-type usage on their trails right now. And it’s tough with the limited capacity that they have,” explained Alma. “Nobody knows exactly if this trend is going to keep going forward but we’re doing all that we can here at the state to help support those land managers in order to get updated information out to the public.”
Land management support
In another example of how land managers are adapting to COVID-19-related usage issues on popular public trails, Alma pointed to Boulder County. “It’s piloting the concept of having more one-way trails,” he said. “They have maybe six loop trails or so that they decided to encourage people to go one direction on in order to reduce the amount of time they have to pass or come across someone on the trail.”
In addition to trails, the COTREX app tracks closures related to campgrounds, visitor centers, open spaces and parks. Playgrounds and recreation centers will not be tracked on COTREX.
Pick your trails
For anyone not familiar with COTREX, the app has a trail filter that provides customized information. Select your user class from nine user classes, and the app shows trails only in that class.
Prior to the coronavirus, added Alma, “we were going to put in volunteer (as a user class). One week you might want to hike. And the next weekend you might want to be out on a trail to help out with some maintenance.”