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New Features in TRAILS (web-based trail planning support application)

New functionality includes ability to incorporate user-defined custom layers to the analysis, ability to highlight potential switchback areas, inclusion of railroads in the analysis, improved project sharing, and use of the most current USGS trail data. 

We are pleased to announce several improvements to the TRAILS application. You are welcome to join our monthly workshops to learn more about the new features. In addition to the improvements described below, TRAILS now uses USGS trail data dynamically. This means that as soon as there is new data in the USGS trails dataset, it will be available in the TRAILS application right away.  

Adding Custom Layers into the Analysis 

You are now able to add custom layers into the cost surface analysis in addition to the four predefined layers TRAILS has been using: hydrography, elevation, transportation, and PAD-US management boundaries. The example below shows how sensitive areas are included in the analysis. Connecting trail results avoid these sensitive areas because they were scored as “high cost” in the scenario settings.

Trails Results with Custom Layer
The graphic shows the proposed trail connectors. The results go around the custom layer of sensitive areas.


Highlighting Potential Switchback Areas 

While the TRAILS application cannot currently propose actual switchback routes along steep slopes, the application is now able to highlight areas along proposed routes where the slope exceeds user-defined optimal slope range. This allows users to better understand where advanced planning will be needed.  

The black rectangles in the example below highlight the sections of the trail that meet the specified slope range for potential switchback areas.  

Highlight Switchback Areas in the map
The graphic shows highlighted switchback areas on a trail result. The specified sloped range along the route gets highlighted with a black rectangle.

Include Railroads in the Analysis 

Although railroads have always been part of the transportation analysis, you are now able to assign cost scores specifically to railroads. Expand the transportation group of features in the advance settings to access settings for Railroads. 

Railroad settings
The graphic shows the settings for the railroad features to be included in the analysis. Similar to other features, users can adjust the cost score scale bar for railroad features.


Improved Project Sharing  

In addition to the ability to either keep your project private or share your project will “everyone,” TRAILS now allows users to share their project with specific users who have access to the application. You’ll notice the new option, called “Share with specific users,” in the “Share Project” step. 

Project sharing with other users
Image of the settings for sharing a project with other users in TRAILS. Users have to specify an email address for another user to share the project with.