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Mi-TRALE releases new UP trails app

HOUGHTON – MI-TRALE (Michigan Trails and Recreation Alliance of Land and the Environment), a local non-profit organization whose mission is to advance the safe and responsible use of multi-use trails for both motorized and non-motorized trail recreationalists, is pleased to announce the release of their free Michigan UP Trails app, available now for Android and iOS. This map app was designed to replace the prior existing paper maps that they used to distribute throughout United States.

“MI-TRALE had produced several paper maps and 2 volumes of a 140+ page trails map book which was very successful. We found soon after the maps or books were printed, the maps became out of date or services closed” said Donald Helsel of MI-TRALE. “The time and effort to produce products like this was unbelievable.”

Not only would the maps become outdated, but just-in-time updates on trail availability and conditions were just not feasible. But with the release of the Free Michigan UP Trails app, it “allows us to keep all the mapping and services data up to date for the users, almost real time,” Helsel said. This results in the ability to ensure a fun and safe experience for trail users.

This project didn’t just happen overnight. MI-TRALE met with WUPPDR (Western Upper Peninsula Planning & Development Region) to discuss their plan to migrate their existing paper maps to a digital app.

WUPPDR produced the map data and MI-TRALE asked for “recommendations for developers that could help develop the map app that we were envisioning” said Helsel.

This led to an introduction to Lexul – a local mobile and web application development company and graduate of MTEC SmartZone’s incubator, located in Hancock.

“The Michigan UP Trails app provided Lexul with a great opportunity to publicly showcase our mapping and app development capabilities. Most of our work is with custom internal business applications that have proprietary technology and processes” said Eric Ollis, CEO of Lexul LLC.

Since the app’s release, they have seen over 5,000 downloads to date, with very few negative comments.

The MI-TRALE team plans to continue adding other features and additional trails in the app as the Free Michigan UP Trails app gains more traction. They foresee the addition of multiple recreational trails across Michigan and possibly other states as well according to Helsel, given how Lexul was able to design the app for growth and flexibility.

“We are always looking for additional beneficial features for our users,” said Helsel.

One such idea for the future is GPS route tracking. For now, the next time you think about hitting the trail, download the free Michigan UP Trails app and give it a try. Be sure to give them feedback so that this resource can be the best it can be for our UP citizens and our visitors.