Update: I’ve removed the links to Trails.com from this article as in the years since I’ve written the review I have heard that the company has gone downhill and is not worth using. While the trail maps are nice, there are better alternatives out there and nothing forgives poor customer service or repeated billing after canceling a service. If you really want to try this website, you can just type the URL into the browser yourself as I am no longer recommending them. The rest of this article is about my initial review, which was accurate at the time of writing.
click here for video
A couple of weeks ago, I saw an ad for trails.com on a website that I was visiting. I investigated, and I thought that the site was pretty neat and had a lot of potential, so I played around with it for a little while. I really liked it, so I decided that I would promote them and thought that I would share what you can do with their website. I also happened to have recently purchased a neat program that allows me to capture what I am doing on screen and I am teaching myself how to use it, so you can click on the image to the right to watch a video of how to use the website.
Trails.com is a site meant for scouting out trails, be it for your hometown and surrounding area or for someplace that you plan on visiting. They offer topography maps and trail guides, and make it fairly easy to search for specific locations or for what is available throughout a region. They also cater to quite a few different sports and activities, ranging from skiing, hiking, and mountain biking to fly fishing or bird watching. You can also search on natural landmarks such as waterfalls or hot springs, not that I would find many hot springs here in Maine.
Signing up is pretty straightforward, although you do need to provide them with a credit card for the trial. The trial gives you access to the site for a couple of weeks, and allows you to view and print up to three trail guides. They also offer some free trail guides if you would like to see how their system works without signing up. You do not get to choose which trails you want to see for those. To get to the free samples, click on the subscription overview and then find the view free samples link. You will see the the half dozen topo maps and a bit shy of a dozen trail guides that are all west of myself. Not that that means much, since I live on the Atlantic ocean. You can watch the video to see exactly where to click; instructions are about 3 minutes into the video.
If you cancel before your trial ends then they will not bill your card; but if you like the site and want unlimited access to their guides and maps then you can get an annual subscription for less than $50. Cancelling is as simple as clicking on “my account” and choosing the cancel option. That will also give you the opportunity to sign up for the “light” version of their annual membership, which is under $20. That allows you to download up to 10 trail guides and have access to them for the entire year.
You can search your area without logging in, if you don’t mind seeing a few extra popups asking you to login or sign up for their free 2 week trial. You can find trails in your area, but you can get a lot more information about those trails when you are logged in. The first page that you are presented with upon login is the trail finder page. You can click on your state, search based on zip code or keywords, or look for one of the categories at the bottom of the page that suits your fancy. You’ll see the list of state and canadian trails, and the different activities that the site caters to.
Click through to the video if you want to see examples of the trail guides and how I have been using the site, and please let me know what you think of this format. The video is about 11 and a half minutes long, and will start playing once it has a small buffer downloaded. Is this too long? Would you prefer that I went into more detail? Is the file too large? Is the video itself too tall or too wide? Does it all work fine? This is a new medium for me so I hope that you have some good comments, either because they are positive and you liked it or that are constructive because there is something that I can do better next time.