Photo by Margaret Stanley, Allegheny County Photography.

Hikers in the Pittsburgh area can get the most out of local trails this summer with a new and free smartphone app.

Allegheny County recently launched a Trails App — officially called the Allegheny County Parks Trails app — that enables users to discover and navigate more than 180 miles of trails within nine county parks. The map-based, GPS-enabled app also provides specific details on the length, elevation and difficulty level of every type of trail, whether it be blazed, unmarked or paved.

Other features include the ability to check weather conditions from the National Weather Service. Planned updates will soon show the locations of restrooms, parking lots, shelters and other park facilities.

In a press release, Council Member John Palmiere, Chair of County Council’s Parks Committee, says, “Having a resource such as this app which makes the users’ experience better, safer and more enjoyable ensures that residents and visitors have a good, positive interaction with our parks system.”

Photo by Margaret Stanley, Allegheny County Photography.
Settlers Cabin Park. Photo by Margaret Stanley, Allegheny County Photography.

The Allegheny County Division of Computer Services worked with Trail Pittsburgh (formerly known as the Pittsburgh Trails Advocacy Group), county park rangers and ESRI, a geographic information systems (GIS) mapping software company, to develop the app. Allegheny County GIS manager Eli Thomas served as the project manager, and says users can expect the most accurate, up-to-date information from the app.

“If we make a change today, it will be reflected in the app by tomorrow, without users having to download any updates or upgrades on the app,” says Thomas. “The trails will be shown in the application live as we edit them.”

The county will continue to work with its partners to ensure any new trail designs are added to the maps. They also welcome feedback from users, which can be submitted through the information button on the app.

The Trails App is now available to download for free in the Apple App and Google Play stores.

Amanda Waltz is a freelance journalist and film critic whose work has appeared locally in numerous publications. She writes for The Film Stage and is the founder and editor of Steel Cinema, a blog dedicated to covering Pittsburgh film culture. She currently lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and oversized house cat.