State's COTREX app gets added features since fall release 

click to enlarge cotrex_logo.png
Back in November I wrote about the release of Colorado Parks and Wildlife's Colorado Trails Explorer (COTREX) cell phone app, which is an outgrowth of CPW's COTREX website.  At the time, I thought that the app was a vast improvement over the mobile version of the website, and a worthy tool and resource for hikers, cyclists, equestrians and other outdoor enthusiasts. Colorado is the first state in the country to produce its own free trails app that includes all motorized and non-motorized users.

During the winter, the app was updated with additional features such as "tablet support, twitter integration, the ability to share custom made routes, a satellite imagery layer, and the ability to put in short-term non-seasonal closures (like trailhead construction)", according to Alex Dean, Trails and Recreation Project Manager for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.  Future enhancements to the app will add winter motorized and non-motorized trails, Dean Added.

I have used the COTREX app and the companion website during the intervening months, and still find it be the best statewide app for trail information. While no map or source of trail information can be 100% accurate 100% of the time, CPW's close working relationship with land managers means that information is generally accurate and up-to-date.  I found few instances of missing or grossly inaccurate information. Users can report inaccurate trail information through the app or website, which CPW will confirm with the land manager and then update the app's data. Only official, recognized trails are included in the app, so your favorite rogue or social trail won't make it to the app.

Since we don't live in a perfect world, there are a few minor drawbacks. While the app allows the user to zoom in on a map, the tiny type size accompanying a trail or feature of the map doesn't increase in size, making it tough to read for people who need a little help (i.e. old guys, like me).  According to Dean, an option to increase type size is being considered for future versions. One of the biggest benefits of the app that can't be overstated, is the ability to download maps directly to your phone so that it can be used effectively when out of cell phone range. But, when using off-line maps, the measuring tool only measures the straight line distance between two points and not the actual trail distance. To measure the actual trail distance, the user has to select multiple points - such as at curves - to get the actual trail distance. When connected to the internet, the measuring tool will snap to the trail and give actual trail distance. According to Dean, adding the ability to measure actual trail distance on downloaded maps would greatly increase the download size. An upcoming tutorial about the measuring tool will clarify the difference in the map tool when online or downloaded.

The app is available for both Android and Apple devices. I have used it on devices running on both platforms and it works great. 

The years-long paving of the west-side of Cottonwood Pass, which connects Buena Vista with Gunnison continues into it's third year this summer. The pass is closed to the west of the summit in Gunnison County, with the newly paved road expected to open by August 12, 2019, according the Federal Highway Administration, which has been bankrolling the majority of the project. The parking lot at the summit is expected to stay open for the most part during the remaining construction work.

The section of the popular Devils Playground Trail that runs from the Pikes Peak Highway to the summit of Pikes Peak, will be temporarily closed from midnight to 6pm on June 30th for the running of the Pikes Peak Hill Climb Race, according to a notice issued by the US Forest Service.  If you are considering this route to climb America's Mountain, plan accordingly. This closure is not related to the reconstruction project of the trail below the Pikes Peak Highway.
Be Good. Do Good Things.

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for more than 26 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.


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