What is Trail Router?
Trail Router helps you discover new running routes. Our routing algorithm prefers paths that go through parks, forests or by water, and avoids busy roads wherever possible.
How do I use Trail Router?
Just tap on the map to set a start point, and Trail Router will automatically create you a 5km (3.1 mile) round-trip route (one that starts and ends at the same location). You can adjust the desired distance using the drop down list.
You can also manually create your own route. Select the 'Point to Point' option, and then tap the map to set your waypoints. Alternatively, you can use the box at the top-left to search for locations.
Sometimes we will generate multiple routes for you. In this case, use the left and right arrows at the bottom of the screen to jump between them.
By default, Trail Router will create a route that follows 'green' paths and roads. You can switch off in the settings menu - just untick 'Prefer green areas'. In this menu you can also ask to avoid hilly areas or unlit streets.
Why did you make it?
It was born out of a frustration I had whilst travelling frequently on business trips to new cities. I'd often want to go for a run, but didn't know the city and was fairly short on time. This typically led to me manually plotting a running route on Google Maps or MapMyRun, which was a time consuming and manual process if you wanted to find a picturesque route that was actually runnable (i.e. not blocked off by impassable roads) and fit within my desired distance.
Essentially, I wanted to be able to say "Give me a round-trip route that's roughly 10km, and features as much nature as possible". This is one of the things that Trail Router can do.
The route that's been generated for me is way too long, why?
Trail Router favours greenery/nature in its routes, at the expense of distance. You can dial down the effects of this by clicking on the settings cog and unticking "Prefer green areas". Even with this unticked it will still slightly bias towards greenery (so should avoid main roads where possible), but the route will be far more direct.
I've discovered a strange route, how do I report an error?
Please get in touch, and include a link to the faulty route and a description of what's wrong with it. Every report is reviewed and replied to.
The route being suggested includes a road that is unsafe for runners, why?
Trail Router should never send you down a road that is illegal to be on. If it does, please let me know.
However, just because a road is legal to walk on, it doesn't mean it's safe to do so. Trail Router uses OpenStreetMap as its data source for routing information. Openstreetmap supports the concept of tags that can be applied to roads to indicate their suitability for pedestrians. For example, a 'sidewalk' tag can be added to indicate the presence or lack of a sidewalk/pavement. However, in many parts of the world, tagging data is very incomplete. This can lead to the routing algorithm picking roads that may be unsafe. This problem appears to be particularly acute in North America, perhaps because of a historical car-centric culture, or perhaps just because that's where most Trail Router users are!
The good news is that you can help improve the quality of Openstreetmap data, and thus the route suggestions from Trail Router. You can submit a correction via Trail Router directly: just click on the help menu button, then click "Report an issue". Alternatively, you can download the StreetComplete Android app to make corrections directly by yourself.
If you're making your own corrections in OpenSreetMap, then the following will be useful to you. Trail Router will never use a primary, secondary or tertiary road that has a "sidewalk=no" tag. We suggest using this tag on clearly unsafe roads.
Please note that any corrections to OpenStreetMap may take a few weeks to show up in Trail Router, as we only periodically refresh our source data.
I have an idea for a cool new feature, can you add it?
Maybe! Please get in touch.
Are the routes suitable for cycling?
Maybe, but please do not rely on it - at least not for road bikes. We use the tags associated with roads and paths (called "ways" in Openstreetmap terminology) to determine whether it is accessible by foot. We include hiking trails as being accessible by foot, and these will often be unsuitable for bikes. There are a different set of tags that indicate a way's suitability for cycling, and we are not yet using those. If there is demand, then perhaps we will introduce a cycling mode in the future.
What do you track and log?
We log each routing request and response, which means that we record:
- Your IP address
- The route you requested (e.g. start and end point)
- The route(s) we suggested to you
We use this information to track down and fix bugs. We also use it to see how many people are generating routes from different countries - just for our own interest!
We do not make use of tracking cookies or analytics tools, such as Google Analytics. We do not share any of the information we collect with any third party.
Is there an Android/iOS app?
An Android app is available on Google Play.
An iOS app is not available yet, but is in development. Stay tuned for updates.
Note that the main web application at https://trailrouter.com has already been optimised to work with mobile browsers, so you should find that it works well already without the need to install an app.
What's new with Trail Router?
You can check out the release notes to find out.
Trail Router would not be possible without the following open source projects: