Lost your Avon Trail Guide or not in possession of the latest edition? New to the area and wondering where hiking trails can be found? Not sure where to park to begin your hike? Worry not. The Avon Trail digital map  will soon be here with features to help make your  hiking experience rewarding.

President Bernard Goward and other key Avon Trail members worked in partnership with Ondago, a Quebec-based digital map software developer, to create the digital version of the Avon Trail Guide. It is one of many maps available for hikers to download free on their mobile phones or mobile digital tablets. The digital map uses the built in GPS in your mobile device. If your device can receive a signal, then your GPS location is known and identified in the app. Data is not needed to use the app while on the trail.

“It’s very exciting and we all look forward to expanding our reach to hikers who carry a phone”, says  Bernard.  “We have worked with Ondago for most of 2018 and will be making the app available for download free of charge very soon”.

I had access to a demo version, which I downloaded to my iPhone from the Apple store. The Avon Trail is divided into two separate maps: Avon Trail – St. Marys to Amulree – Part 1 of 2 and Avon Trail – Amulree to Conestogo – Part 2 of 2.  You need to download both maps.

The maps show the Avon Trail in red and side trails in blue. On the map, dark blue kilometre markers begin on part 1 with 0.0 and end with 60.7. The dark blue dot surrounded by a white circle is your mobile device GPS marker, indicating your position. Click on it and you will see your current longitude-latitude coordinates.

Should you lose sight of your dark blue locator dot, look for the white banner at the bottom of the map (if you are using an Apple mobile device.) The first icon on the left is a GPS compass marker. Clicking it will take you to your GPS marker on the map.

There are many informative legend markers, one being the green P surrounded by a blue enclosed white circle, which denotes a parking location on the trail. The legend icon is the second from the left on the app’s white banner. When clicked, a pop-up window appears showing the map legends: trails, kilometre markers, points of interest, parking and no-parking markers among others. Click on any of the legend markers to move control to that location on the map.

The “Detail” for the marker will display when you click the blue marker directional arrow. I love it! Click on the Amulree Village icon and find  the origin of the village name. Click on the Wildwood Dam and Sulphur Spring icon to learn that the sulphur spring slightly downstream of the dam runs year-round. Each icon brings something new to view and know (especially for someone like me, new to the region).

You’ll use this legend icon frequently. It is a feature rich with useful hiker information. For instance, you can click on a side trail (marked in blue on each map legend) to find out its location on the greater trail and its actual length.

Clicking anywhere on the red trail opens a pop-up with a directional arrow. Click it to see an overview of the trail, with  information for planning a hike.

I have walked sections of the trail carrying my mobile phone. Once on the trail, the blazes should be sufficient to keep you on track. But when in doubt, you can check the app to see your GPS location. If not on the red line (or blue line for a side trail) then you know to look around to get back on the trail.

The map is easier to use if you click on the Display & Brightness section in your phone settings, and change the Auto-Lock to a higher setting (say, Never). This will keep you from having to re-click on the Ondago icon when your device times out. When done with the map, reset the auto-lock setting or your battery will drain.

Does the  Avon Trail digital map  have all the features of other digital trail maps on the market? No. Does the “as the crow flies” message frustrate my wife who claims she is not a crow nor can she fly? Yes.  Will this digital trail map  tell you how far from the trail you are, if you’re lost in the woods? Yes, thankfully.  Overall, the features are helpful and easy to use. Many hours of development and testing went into the app’s creation, and we are grateful to the Avon Trail executive  for their diligence in getting this accomplished.

Final conclusion, our Avon Trail digital map gets two thumbs up. Install it on your mobile device, lace up your hiking shoes, explore the trail and have fun!

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