BELLEISLE, N.S. — Consider it an online guide to outdoor adventure in Annapolis County.
The County of Annapolis has joined up with Ride with GPS, a free mobile app that allows users to record and share their cycling, hiking, paddling or ATV route, and has launched a webpage that will help residents and visitors plan their next outing.
The app saves location data for photos taken while recording journeys. When someone uploads their outing and photos, they will be able to see where each image was taken. The tool can help people chart their route for their own use or to share it with others.
The webpage is called [email protected] and is found on the municipality’s website. Users can click on any of the coloured lines to view the route. By clicking on View Route, they get the details and can access a send to device option, which will download the route to their device.
Doug Brown of Belleisle, an avid cyclist and owner of the Oakhaven Bike Barn, suggested to the municipality’s chief administrative officer David Dick that they take the project on. Brown said the technology is easy to use and can provide people with “turn-by-turn directions.”
He said his thinking was that if the municipality could digitize its paper information on outdoor adventures, the pamphlets they’ve been producing for years, it would be easier for tourists and seasonal residents to access while away.
It could inform them beforehand of the wide variety of recreational opportunities the area has to offer and get them thinking about routes they could travel during their next visit to Annapolis County.
“I think it’s an excellent mechanism to promote tourism,” Brown said. “If they don’t see the information until they get here, and they don’t have their bikes or canoes with them, then we’ve lost that opportunity.”
For example, he has kids in their 20s and 30s and he couldn’t say when the last time was that they picked up a paper map. He said his son is involved in cycling and the tourism industry and got Brown plugged into the Ride with GPS app. Brown said his wife is an avid paddler, so together they cover a lot of ground.
He said the goal of [email protected] is to increase all forms of alternative transportation, including active transportation, which will help address the climate emergency.
When it comes to Annapolis County’s vast array of trails and waterways, Brown said he believes the wealth of alternative transportation assets are largely untapped and underutilized. He said there are countless lakes, rivers and streams that are not used as much as they could be for recreation or transportation.
When it comes to the bicycle as an alternative means of transportation, Brown said there is ample opportunity in Annapolis County for people to increase its use.
This is especially true as motorists become more familiar with sharing the road and giving cyclists their due respect. Brown said this would only serve to make the practice safer.
Debra Ryan, the County of Annapolis’ community outreach and tourism manager, said David Hopkins in the municipality’s IT department played an integral role in getting the project started, uploading the county’s listings of various routes.
“This is really going to be a partnership with people who will share their hikes and their cycling, paddling and ATV adventures, and even snowmobiling,” Ryan said, pointing out they hope to have some snowmobile routes added this winter.
As of late September, [email protected] featured 75 mapped routes, three for ATVs, seven for hiking, 31 for cycling and 34 for paddling. Ryan said it’s a work in progress that will serve as a great showcase for the county.
With the Ride with GPS app, users can record a route and email it to [email protected] for the municipality to share.
Ryan said they hope people will also send in photos from their adventures, and there will be opportunities to win prizes by sharing routes.
Ryan said the municipality asks that people only share those routes and trails that are within the public domain or on land owned by the government.
She said they are currently working with other groups and individuals to share more routes and are excited about the potential to increase tourism.
There is also the potential of getting more residents involved in alternative transportation and, as the initiative progresses, there could be positive spin-offs for local businesses.
“There are so many backroads and hidden gems that people have been exploring for years, it would be wonderful to communicate this to others who, in turn, could share with future generations to come,” Ryan said.
Did you know?
– More than half of Annapolis County’s back country is owned by the Province of Nova Scotia, said Debra Ryan, the County of Annapolis’ community outreach and tourism manager.
– There are five wilderness areas and seven nature reserves within that geography.
– While there are some limitations imposed on protected areas, Ryan said there is a lot to explore.
– For example, Annapolis County has more than 220 lakes and waterways.