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How To Use The Alltrails App To Follow Swarthmore Community Trails
Before getting into the details of using your smartphone to follow trails, please note: Conditions may have changed since a map was made. When using your smartphone in the field, always be aware of your surroundings and make sure you are safe.
The trails entered by the Swarthmore Senior Citizens Association (SSCA) are in the AllTrails app, and to see them you need to be in the app and “follow” the Swarthmore Community.
The following steps are intended to help you get out on a trail. Please send email to SwarthmoreTrails@gmail.com if you would like additional help.
To Download & Install the App and Find “Swarthmore Community”:
To Download & Install the App and Find “Swarthmore Community” (Download the app on your smartphone or tablet, NOT on your home computer.):
Apple iPhone or iPad: Go to the App Store
Android phone: Go to the Google Play store
Search (click on the magnifying glass) for AllTrails. When you find it (a green icon with a logo that looks like two mountain peaks) click on it. On an Apple device click on Get. Click on the free version and it will download.
Install the app on your smart phone. Click Install.
Start the app on your smart phone. Find the app (it will have the same green mountain logo, and may be installed in an Apps folder). Click on it.
Sign up for AllTrails. You will have to provide your name, an email address, and a password. You will need to allow AllTrails to access your location. This will allow the app to show you where you are on a trail.
Once you have an account:
choose “profile” on the bottom tab
click on “Swarthmore Community.” Or, in the search box, type “Swarthmore Community” and click “search” or “go,” to confirm your choice. You are now “following” the Swarthmore Community, which lets you see all the trails created by the SSCA.
click on “Maps,” and you’ll see the list of available trails. For help in choosing which trail you’d like to walk, read on.
To Choose and Use A Trail Map:
To help you choose which trail(s) to walk, each trail is described here.
Each trail’s description tells you what the trail’s emphasis is (e.g., gardens, architecture, history, exercise, etc.), whether it’s located in town, on campus, or in the Crum Woods, and how physically challenging it is. The description also includes a recommendation as to which map layer to use for that trail. Using map layers is described later in this document, under “Using Map Layers.” Note that choosing a map layer is not necessary; it is just something that can be helpful if it is not clear exactly where the route goes.
Once you’ve decided which trail you’d like to walk, simply scroll down the list till you find it, and tap on it.
When the map appears, use two fingers to “un-pinch” and adjust the size of the map to whatever is convenient for you. The lower part of the screen is a panel of elevation information; you can swipe down on it to tuck it mostly out of sight. After that, here’s what you’ll see:
The bold, curvy red line is the route. There is no set starting point or direction for the route; start wherever you want and walk in whichever direction you prefer. When the map is first displayed, North is up. There is a small, faint scale at the bottom right which provides a rough idea of how far things are apart.
The little yellow/orange dots are waypoints, which are points of interest with associated descriptive text. To see the descriptive text for a waypoint, just tap on that yellow/orange dot. To put away the descriptive text, tap the X on the right side of the text box.
In some of the maps, you may notice one or more small, red dots. Tapping on a dot will display a picture taken from that place (and any other pictures associated with that map).
Letters in boxes on a map have these meanings:
P = Parking
R = Restrooms
F = Food
E = Emergency phone
AllTrails uses a blue dot to show your current location on the map.
For trails on the Swarthmore College campus, you may notice some curvy dashed lines (which can be in black or red, depending on how the map was printed). Those dashed lines are the paved trail-like walkways that weave around the campus. A few sections of campus routes do not follow dashed lines; these sections are on a natural surface (like grass or dirt) or sidewalks.
That’s all there is to it! Enjoy your walk. If you have questions, and/or you’d like to learn some of the optional aspects, please read on.
Using Map Layers: AllTrails offer various kinds of background maps called “map layers.” You may find other map layers more helpful than the “AllTrails” layer that first appears. The “Terrain” layer is very helpful for trails in town, because it shows house outlines. The “OSM” layer is helpful for trails on the campus, because it shows campus buildings and walking paths very well. If you have problems following a route with either of these layers, consider trying the “satellite” layer. It shows your present location as photographed from above. As mentioned earlier, choosing a map layer is not necessary; it is just something that can be helpful if it is not clear exactly where the route goes.
➢To select a given map layer:
On an android:
click on the map you wish to follow
click on the green X on the map (lower right corner)
click on the stack of cards (right above the X)
tap any layer to make your route appear on that layer
On an iPhone:
click on the map you wish to follow
notice the two icons in the lower right corner of the screen; tap the lower one (which looks like a stack of 3 cards) and an 8-map layer of choices pops up
tap any layer to make your route appear on that layer.
➢To Set A New Default Map Layer:
If you have a favorite map layer, you can make it your default AllTrails layer on the app. To do this:
If your AllTrails app is open, close it
Now open the AllTrials app
Tap on “Settings”
Tap on “Default Map Layer”
Tap on your favorite layer
Tap “Close” (at top, left of screen).
How To Avoid Phone Battery Dying: When you use the AllTrails app, you may notice that your smartphone’s battery loses its charge faster than you expect. This is normal because the AllTrails app uses the phone’s GPS to determine your location. The GPS just needs more battery charge to do its thing. So, it is a good idea to charge up your phone before heading out to use the AllTrails app.
Ways To Minimize Data Usage: If you are concerned about how much data the AllTrails app uses, here are some ways you can minimize data usage:
while you are connected to Wi-Fi (probably at home?), tap the various trails and decide which one you want to walk. The process of calling up a trail on the phone uses data if you’re not on Wi-Fi, so check out the various trails when you’re connected..
if you want to see the photos that are stored with several of the trails, do that while you’re on Wi-Fi. Just like looking at maps, calling up the photos uses data if you’re not on Wi-Fi.
the nuclear option to reduce data usage is to upgrade to a Pro AllTrails subscription which lets you download maps when on Wi-Fi. After downloading the map(s), turn on airplane mode (which turns data usage off) when you’re walking the trail. A Pro subscription costs $30/year, or $60/3 years.
For the curious
Location Tracking Button: This button lets you change the behavior of the app to make it most useful in different situations. It isn’t necessary for using the app, but can be helpful. If you want to understand what the location tracking button can do for you, please read the explanation provided here.
OSM Maps: Learn about the Open Street map project on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenStreetMap
Send an email to SwarthmoreTrails@gmail.com to ask for help of any kind related to following Swarthmore Walks and Trails.
Swarthmore Walks and Trails is a project of the Swarthmore Senior Citizens Association in collaboration with the Swarthmore College Office of Sustainability. SSCA is partially funded through a grant from Swarthmore Borough.