A Massachusetts Trailmap?

Opportunities for Regional Collaboration

A Presentation for MARPA


What is Trailmap?

Trailmap is MAPC's dataset of current and proposed footpaths, shared-use paths, and on-road bicycle facilities; and the website where that dataset is published for public use. Development of has been funded through UPWP and foundation funding.



Current Trailmap Goals

Resource for advocates to coordinate expansion of trails and paths in MA

Comprehensive and up-to-date dataset of all trails and paths in MA

A resource for residents to plan trips and activities on MA trails and paths




Not Currently Trailmap Goals

A resource for tracking trips and personal progress

A resource to share stories about outdoor activity on trails or paths

Best resource for planning outdoor trips and activities on trails and paths

Trail mapping in other regions

All Massachusetts RPAs manage their own datasets of trails and facilities in their region. A statewide compilation of these datasets has been a long-running goal.


Maintaining this data can be laborious and expensive, especially when we have to recreate data that already exists but is unavailable (e.g. land trust or municipal data.)


RPAs have previously discussed data standards, but have not been formalized. Technical infrastructure and protocols for merging and updating datasets has not yet been developed.


MassDOT maintains roadway inventory of which includes bike lanes on roads, and shared use paths; however their purview does not extend to off-road natural surface trails or urban parks


MassGIS publishes data relevant to trail mapping, but has not been funded to develop statewide trail data.  

Recent Developments

Conine Family Foundation approached MAPC to offer us funding to improve the Trailmap website experience. MAPC has since meet with other states to learn about their trail management models and websites.

DCR Rec Trails Program encouraged MAPC to coordinate an application to support a statewide trail database. Program had been hesitant to fund individual RPAs and indicated a preference for a coordinated effort

 Fall 2021

 Dec 2021

Jan 2022

MAPC convened meeting with GIS and Planning staff from other RPAs to discuss the opportunity of a statewide effort and application to DCR for funding.

Potential Joint Activities

  • Formalization of data standards
  • Development of shared editing / data management infrastructure
  • Engagement of stakeholders to unlock more private & municipal datasets
  • Joint fundraising to support additional RPA data creation, policy, and advocacy efforts
  • Rebranding & expansion of Trailmap website to cover all of Massachusetts
  • Development of additional Trailmap features

DCR Funding Opportunity

RPA involvement will require staff resources. DCR Trails grant can be shared with the other RPAs to support their role in this effort. Is this of interest?  

Various governance & management options are available for a shared data infrastructure and dataset, ranging from an "advisory committee" option to a more formal consortium structure with shared investments. What works best for RPAs?  

If there are concerns about MAPC having a leading role in data management, what other alternatives should be on the table?

What level of effort are RPAs willing to put in to data updates and management going forward?  


Key Questions 

With foundation funding secured for 2022-24,

MAPC plans to upgrade site features 

Let's look at some new features that could help achieve our goals.  

Tooltip & Trail Page Info

Provide more than trail location data. Interfaces that allow for users to connect with trail activities, trail managers, planning and related events.

Support & Supplemental Pages

Help connect partners, provide more information about trails and paths to empower their expansion.   

Filters & Search

Provide ability to find trails and paths by desired activity or difficulty.

Map Markers & Trail Display

Improve visualization and interactivity of map

User Accounts & Input

Enable an interactive experience for users to track, save, comment, and suggest.

Title Text

Blue = Predicted route to school bike/walk commutes

School Commute Infrastructure Planning

Comprehensive Plans

Integrations for Planning

Enable the data to be used in planning and advocacy work.

Network Analyisis

Integrations for Third Parties

If open, standard, and available, additional parties can leverage the data to reach the residents and help them plan outdoor trips and activities

All of these features rely on an underlying infrastructure of people, process, & data.

We believe together we can make a better and more sustainable process.

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Together we can solve how we manage a community, standardize data, and enable different features of uses. 


Standards and open availability will help the dataset grow. Leveraging tools that help lower maintenance cost and broaden the community. 

No one site will have all features for all users, we can prioritize the needs of users and add features to an application that meet those needs.



Like a houseplant, for a web service to survive it needs to be cared for.

RPAs can together identify the organizational structure that works best for us all to achieve a comprehensive and up-to-date dataset while sharing and minimizing overall maintenance efforts.

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The forthcoming Department of Conservation and Recreation funding provides us an opportunity to work together to solve these challenges.  

Building on the work all RPAs havealready done to date.




Users Decide

What Features

Are Included

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Application Needs




Like a houseplant...

web services survive when cared for

Community Data Collection & Entry

Considered Earth's most valuable resource

it's all about the data

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Data Maintenance & Sharing

There are many improvements to Trailmap, that could help make progress towards achieving the application's goals

Prioritizing those improvements... What are the priority needs?

Framework of Needs

Build the Community

Grow and open the dataset

Add Features for Users

Standards and availability will help dataset grow 

Like a houseplant to survive it needs to be watered, in this case, we in GIS data (Regional planning?) world can share that responsibility and keep dynamic

While no site will have all features for all users, we can prioritize needs of users and add features to Trailmap that meet those needs.

Community Data Collection & Entry

Data Maintenance & Sharing

Data Display

miscellaneous 37 final

Add Features for Users

No site will have all features for all users, we can prioritize the needs of users and add features to an application that meet those needs.

Grow and open the dataset

Standards and open availability will help the dataset grow. Leveraging tools that help lower maintenance cost and broaden the community. 

Build the Community

Like a houseplant to survive it needs to be watered. Regional Planning Agencies together can play a critical role in achieving a comprehensive and up-to-date dataset



Current MAPC Data Collection & Entry

Current MAPC Data Management

miscellaneous 37 final


Currently MAPC Data



& Entry

MARPA Trailmap Road Ahead


MARPA Trailmap Road Ahead

MARPA Presentation on Trailmap1/21/2022

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