Bob Downing

Summit County is getting a new trail-based Web app on Nov. 13.

That’s when ToTheTrails.com, a one-stop spot for trail information, will start up after a year of discussion and work.

The parties involved in the $360,000 project got together Tuesday morning at the Richard Howe House in downtown Akron to discuss the innovative civic technology project.

Initially, the app will provide information on trails in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Metro Parks, Serving Summit County to people with computers, tablets or mobile phones. Those parks together cover 44,000 acres, have more than 125 miles of trails and get 8 million visitors a year.

The Web app will include trail maps, descriptions, directions and other information desired by hikers, bicyclists, bird watchers, runners, paddlers and others.

Later, it will add trails from Summit County’s 31 local communities. Hudson, Twinsburg and Bath Township are eager to add their trail information to the site, officials said.

That means trail users will be able to get information on all local trails at one site, not multiple governmental sites, said Summit County spokesman Patrick Bravo.

He likened the new Web app to speaking directly with a park ranger to get the needed information. It can also be easily shared via Twitter, Facebook and email, he said.

The county envisions “thousands and thousands of trail users using the Web app” in the future, said county Executive Russ Pry.

“It’s another way for people to stay connected,” said Keith Shy, director-secretary of Metro Parks, Serving Summit County.

The local project is the first of its kind involving a county and a national park, said Dan Rice of the Akron-based Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition.

Core content will be updated quarterly by Summit County and project partners.

The public will also be able to submit comments, feedback and content tips as the site develops and grows. That will be possible by sending an email to Hello@ToTheTrails.com.

Mobile users will be able to access the site once the mobile version of ToTheTrails.com is released. Users accessing the website from a mobile phone will be asked if they’d like to save the site with an icon on their phone. The icon will then allow one-touch access to the site.

The Web app was largely put together by three fellows from Code for America: Alan Williams, Dan Avery and Katie Lewis.

It is a nonprofit group based in San Francisco that promotes putting IT skills to work on behalf of local governments in a movement known as Civic Tech.

The project was funded by a $250,000 grant from the John S. Knight and James L. Knight Foundation. The Akron Community Foundation also contributed.

Local partners including the city of Akron, Summit County, the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition, the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study provided the rest of the money.

Summit County and nine cities around the country were selected for the 10 civic tech projects.

A group of local IT volunteers is being assembled to help Summit County with ToTheTrails.com in the future.

Metro Parks, Serving Summit County, has its own park district Web app with about 8,000 users. The 33,000-acre federal park between Akron and Cleveland does not have it own Web app.

Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or bdowning@thebeaconjournal.com.