Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail Association last month launched a new website that could help to prevent hikers from getting lost on the 27 miles of CRATA trails around Lake Martin. The site at crata.org includes trail maps that will show a hiker’s location when GPS is enabled and the mobile device has a signal, said CRATA board member Walt Hutcheson, who developed the application.
“If you go to the new website, scroll down and click on ‘Maps and Directions,’ select the trail you want to hike. It will show you directions to get to the trailhead; and then, it will show your location on the trail map and give you turn-by-turn directions and distances while you are on the trail,” Hutcheson explained.
The site is designed to help hikers find their way along the trails and back to the parking lots, as some of the CRATA trails are remote, and a few hikers have even gotten lost.
“Especially in the Yates Lake area trails south of Martin Dam, we’ve had to go in and look for hikers,” Hutcheson said. “We’ve even gone in with volunteers from the Red Hill Fire Department to find folks.
“We interfaced with the Google maps and wrote some code for our maps. We have it set for the highest level, so if you are on a smartphone, have a signal and have GPS turned on, it will find you. When it asks you to allow crata.org to use your device’s location, you have to click on ‘Allow’ to turn the GPS on,” he said.
To make the program easy to find and use on the trail, mobile bookmark it on the smartphone, Hutcheson suggested.
“The idea was to help people find our trails from wherever they were but also to allow them to locate themselves on the map while hiking the trails, so they could find their way on the trails and how to get back out,” he added.
CRATA is a 501c3 organization of volunteers who design, build and maintain quality, well-marked footpath-only trails in the Lake Martin area. The CRATA system includes a historic fire tower and outdoor education center, along with more than 6 miles of trails at Smith Mountain; 7 miles of trails originating at Overlook Park above Martin Dam; a 4-mile challenging hike along the rocky bluffs opposite Lake Martin’s Chimney Rock; and some 10 miles of hiking trails on Forever Wild property at Yates Lake just south of Martin Dam on state Route 50.
The new site also allows viewers to volunteer or make donations online. Click on the ‘Help Us’ tab on the site’s home page to learn more about these opportunities.