Other apps are out there.

AllTrails. Strava. Hiking Project. Go-to mountain-biking sources Singletracks and MTB Project.

But Colorado government is claiming one app to rule them all.

Allow the state Department of Natural Resources to introduce you to COTREX, short for Colorado Trail Explorer. Upon a free download, here are the numbers promised in the palm of your hand: 39,829 miles of trails, 2,350 trailheads and up-to-date information from 236 land managers across federal, state, city and county levels.

That last part is what makes COTREX different, says Alex Dean, who has overseen the half-a-million-dollar project three years in the making.

Other apps “have some data but not all,” Dean said. “And sometimes it’s not from a trusted source.”

COTREX heads into its first summer with a robust base of maps and profiles covering length, elevation, difficulty, terrain type and rules streamlined from the land manager responsible. The expectation is for users to build more data over time — trip reports and tips common to other apps.

Dean was on hand to announce COTREX at last month’s Partners in the Outdoors Conference, the annual event in Breckenridge bringing together land managers from around the West. He recalled some from New Mexico and Arizona approaching him, wondering how their states could develop such a resource.

“This is really setting a precedent,” Dean said. “We are the first state in the nation to do a project of this scale.”

The app is a byproduct of then-Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Colorado the Beautiful Initiative in 2016, meant to put the next generation of Coloradans within 10 minutes of trails, parks and open spaces.

“It’s one thing to build trails,” Dean said, “but there’s also the need for awareness for people who may not know there’s a trail available just up the road. I think this is that awareness tool.”

He also envisions it becoming “a dispersal tool.”

Say someone arrives at the packed parking lot of a trailhead. One could pull up the app, Dean said, “and it would be ideal in my mind that they’d be able to find something else 5 miles down the road equally as great.”

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