We have all experienced this at some stage; you’re hiking down a trail that becomes overgrown, the sharp Fynbos is lashing at your shins and moments later you’re basically leopard crawling while cursing beratingly, through a Sugarbush tunnel that’s grown over the path at chest height. Or what about that time when you were crossing a short wooden bridge with a few broken planks thinking “They should fix that!” and simply carrying on? To assist hiking safety, accessibility and conservation, we have launched the ‘Trail Issue Alert’ function on the Forge App and website, enabling you to report trail issues you encounter with ease.
The Trail Issue Alert function allows app users to report issues directly from the app via a simple form. Issues that can be logged include:
Damaged or missing trail infrastructure (like erosion logs and boardwalks),
Overgrown or closed paths and,
Forge map discrepancies (incorrect or out-of-date information/data).
The alert form includes a map where you can pinpoint the exact location of the issue and an image upload option to enhance issue descriptions. Alerts submitted are instantly received by Forge, allowing us to update our digital maps swiftly and inform the relevant conservation authority where possible. Check out the alert form:
Access the Trail Issue Alert on the Forge website menu under 'Outdoor Toolbox'.
South Africa has an extensive trail network. The Table Mountain range on the Cape Peninsula alone has over 1 400 km of trails, while our Forge maps currently cover just over 5 500 km (and we’ve only just started!). Keeping our maps up-to-date is a top priority for us to ensure that we provide accurate and reliable information. As we grow, however, this will become an even greater challenge.
Forge has been the official digital hiking maps partner of CapeNature which is responsible for managing provincial nature reserves in the Western Cape. As our relationship has developed, we have realised that we can aid communication between trail users and managers, by empowering users to assist with conservation efforts by crowdsourcing and sharing information via up-to-date maps freely available on the Forge App. The ‘Trail Issue Alert’ aims to bridge the gap between trail users and trail managers.
Damaged trail infrastructure and insufficient maintenance with broken communication lines between managers and users can make trail users’ blood boil and foster resentment towards conservation authorities. Fortunately, there are plenty of amazing ‘Friends of’ groups across South Africa - JoziTrails, Friends of Klipriviersberg and Friends of Table Mountain to name a few - doing commendable work keeping trails maintained and upholding communication between users and managers. We see the Trail Issue Alert system as being a useful tool to help these engaged groups continue to carry out their great work by making information gathering easier and more accurate.
The Trail Issue Alert is (at the time of writing) in beta testing and we encourage the hiking community to make use of it, provide feedback and assist in expanding the functionality of the tool. Whilst CapeNature is the only existing trail management entity officially partnering with Forge, it is hoped that this tool and other safety features of the Forge App will entice more entities involved in managing South Africa’s trail network to come on board.