The TrailsMV app had its genesis on a rambling up-Island hike.

“The idea started on a walk with Alan Rappaport, chair-elect of our board of directors,” said Adam Moore, president of the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation. “We got a bit lost in the woods off King’s Highway in Chilmark while trying to find a Sheriff’s Meadow property.”

While backtracking onto their route, the pair got to talking about how to make Island trails more accessible. Eventually Alan exclaimed: “If only there was an app for that!” The idea for TrailsMV was born.

The app is a collaborative project, containing over 200 miles of trails from all Island conservation groups. It was released in 2018, but in 2020 project manager Nancy Tutko began a major revamp. She was uniquely situated to work on such a project, having edited Will Flender's Walking Trails of Martha's Vineyard guidebook.

"Flender was my intern at the Vineyard Conservation Society," Nancy explains. "He started walking the Island trails back when he was 14."

When Flender began his survey, he had to manually track each trail with a surveyor's wheel, but technology has progressed considerably since the late 90s. Chris Seidel, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission’s cartographer, suggested to Nancy that they develop the new version of the TrailsMV app using the Arc-GIS geospatial software, a cloud-based mapping and geographic data analysis system.

“ArcGIS is used by most conservation groups and towns on the Island,” Nancy says, “so it enables more collaboration and easier updating.”

The software's capabilities, Nancy explains, meshed well with their targets for the new version. “We saw an increased use of the app during the pandemic,” she says, “but had difficulties updating it with new features that we wanted.” They teamed up with developer Blue Raster to implement the new technology; the company plans to present their efforts to other GIS developers at the Esri User Conference later this year. The new software will allow the TrailsMV app to up- date more frequently.

The updated TrailsMV app is free to all and useful both to novice hikers hoping to not get lost on winding trails and to experts, who can take advantage of its excursion routes. (Once downloaded, no wifi is needed as GPS guides the way.) More excursions, which string together smaller trails into one continuous stretch, have been added to this newest version.

Two of the more recently added excursions – the Aquinnah Headlands and the African American Heritage Trail – have incorporated the Island’s cultural history, something that Adam and Nancy hope to continue. The new version also includes event listings for the Island’s conservation properties.

TrailsMV will continually be updated in coming months. Plans for future updates include a feature to track and upload your trips, and one to string together your own excursions.

The project was sponsored by Cape Cod 5, The Edey Foundation, The MV Bank Charitable Foundation, the Farm Neck Foundation and the MV Community Foundation along with individual donors.

Find TrailsMV in the App Store. Or find more information at