It’s no surprise that Abbotsford fitness fanatics love Mill Lake Park and the trails on Sumas Mountain, but public data from a popular app show that several other local parks see few visitors, despite their natural appeal.
Strava, a fitness app that tracks users’ locations and routes, has made news this week after it was noticed that its global heat map reveals sensitive information about the habits of military personnel around the world. The app’s online map uses data from users’ millions of activities to show popular routes around the world, but concerns have been raised that information on the fitness habits of military personnel could be used by terrorist groups planning an attack.
There are no such concerns in Abbotsford. But the map does reveal how popular — or unpopular — certain routes are with locals who use Strava, which is one of the most popular fitness apps.
The most frequently travelled locations aren’t a surprise. Mill Lake and Sumas Mountain are hot spots, as are the roads that users take to get to the popular trails. Perhaps surprisingly, the lower reaches of Stration Road, on the western reaches of Sumas Mountain, at the end of Clayburn Road is perhaps the busiest spot in all of Abbotsford.
Runners and hikers travel the road and a connecting trail to and from the Auguston subdivision, while cyclists use it to ride to the to reach Sumas Mountain Road.
A recent survey conducted by the city showed Abbotsford’s trail system had some of the highest participation rates of any amenity. But the Strava data show that some local trails don’t get many visitors — or at least visitors using the Strava app.
Ravine Park, behind Abbotsford secondary school, is an urban forest just minutes from downtown and surrounded by apartments. But only faint pink lines — denoting single trips — cut through the park. Old Clearbrook Park, which features a loop trail through mature trees and has a trailhead off of Horn Street, and Maclure Park, north of Maclure Road, have only a slightly more radiant glow on the orange-tinged heatmap.
By comparison, the trails in Downes Bowl Park glow with activity. With all the positive data, though, comes the possibility that they are the result of extremely active, but relatively few, individual users.