Posted on January 24, 2020 in Press Release

HOUGHTON, MI – January 22, 2020 – MI-TRALE (Michigan Trails and Recreation Alliance of Land and the Environment), a local non-profit organization whose mission is to advance the safe and responsible use of multi-use trails for both motorized and non-motorized trail recreationalists, is pleased to announce the release of their Free Michigan UP Trails app, available now for Android and iOS. This map app was designed to replace the prior existing paper maps that they used to distribute throughout United States.


“MI-TRALE had produced several paper maps and 2 volumes of a 140+ page trails map book which was very successful. We found soon after the maps or books were printed, the maps became out of date or services closed” said Donald Helsel of MI-TRALE. “The time and effort to produce products like this was unbelievable”.  Not only would the maps become outdated, but just-in-time updates on trail availability and conditions were just not feasible. But with the release of the Free Michigan UP Trails app, it “allows us to keep all the mapping and services data up to date for the users, almost real time”, resulting in the ability to ensure a fun and safe experience for trail users.

This project didn’t just happen overnight. MI-TRALE met with WUPPDR (Western Upper Peninsula Planning & Development Region) to discuss their plan to migrate their existing paper maps to a digital app. ”WUPPDR produced our map data” and we asked for “recommendations for developers that could help develop the map app that we were envisioning” said Donald. This led to an introduction to Lexul – a local mobile and web application development company and graduate of MTEC SmartZone’s incubator, located in Hancock, MI. “The Michigan UP Trails app provided Lexul with a great opportunity to publicly showcase our mapping and app development capabilities. Most of our work is with custom internal business applications that have proprietary technology and processes” said Eric Ollis, CEO of Lexul LLC. Since its release, they have seen over 5,000 downloads to date, with very few negative comments. 

The MI-TRALE team plans to continue adding other features and additional trails in the app as the Free Michigan UP Trails app gains more traction. They “foresee the addition of multiple recreational trails across Michigan and possibly other states as well” said Donald, given how Lexul was able to design the app for growth and flexibility. “We are always looking for additional beneficial features for our users” and one such idea for the future is “GPS route tracking” said Donald.  For now, the next time you think about hitting the trail, download the Free Michigan UP Trails app and give it a try. Be sure to give them feedback so that this resource can be the best it can be for our UP citizens and our visitors.

About MTEC 

Michigan Tech Enterprise Corporation (MTEC) is one of 21 SmartZone Incubators in the State of Michigan. MTEC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization working with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), its mission is to facilitate the creation and ongoing success of high-tech value propositions in conjunction with the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. Since 2003, the MTEC SmartZone has provided mentoring, technical support, and other services to local companies that have led to the creation of over 800 high-tech jobs in the Houghton and Hancock Michigan area.  


About MEDC 

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, in collaboration with more than 100 economic development partners, markets Michigan as the place to do business, assists businesses in their growth strategies, and fosters the growth of vibrant communities across the state. MEDC’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation initiative establishes Michigan as the place to create and grow a business by providing high-tech start-up companies with access to a variety of critical resources, such as funding and expert counsel, from ideation to maturation. For more on MEDC Entrepreneurship & Innovation, visit