Six versions, five hikes, two hours of driving and 71 photos. One final website.

Creating the Top 5 Project was one of the most time-intensive projects I’ve taken on this semester.

In addition to writing code, the project required sketches, wireframes, content creation, and research to determine which trails provided truly accessible trails for differently-abled individuals.


Planning and Sketches

I’ll admit, I was a bit ambitious with my first sketch. The original idea was to create a map specific to each location that would give drive times to get from Ohio University’s campus to the trail, and that would also have the trails of each location outlined.

Though time constraints and difficulty with MapBox hindered my original idea, I was still able to keep the layout and general theme consistent when creating more advanced sketches in Adobe XD.


Adobe XD is my favorite program to use when creating mockups for websites because I’m able to see exactly how objects will fit on pages of different sizes, and it gives me an idea of how to scale images and text to get the visual flow I’m looking for.


Content Creation

Though a seemingly simple task, finding the time to go out and hike the trails and collect photographs proved the hardest part of the project. The weather was a bit unforgiving, raining with such regularity that it seemed like the trails were muddy for the entire month of October.

I ended up with over 150 photos, edited it down to 71 edited images, then decided on the final 30 to use in the site.


Research

Having been hiking many of these trails for years, a lot of the information covered in the project came from personal experience. I’ve been eaten alive by mosquitoes at Ora A. Anderson Nature Trail, gotten lost leaving Old Man’s Cave and have accidentally taken my elderly Dad to the most challenging trail in Hocking Hills. The latter experience brought to my attention the importance knowing where to find accessible trails so that I can enjoy my favorite activity with friends of all abilities.

Athens County celebrated the opening of Blackhaw Trail in Strouds Run in October 2018. It’s the first local accessible nature trail, excluding the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway. Ash Cave and Conkle’s Hollow are two options within Hocking Hills.

“Often, people with disabilities are segregated from the community without people realizing that it’s going on. It’s so nice to have one [a trail] locally that I can get to in 10 minutes rather than driving 45 minutes to get to.”

Davey McNelly

Unfortunately, I found that most trails in southeast Ohio are not accessible, and some of them that are, including the Blackhaw Trail, may become inaccessible during wet seasons. While visiting the trails to take pictures, I tried to keep accessibility in mind and only give the icon to those trails that are truly accessible.

Research Sources:
https://www.accessiblenature.info/?page_id=389
https://www.thepostathens.com/article/2018/10/blackhaw-trail-strouds-run-state-park-new-trail
https://www.traillink.com/stateactivity/oh-wheelchair-accessible-trails/
Pull quote used is from The Post


Coding and Final Project

The largest hurdle I ran into while coding the Top 5 project was creating the slideshows – with 9 different slideshows featuring 30 images, it was hard to keep everything straight.

Adding the map also posed some problems, having first had the geojson file added as a new data layer in MapBox, then later realizing I was able to get more functional popups when the geojson data was imported through simple js.