Maybe you thought that getting away from your cellphone and computer was the best part of going fishing or for a bike ride or a hike.

But for a number of Maine entrepreneurs, those devices are not something you need to escape to get into the natural world. They may even be the thing that gets you out the door.

For example, take Sled TRX. Maine has a world-class network of snowmobile trails that honeycomb scenic areas throughout the state. They are mostly built and maintained by local snowmobile clubs, making navigation a challenge for visitors.

Sled TRX is a website created by 22-year-old Jake Warn of Waterville, who created an online statewide map that helps people plan their snowmobile trips. Combining information from state and local officials and snowmobile clubs, the site helps people plan their routes and tips them to hidden gems that they would never have found on their own

A mobile app, which would give riders real-time information on the trail, is under development, Warn told Press Herald reporter Hannah LeClaire. And he is hoping to expand his idea to other states.

Maine inventors are trying to connect with investors for a variety of startups that have an outdoor recreation angle. Given the importance of the sector to Maine’s economy, that makes a lot of sense.


Outdoor recreation in Maine generated $2.3 billion in gross output in 2020 – $260 million of that from the manufacturing of outdoor recreation gear and equipment, according to a U.S. Department of Commerce report.

While the overall value declined during the first pandemic year, several activities saw significant increases in Maine, such as boating and fishing (which make up one category) and biking, which jumped 27 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

While the pandemic has been catastrophic for businesses that rely on indoor gathering such as theaters, bars, restaurants and event venues, outdoor activities are seen as much safer. That means more people who may not be as well versed in safe use of woodland trails and shorelines are venturing out.

This creates an opportunity for Mainers. The Yarmouth-based company Chimani, best known for mobile guides to the national parks, came out with a Maine guide last year. It features information about state parks, local parks, hikes, bike paths, land trusts and beaches as well as waterfalls and other unique geological features, along with carefully researched information and history.

Not all of the innovations are high tech, but they are reaching their customers through e-commerce marketplaces. One company, Tree Free Fires, cofounded by two Mainers, sells a portable canister that provides the experience of sitting around a campfire without the hassle and environmental impact of gathering wood.

The internet has unleashed an information revolution that has changed everything, fromwhat happens when we visit a doctor’s office to what’s on the shelves in a local supermarket.

It should be no surprise that something as important as outdoor recreation should become a focus of innovation as well. Tech may not make a walk in the woods any more relaxing, but if it can help get you on the trail, it’s a step in the right direction.

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