Saluki Innovation Competition - 2015

SITrails | Discover beautiful hiking spots right here in Southern Illinois.

By Jeremy Packer

  • 0 votes

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Please provide a few sentences to sum up the most important aspects of your App.

One of the driving factors of attendance at SIU is the scenic Shawnee forest that is a campus neighbor of ours. Students experience campus and fall in love, but there are many students who still have no idea that these beautiful spots, and trails exist.  


Please provide a description of your App in 500-1,000 words. Be sure to include at least 1) what it does, 2) why people will want it (benefits), and 3) how you will sustain it (explain business model).

SITrails is an Android application created to help the community and students discover beautiful trails and hiking spots right in their backyard of Southern Illinois. SITrails offers listings of great spots to choose from, along with displaying helpful information for each trail such as: Integrated Google Maps driving directions, Trail Maps, Pictures, Official Handouts, Tips, and more!  Our goal is to make connecting with nature a more accessible experience, and to provide users with a helpful utility to assist them in their outdoor adventures.  The Shawnee is a huge part of our surrounding area, and the benefits of drawing attention to it will be increased physical activity, increased tourism, and an overall more aware, healthier, campus.

There are countless students and visitors to the Southern Illinois area who have no idea how close some of the most beautiful National Parks and Forest Preserves in the Midwest are to them.  Unfortunately, many students wind up graduating and leaving Carbondale without ever having set foot in a National Park.  We think that one of the reasons why, is that there is no one comprehensive list that outlines all of the outdoor pursuits this region has to offer.  By providing directions, trail maps, taking wonderful photos, and detailing information about each location, we hope to help facilitate amazing experiences in nature, much like the ones that inspired us to create this app. 

Who is going to benefit from using SITrails? Students, families, tourists, outdoor enthusiast, pretty much anyone who has a desire to go out and experience nature.  We would like to detail locations and offer options that appeal to any age group or skill level.  We find that many times the reason why people don’t venture out to hike is because of a lack of knowledge or a misconception of what awaits them once they leave the familiarity of a city. 

To begin with, we will focus mainly on single-day hiking trails, since that is what most of our initial anticipated user base will be using.  The first several spots we will be providing content for are: 

  • The Arboretum, 
  • Campus Lake, 
  • Giant City, 
  • Little Grand Canyon, 
  • Cedar Lake, and 
  • The Panther Den.  

As the app progresses, we would like to expand to include locations that are suited for things like rope climbing, cliff diving, fishing, overnight camping, multi-day backpacking, mountain biking, and swimming.  Some of things that we will be emphasizing in our content for the app are SAFETY; the necessary precautions needed while hiking, as well as the importance of leaving no trace and respecting the environment. 

Another very important part of SITrails will be the social and community aspect of the app.  We would like to foster an online and local community that does things like: 

  • organize group hikes, 
  • plan outdoor events,
  •  post user photos/videos, 
  • and communicate information/leave reviews about the trails (via the app and social media). 

  There are plans of creating a Facebook and Twitter page, as well as eventually constructing a webapp to partner the mobile application. 

SITrails will prove to be a valuable resource for the Southern Illinois area, and we look forward to helping you connect with nature!

Get SI Trails on Google Play :


Primary Contact


  • Jeremy Packer

    Lead Developer

    Founder and CEO of @LifeAtSouthern, Entrepreneur, Mobile Developer and Aspiring Software Engineer.



Team Members


  • Mohammad Albandi


    Junior in Computer Science

  • Randall Brownlee

    Content Writer / Promotions

    Senior in Information Systems Technology