Outdoors apps to check out before your next trip

Before I begin this post, I should make something clear. I take my phone with me when I hike and backpack.

Don’t give me that look. I promise never to interrupt your solitude with my ringing phone. If I’m on a trail, my phone is off or on airplane mode.

But I still bring it with me on every hike. It’s a perfect resource. For less than 4 ounces, I can carry as many guidebooks with me as I could ever want: birds, wildflowers, trees, animal tracks. It’s brilliant.

I’ve come across a few nifty apps lately worth sharing.

Washington Trails Association’s Trailblazer: This is a great app for anyone who likes to hike. I wrote about it earlier here.

Washington Wildflowers: This app was produced by the Washington Herbarium at the Burke Museum. It’s a lovely app. You can search for flowers using a variety of categories, including flower color, growth habit, location and more. Read more and find links to buy it here.

Bird watching: The Nature Conservancy has a good roundup here of bird guide apps: Audubon Birds, iBird Pro, National Geographic Birds, Person Birds and Sibley eGuide to Birds. I personally use and love iBird Pro, but all of these sound like they’d do the job.

Peaks: This app could be pretty amazing, if it works. The idea is it helps you identify peaks in the mountain ranges you can see. I’m going backpacking this weekend, and I’ll definitely be trying it out. You can read about it here.

Cornell Guide to Bird Sounds: This isn’t an app, but it’s still pretty nifty. Cornell has a mind-blowing collection of high-quality recorded bird calls. My mother owns the CD set, and although it’s amazing, it’s a bit clunky to use. The downloaded version, which also comes with downloadable guides, would be a lot simpler to use. The full version is $49.99 right now ($10 off it’s usual price.) You can also get a set for beginners for only $12.99 ($7 off usual price.)

What about you? What’s your favorite app for the outdoors? Leave me a comment here or send me an email.

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