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10 smartphone apps for outdoor enthusiasts

When you’re stuck in traffic on your way to Tahoe for the weekend, it’s convenient—if illegal—to pull out your smartphone and check for the quickest alternative route to your destination. The same gadget can also pull up an app that recommends proper stretching tecniques before you hit the slopes, or can capture and organize photos of your kids playing in the snow. Here are some noteworthy apps to download before you head out.

AllTrails – Hiking & Biking

With images, maps, recommendations, reviews and detailed overviews of thousands of trails, this is an excellent app for those looking to try new trails. Also gives suggestions for cyclists and snowshoers. Available for Android and iPhone. Free.

Google Maps

This app is a must-have for anyone who owns a smartphone, and it’s great for traveling to new locations. Google’s GPS system is reliable and adapts to route changes within seconds. You can also add recommendations, photos, tips and more for friends and other users to see.

Available for Android and iPhone. Usually comes already installed in new phones. Free.

Hiking Diary

This app functions like a detailed photo album, and you can make a digital book with pictures, favorite trail memories, funny quotes or events, and more. Good for families.

Available for Android. $1.99.


The default cameras on iPhones and the various Android models work well enough, but photo apps like Instagram are an efficient way to take, share and organize photographs. The filters are fun, and with one tap of your finger, you can share an entire album on Facebook or Twitter. Instagram is not yet available for Android, but similar apps like Little Photo and Pixlr work just as well.

Instagram is available for the iPhone (and soon for Android). Free. Little Photo and Pixlr are available for Android. Free.


This app has been praised for its usefulness during natural disasters. Just in case you get caught in a blizzard or accident while in the mountains, this app uses a GPS signal to help emergency rescuers and family members locate you. Also install it on your kids’ and friends’ phones in the event that your party is separated while trekking in the wilderness.

Available for Android and iPhone. Free.

My Cars

This app gives you updated information about your vehicle, including how far you can get on your tank of gas and when it needs maintanance. You can enter multiple cars and a custom profile for each. Available for Android. Free.

Ski & Snow Report

The clean and intuitive interface makes this one of the best apps of its kind on the market. Users can share tips or recommendations, and the livecam shows updated images and streaming video of each resort. This app is useful not just for skiers, but anyone looking to venture to the mountains for the weekend. Available for Android and iPhone. Free.

Ski TrailMaps

Not as comprehensive as the Ski & Snow Report, but this app offers a huge database of ski trails around the world. Especially useful is the information about the beginner, intermediate, advanced and expert trails available at each resort. Live cams are also available, as well as aerial topographic maps and maps of mountains with color coded trail suggestions.

Available for Android. Free, extended version $1.99. Try iTrailMap for iPhone. Free.


This app helps you track your fitness activities, including cycling, hiking, and skiing, and will compile your stats and let you know how many calories you’ve burned. A pro version is available for avid users but the free version works just fine.

Available for Android and iPhone. Free.

The Weather Channel

The Weather Channel’s app works efficiently and has a simple layout. Perfect for checking the weather of your destination while you’re on the road. This one also features video, as well as emergency advisory notices.

Available for Android and iPhone. Free.