Take Two

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by Alex Cohen & A Martínez

App Chat: 4 apps to find trails, go camping, spot stars and more

by Jacob Margolis | Take Two

An example of the information available in the app Star Walk.

Do you really need apps to enjoy in the outdoors on Memorial Day weekend? No, but they can still be helpful. That's why I've put together a list of four apps that will help you identify trails, campgrounds, plants and animals, and stars in the sky.

1) RACamping: Discover campsites

Part of the Reserve America brand, the RACamping app lets users search for and book camp sites around the country. You can dig into the app and filter out sites that are specific to things like tent or RV camping, and whether there are things like electrical hook ups. 

2) AllTrails: Discover trails

Pretty self explanatory, this app is all about discovering trails. It uses a nifty map that lets users search their area for spots. But if someone wants to go into more detail and filter trails for certain needs, it can identify trails that are for things like hiking, fishing, mountain biking, etc.

When a user selects a trail in the app, the description includes the length of the trail, the difficulty, pictures and descriptions of views. Users can also rate individual trails. I was surprised by the amount of trails available in my area (West Hollywood, CA), even though I'd grown up in Los Angeles.

3) Audubon Apps from Green Mountain Digital: For identifying plants and animals

If you're outside and you need help identifying everything from mushrooms, to birds, to insects to mammals, there's a series of Audubon apps that'll help you do as much. Using the mushroom app as an example, first you can browse by mushroom shape and name. And once you find what you're looking for, the app tells you if the mushroom is edible, the habitat that it grows in and more.

4) Star Walk: For spotting constellations, stars, satellites and more in the sky

Point the app at the sky and it'll orient itself to tell you what you're looking at. It identifies things like constellations, comets, galaxies, stars and planets. It will also let you search constellations and planets by name, and it'll point you to where you should be looking. And if you're in a place like LA and you can't see any stars, that's ok because  the app orients itself using data already downloaded onto the phone. It'll also let you know if something that you're seeing in the sky is a man made satellite. And if you want more information about it, you just touch it and description comes up that covers when the satellite was launched, why, how much it weighs and more.

Bonus: Spyglass: A beautiful compass to help guide you

In addition to being a compass, it also has a built in speedometer, altimeter, rangefinder, gyrocompass, hi tech viewfinder and sextant.

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