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Thursday, September 16, 2021
Home Fun Outdoors Apps to Help You Enjoy the Great Outdoors

Apps to Help You Enjoy the Great Outdoors

Now that spring has sprung and temperatures (and vaccine numbers!) are beginning to rise, it’s only natural to begin thinking about things to do and places to go in the great outdoors.

Fortunately, we live in a region with a bounty of public parks and waters where stir-crazy families and folks can hike, bike, or boat while exploring and enjoying Maryland’s diverse landscapes. While you won’t need any help finding the most popular haunts—think Sandy Point, or Quiet Waters Park—a number of apps can assist you in discovering and making the most of new places to go.

Here are a handful of apps to help you maximize your time outside this spring, plus a few to keep track of your activity while out there.

Outdoor Apps

AccessDNR 

This free app is “the official app for the State’s outdoor enthusiasts,” AccessDNR provides all the information you need to take advantage of any of the 140,761 acres within the Maryland State Park System. Some of its many features include:

  • Maps and directions to 53 Maryland State Parks, 25 Natural Resource Management Areas, 7 Natural Resources Management Areas, 3 Rail Trails, and 2 State Battlefields, along with activities and amenities at each location.
  • An interactive map pinpointing a combined 524 boat launches and water access sites. 
  • Breaking DNR news and alerts.

AllTrails

AllTrails is an incredibly user-friendly app that helps you find and choose which of the 100,000+ trails in its collection is right for you. 

You can search for trails by virtually any variable you can imagine, including zip code; difficulty, length, elevation, or route type (out and back, loop, point to point); activity type; attractions (waterfalls, historic sites); accessibility (dog-, kid, and wheelchair-friendly) and trail traffic; and user ratings that include commentary and photos. 

You can save your favorite trails for future reference; access driving directions, the on-site weather forecast, and insider tips (for example what to wear or what views to make sure you don’t miss) when you’re ready to go; and even record your trek’s length, speed, and time.

AllTrails is free; an upgraded version includes downloadable maps, real-time overlays, and an ad-free experience, for $2.50 per month. 

TraiLink

Very similar to AllTrails in terms of functions and features, TrailLink also has some unique aspects: the inclusion of many walk-friendly (aka sneaker-friendly) trails, for example the Baltimore and Annapolis Trail, recommendations of trails that are close to or directly accessible to one another, and even some “trail itineraries,” which suggest full weekends of trails, attractions, and activities in various areas. The app is free; its Unlimited account ($29.99/year) offers extra features, including downloadable maps, custom guidebooks, and custom routes.

Tracking Apps

If you want to do more than just track your steps and distance with your smartphone or smartwatch, there are a number of apps to do just that. All three of these apps are free, with upgraded services available. Three of the best include:

Strava
Strava is one of the top trackers for any and all forms of movement. It allows you to easily record and analyze your runs, walks, bikes, or swims by syncing with your phone or fitness tracker. However, its social networking features are what makes it unique. You can find challenges, join clubs, and follow your friends so that you can see their activity, share yours, and even share routes on Strava’s activity feed.

MapMyFitness
MapMyFitness, owned by Under Armour, exists in numerous forms including Map My Walk, Run, and Ride. Similar to Strava, these apps allow you track, analyze and share whatever form of movement you’re doing—from dog-walking to kayaking—and include some additional fitness-focused features such as calorie intake and burn. 

Paddle Logger
Paddle Logger allows you to easily track any and all watersports—from kayaking and rowing to SUPing and sailing. Just like those above, it tracks standard things like your route, distance and time, but is especially appealing for the water thanks to safety features such as float plan-sharing and inactivity alerts. As someone who often uses it when SUPing, it’s especially neat to be able to see how straight you were able to keep your route when paddling.

—Steve Adams

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