Find the ideal hiking trail, check the weather, enjoy birdsong, gaze at the stars and connect with flora as we enjoy the natural world in summer…
There’s nothing quite like heading off the beaten path and going on a hike when you want to feel closer to nature, but discovering lesser-known trails can be tricky. This handy app has been designed to take the guesswork out of finding local hiking paths, with more than 200,000 detailed, hand-curated trail maps. There are lots of clever features for narrowing your search, from sorting by length or difficulty to identifying dog and kid-friendly routes. There’s even a function that gives an estimate of how busy a trail is – invaluable when we’re looking for that moment of peace and solitude.
All dedicated nature lovers need a great weather app at their fingertips, and Weather Underground (or ‘Wunderground’) is one of the best around. It operates slightly differently to other weather apps on the market, drawing from more than 250,000 personal weather stations across the globe. The result is the most hyper-local weather data, wherever we happen to be in the world. From weather predictions and information on air quality to celestial information on moon phases and sunrise and sunset times, it’s invaluable for preparing us for what the great outdoors has in store.
It’s been proven that listening to natural sounds, such as birdsong, is beneficial for our mental wellbeing, helping to alleviate fatigue and stress. This app from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology takes that one step further by helping us to identify the birds behind those sweet-sounding chirps and trills. It’s a great tool for bird-watchers, whether we’re novices or fully-fledged twitchers. Insightful features include a bird ID wizard that can identify feathered friends from across the globe and an eBird function that allows us to build custom lists of the birds we’re most likely to spot wherever we are.
Stargazing can make us feel closer to the cosmos, while reminding us of our relative insignificance in comparison to the infinite expanse of the universe. Next time you step out to marvel at the night sky, brush up on your astronomy knowledge with this app, which allows us to locate planets, constellations and satellites at the touch of a button. With features including Galaxy View, where we can visualise the 3D location of stars and deep sky objects in the Milky Way, and OneSky, which allows us to chart what other users are observing in real time, it’s like having a mini planetarium in our pocket.
Are you one of those people who can’t walk past a plant or a flower without finding out what it’s called? If so, this is the app for you. A joint initiative by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society, it’s a must-have for botany enthusiasts. Simply take a photograph of the plant you want to identify and upload it to the app. Within a few seconds, you should have the answer. The app will also connect you with fellow nature lovers around the world who can help you identify anything from insects and flowers to rare species of mushroom.