June 30th, 2017|Tags: , |1 Comment


By Allie Wisniewski, American Forests

Let’s face it: We’re smack dab in the middle of the digital age, and there’s no turning back now. While some might argue that technology has made people more reluctant to disconnect from their phones and reconnect to nature, there remains those special tech-savvy outdoor enthusiasts who facilitate the perfect marriage of cyberspace and actual space. Introducing: 7 free iPhone apps — did we mention they’re free? — that will add a unique new dimension to your outdoor experiences and enhance your adventures in nature.

1. Leafsnap

Picture this: You’re out hiking and come across an unfamiliar plant or tree, wishing there was a way you could find out its name. Assuming Leafsnap is installed on your phone — problem solved! Developed by researchers from Columbia University, this app uses visual recognition software to identify plants based on photographs of their leaves. All you have to do is upload a photo of the mystery species, and Leafsnap does the rest! Can Siri do that?

2. TrailLink

Love hiking? Biking? A combination of the two? With a database of more than 30,000 miles of trails, this app is made specifically for outdoor enthusiasts eager to discover new adventures. TrailLink provides detailed trail descriptions, reviews, photos and maps of the best trails near you. When you’re immersed in the wilderness, in-app purchases allow you to download trail maps to your phone for offline navigation.

3. iNaturalist

If you’re an avid nature explorer and love to connect with other naturalists, iNaturalist just might be your new best friend. This app allows you to record your findings (what you find and where you find it) while out in nature and share them online, essentially creating a living and constantly evolving record of the species that have been spotted near you. Engage with other contributors and exchange knowledge with the naturalist community!

4. Nature Melody

Especially for city dwellers, getting to sleep at night can be difficult with the excess noise of an outside world that never seems to rest. Bring the outdoors in with Nature Melody, which offers 32 high-quality nature sounds that will help you to relax and get the most out of your slumber. This app even boasts an alarm clock feature, allowing you to wake up to the soothing crackle of a campfire or the steady rushing of a rainforest waterfall.

5. WildLab Bird

This app is the ultimate handbook for avid birders everywhere. Including photos, audio recordings, and range maps for over 200 species of birds in a variety of habitats, WildLab Bird is an essential tool when it comes to identifying an unknown species. Once you’ve cracked the case, save your sighting with the location, habitat and additional notes for future reference.

6. Yonder

Ready to plan your next adventure? I know I always am. Let Yonder help you out — this unique app allows users to browse a world map of geo-located photos and videos taken by other outdoor enthusiasts, featuring 25 activities from hiking and biking to skiing and rock climbing. A social media platform of sorts, you can follow other users, like and comment on their adventures, and, of course, post your own. Search more than 20,000 destinations and save your favorites for future excursion planning!

7. What’s Invasive

You’re probably aware that invasive species are living up to their name at an increasingly high rate. As a major threat to native plant and animal species, it’s important for environmental activists like us to take action and do our part to maintain ecological harmony and balance. Thankfully, What’s Invasive can help. This app displays lists of the top invasive species in your area, including photos and short descriptions. If you happen to come across one of the culprits, simply select the name of the species you spotted, and your GPS location will be sent to experts who can help.