Blaze a new trail with 8 hiking and outdoor apps for Windows Phone and Windows

TouchMountain app for Windows Phone helps you identify nearby peaks.

Finally. The season is beckoning us outdoors, into the sunshine, and we’re ready to go. Now it’s only light-jacket time, no heavy-duty parkas needed. But how to cut down on some other gear you might want to take? Of course you’ll have your Windows Phone device with you. And that means you can add some very useful apps to your mobile to help guide you as you go, and give you many of the tools you’ll want while you’re out and about.

You’ll find many apps in The Great Outdoors Collection in the Windows Phone Store. But here are eight to start with for Windows Phone and for Windows. These apps can help you safely blaze your own trails as you enjoy the weeks and months ahead:

TouchMountain

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Let TouchMountain ($2.99; there is a free trial period) be your guide to nearby mountains when you’re out climbing or hiking.

The app gives you the names of nearby peaks, elevation, distance to the peak, what live webcams are nearby, the weather and Wikipedia articles about the surroundings.

You can see GPS information, such as the distance to the peak from where you are, the peak’s elevation and GPS coordinates.

It takes between 5 and 15 seconds for TouchMountain to start up once it’s opened because it uses the phone’s camera. TouchMountain first looks to determine your location, find all the peaks around your position and calculate their position on your phone’s screen. This app also includes dozens of little features like a compass, navigation, sharing, screenshots and more. Just remember – you still need to bring a good ol’ magnetic compass, just in case you can’t get a cell signal.

WTA TrailBlazer

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If you’re looking for great places to hike around the state of Washington, the Washington Trails Association’s WTA TrailBlazer app helps you search for trails by name, location, difficulty and even tells you which trails are “kid-friendly” and whether dogs are allowed.

You can also check conditions on the trail you’re interested in by first seeing the latest trip reports from fellow hikers, and you can view photos those hikers uploaded from the trail.

When you search for a trail, you can view the results on a map, see the elevation that’s involved and the round-trip length of the hike.

After you choose a trail, you can use the Find Nearby Hikes feature to see other trails that are close by. It’s also nifty to be able to bookmark your favorite hikes, and quickly get driving directions to trailheads.

Bing Weather

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The Bing Weather app designed for Windows Phone gives you hourly, daily and 10-day forecasts, and historical information for comparison’s sake. If you’re a weather hound, you will appreciate the level of detail that this weather app offers.

The app uses the same beautiful images and maps that you find when you use the Bing search engine.

You’re able to go deep into detail with radar, temperature, precipitation, cloud and satellite maps that help you decide whether you should keep trekking onward, or consider heading back. You also get severe weather alerts when things turn nasty.

Mobile First Aid

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Maybe you took a class in CPR way back when, but you haven’t had a chance to practice it. Mobile First Aid can offer some guidance about what to do in a medical emergency.

The app includes a first aid manual, and takes you through a Q-and-A evaluation process for some emergency scenarios. You’re asked questions like: “Is the scene secure? Are there dangers?” “Do you suspect a trauma?” “Are there others injured?” – and then counseled on how to proceed.

Mobile First Aid is free – but it could prove priceless if you need it out on the trail.

Jack of Tools

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Jack of Tools’ developers say this app turns your phone into a “virtual tool belt,” and with good reason. Whether you’re trying to get a piece of furniture level or figure out how high up you are on a hill or mountain, Jack of Tools will get you that info.

The free app includes a compass, virtual level, coordinates, altitude, speed and heading (including average and maximum speed markers), base distance and a sound meter.

If you opt for Jack of Tools Pro ($1.99), you’ll also get an LED flashlight, caliper and magnifier. Additional features with the Pro version include the ability to post your current location; current speed (average and maximum); store, find and share up to 50 locations; as well as reverse geocoding of current location and bases.

A Route Tracker

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Record and track your own route when you’re jogging, walking, biking or skiing using A Route Tracker. Using the phone’s GPS, you record your tracks and see them on the map in real time.

There’s also a “buddies” system, which lets you see your friends on the map. You can create a network of friends to meet up with, or track their positions when you are out on a run or bike ride.

You can save your tracks on your phone so that you can replay them later. See step-by-step how far, how fast and at what altitude you were at.

The app’s ‘split screen’ replay lets you view both a street and satellite view of your route.

There’s also A Route Tracker Pro Version for $1.99. With the pro version, you can upload and download your routes to permanent storage, or move routes between phones. The pro version also lets you keep track of the miles you have covered by year, month and day.

Bing Travel for Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8.1

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Trying to figure out whether it will be Yosemite or Lake Tahoe this summer? No matter where you’re looking to hike or enjoy being outdoors, the Bing Travel app is an incredible resource, both for planning before you go, and for while you’re there. (You can also download the app for Windows 8.1 to use on your tablet or computer.

Choosing Yosemite, which is where we’re headed this year, I found comprehensive information from Frommer’s, including the best hikes and camping spots, sites for the best views and even “The Best Places to Get Away from It All” (recommended: Yosemite’s Glacier Point at night, as well as Tenaya Lake).

There’s tons of photos, arranged by topic, which in Yosemite’s case range from Half Dome to Mono Lake, including photos taken by other travelers, and drill-downs on the park’s magnificent sites, nearby restaurants and lodging.

Want to book a flight? The Travel app lets you do that too, as well as check for arrivals and departures and the status of flights.

MARCO POLO Travel Magazine

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MARCO POLO Travel Magazine for Windows 8 tablets is another extremely useful and fun resource for planning and learning about hiking, climbing and biking trips around the globe.

With lots of photos and videos, you’ll get an inside look at places like Sardinia, Stockholm, Japan, Tanzania, Morocco, Amsterdam, Tibet, Sri Lanka, Vienna, Ireland, Berlin, India, Istanbul, Australia and Tenerife.

For skiing, check out the magazine’s look at adventures in the Alps, Dubai, South Africa, New Zealand, Norway, Hamburg, Mallorca, Iceland and many other destinations.

But more on that when it’s time for ski season again. For now: Get out into the sunshine! And enjoy!

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Suzanne Choney
Microsoft News Center Staff