There’s an App for That: Pocket Ranger
While I prefer to go hiking with a paper map in hand there are many people out there that are relying more and more on their smart phones. They don’t want to be worrying about carrying maps around with them. Preserves, parks, and forests are starting to put QR codes at trail heads that link to a park map for those that didn’t come prepared. Recently, I came across a pretty cool app by Pocket Ranger. Pocket Ranger is working with state parks all around the country, including Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Maine, to set up detailed information about each of the parks.
The app comes with GPS maps. With this you can track your hike, run, or mountain bike as you go along the trails. If you are looking to have a park map stored on your phone for directions you can download a cached map that you can pull up even if you have lost your cell service. During your adventures you can stop, take pictures, and save them as way points on your GPS map. The photos can be used to share with others or for yourself as a reference of a location you would like to go back to. There is even a Friend Finder feature which can help you locate a friend or family member who is exploring the same park.
Pocket Ranger isn’t just for use while you are in a park, it is also a handy tool for before you get there. At the moment I have the Connecticut State Parks app on my phone. I use it to check updates coming from the parks such as if the beaches are filled to capacity. There is contact information for the parks, general policy, and the type of activities the park has to offer. You can even do a search based on the activity that you would like to do. A feature I know I will be using more of in the coming months is the Calendar of Events link. With the Connecticut State Parks putting the Centennial into full swing there will be many exciting events throughout the sate. The Pocket Ranger app allows you to create a schedule to include park events.
One thing that should be noted, as with almost all GPS apps, Pocket Ranger GPS will use up your battery life quickly. If there is a concern that your battery might die bring a printed out map as backup.