Published on March 20th, 2012 |
ViewRanger Outdoor GPS Review
Gas prices and apprehensive curiosity brought me to the trails of Deukmejian Wilderness Park in northern Glendale recently. I wanted to test out a new GPS phone application, but didn’t want to drive across town to do it ($4.29 a gallon!?). The curiosity stems from the fact that the Station Fire ripped through this park in 2009, turning it into an apocalyptic wasteland, and it was closed for more than a year. I had heard parts of it had reopened, but was reluctant to check it out and destroy my peaceful memories of the place. News flash: it’s as beautiful as ever.
Now for the phone app: ViewRanger recently partnered with my publisher, Menasha Ridge Press, so all the hikes from my book, 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Los Angeles, are available for upload (for a reasonable $1 each). I chose Deukmejian, though I scrolled around the map a bit since nearby hikes from the book were also visible on the screen. It had been a couple of years since I hiked this trail, so I was happy to see the track was mapped out on the phone, complete with arrows, just as it is in the book. (The only thing noticeably missing on the phone app are trail markers like signs and viewpoints.)
The text and photos that accompany the map are also available. It was as good as tearing the book’s pages about this hike and stuffing them in my backpack.
A tip: Be sure that your phone is fully charged at the start of your hike. The app does sap the phone’s power quickly and you must turn the GPS off at the end to return to normal power levels.
I’m not an avid phone app collector, but I found ViewRanger helpful and easy to use. It did everything my GPS does (track mileage, show elevation, etc.), which means that’s one less gadget I have to bring on hikes. I also think it might be a useful tool for group hikes. I lead hikes for my son’s school occasionally, and it would be great to be able to create a network on ViewRanger so parents can actually look up the hike and get a better sense for its location and level before it happens.