For Hikers, Bikers & Trekkers, Accuterra a Must Have iPhone App

Walking-tour2_smallWhen you’re on vacation in Yosemite National Park, a GPS can only help you out when you’re driving to and from there. But what about when you’re trying to navigate Yosemite’s winding trails on foot? Denver-based Intermap Technologies is launching a GPS mapping iPhone 3.0 application, AccuTerra, later this week that’s aimed at making off-road treks through the great outdoors easier and fun.AccuTerra is ideal for biking and hiking enthusiasts because it includes high-definition 3-D mapping content that’s accessible even when you’re out of range of a mobile network — unlike competing mapping products made by Google (s goog)– since the application downloads and stores maps directly onto the iPhone. You can save a map of your hiking and biking treks on the application by recording the route you’re traveling on and points of interest along the way. It also lets you take photos and save them to the map with the elevation and location of where the photo was taken.

I saw AccuTerra win the Best iPhone 3.0 Beta app award at the Apple Design Awards last week, so I downloaded the San Francisco Bay Area version of the application to my iPhone 3G. I haven’t used the application on a hike yet, but the mapping content on the application is very rich, and you can see what the surface of the terrain looks like. The drawbacks are you can’t zoom in as far as the iPhone Google Earth application lets you, and it doesn’t use the iPhone’s auto-tilt function to move to another part of the map like Google Earth does.

AccuTerra lets you share your outdoor experiences with others via Facebook and email. You can post a link of your trek to your Facebook profile or email a link to family and friends that includes the route you traveled and pictures you took along the way.

The launch of AccuTerra marks Intermap’s first move to mobile; in the past, the company’s mapping technology was primarily aimed at governments, military and engineering companies. About two years ago, Intermap created a business unit dedicated to using its mapping technology for consumer electronics. The company decided on developing an application for the smartphone market, said Kevin Thomas, vice president of marketing at Intermap.

Intermap created AccuTerra to fill the void of the modern-day GPS: off-road mapping. Though GPS does a “wonderful job on the road,” acknowledged Thomas, it’s not as useful “once you get to the end of the pavement.” The application also has a library of maps of U.S. national state parks and forests for each state. It had an extensive list of popular hiking and biking trails in the Bay Area, including my favorites, Alum Rock Park and Rancho San Antonio County Park. I’ll have to take it along with me next time, but in the meantime, let me know what you think of it.