Last summer, I started talking with some people who were trying to create a guide app for cities that, instead of relying on crowd-sourcing like Yelp, asked local experts in all different types of fields to pick their favorite things to do and write up mini-guides. I was instantly a fan of the concept – lately almost everything I look up on Yelp has an average three-star review and a fair share of unfairly awarded points. So with this, instead of getting a one-star review for a restaurant because the writer was in a bad mood, you get reviews written by people who know what they’re talking about.
The way it works is, you buy the Know What App first, which includes a combined 250 reviews for both Los Angeles and San Francisco. Then, if you like what a certain author is covering, you can pick up the rest of his or her guides with a small in-app purchase. These guides will be updated throughout the year, and additional packs will be offered as the writers keep doing what they do.
Modern Hiker currently offers 27 in-app hikes in Los Angeles, each with a simplified narrative write-up, photos, and built-in Google Maps directions to the trailhead. The app also includes links to the static pages on Modern Hiker if you need more information, too.
When you’re done using the hiking guides, it’s worth it to poke around to see what the other curators have written up – there are some great fellow contributors, including the The Los Angeles Conservancy, L.A. Bizarro, Boing Boing and MAKE Magazine’s Mark Frauenfelder. All in all, there are 26 launch contributors with almost 1300 featured places in the app, including 207 miles of hiking trails, secret city views, cocktail bars, street art masterpieces, 111 places without websites, Facebook pages or Yelp reviews, and 1 place where you can find a naked picture of Warren Beatty, if that’s your thing.
He has also been featured on Good Morning America, NPR, and the Associated Press, as well as in documentaries for Columbia Sportswear and the OTIS College of Art and Design.
Casey was one of eight people chosen by the National Parks Foundation to participate in the 2015 Find Your Park Expedition. His first book "Day Hiking Los Angeles," will be published by Mountaineers Books in 2016.
This post was written by Casey Schreiner on February 7, 2012