Editors' Choice Snow 2017: Mountain Hub

Trail beta gets a community-oriented app.

Good beta is essential to planning great and safe trips, but current conditions can be hard to come by. That’s why we love Mountain Hub, a free app that lets users view and report trail conditions in real time. Aided by downloadable map layers—including USGS topos, heat maps, and aspect data—and your phone’s internal GPS, Mountain Hub lets users mark trail observations on maps and write trip reports that others can use to plan their trips. Photos of downed trees, warnings about sketchy snow conditions, or directions to an off-trail overlook—all organized chronologically with the freshest stuff first—are just some of the entries that we came across while using the app.

To be sure, Mountain Hub is still a work in progress: As a community-oriented app, its user base hasn’t hit critical mass yet, and there are still many outdoor areas that lack reports of any kind. (Its developers say that its membership is growing at 15 percent per month.) But it’s steadily adding to its user base, and a must-try for outdoor enthusiasts who want to join a community of like-minded souls eager to help each other get the most out of their outings.