New App Will School You On L.A.'s History While You Hike Around The City

The geniuses at UCLA have teamed up with the Los Angeles State Historic Park to develop a wonderful new app that strikes a perfect partnership between exercise and history.

The LASHP Trails app touts itself as an urban history/hiking network that encourages users to go outside for some exercise while learning a little bit about the city's history. When it officially debuts in April, it will be the largest of its kind in the country.

It goes a bit like this: you open the app, choose one of three routes (Chavez Ravine/Solano Canyon, Chinatown/Union Station/El Pueblo, L.A. River), and begin your journey. As you walk, your phone will "ding" when you reach a certain point, opening up pages on your phone about the history of that particular spot, Gizmodo says. Then, it will encourage you to do various exercises while at that spot, like running up and down the steps at the Chinatown Gold Line station or doing lunges at El Pueblo. In fact, one of the main purposes of the app is to turn everyday things, such as staircases and benches, into makeshift exercise areas.

While there will be three trails that will debut with the app come April, there are plans for many more that will snake in and around the city.

It's not like Google Maps, which gives you point-by-point directions; rather, it has a compass that points you in the path's direction to various locations. LASHP Trails is different in that you can't browse different historical facts while moving your finger around a map—you actually have to physically be there to "unlock" the information.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and a number of lucky people got to try it out for the first time on Monday. While using the app, Gizmodo's Alissa Walker says:

As we walked, the app directed me to various hotspots which I easily navigated toward using directional arrows and mileage counters. Once I stepped into the hotspot, I was able to see images and information about historical or cultural landmarks—like photos of the city's first Chinatown, which was moved from its location to make way for construction of Union Station.

Elsewhere, the app might show me photos of what [Chavez Ravine] looked like before Dodger Stadium was built there, point me towards the L.A. River path, help me find a diner beloved by locals, or encourage me to run around a track at a high school's stadium, which as I'll find out when I go there, is built on a former graveyard (and that's why the school's mascot is the Phantoms).

Needless to say, April can't come soon enough.