A hiker follows a designated trekking route in Crested Butte, Colorado.
Sometimes the best way to track down a top-notch trail is through your smartphone. Here are the hiking apps you need to download before you plan your next trek.
Whether you’re new to hiking or are a seasoned trailblazer, finding the trek that best suits you can take some serious planning. These helpful (and affordable!) hiking apps make it easier to conquer mountains and explore the incredible outdoors. It’s simple: download, plan, then hit the trail.
AllTrails is one of the best resources for seeking out new trails and connecting with other hikers. You can search for nearby hiking routes based on your GPS location, and the app also provides timely tips, including crowd-sourced photos of scenic spots and detailed warnings about trail obstacles ahead. (How many paper maps warn you of downed trees that might inhibit your trek?) If you want to unlock more features—like the ability to download offline maps—you can sign up for a Pro membership, with pricing plans starting from $30.
MapMyRun is a supercharged hiking, running, and exercise app. The digital tool allows you to discover new trails, save popular treks, and track your workout through information about pace, distance, duration, and insights on calories burned. By syncing the app to a wearable device like a FitBit, you can connect with friends and participate in challenges to stay motivated. For more serious fitness features, like heart rate analysis and personal training plans, join the app’s MVP Membership plan for $6 a month or $30 a year.
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REI Co-op Guide to National Parks provides—you guessed it!—extensive maps of U.S. national parks, including Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Acadia, and more. On this app, you can search for hikes from a “Best Of” list curated by other adventurers. Detailed information also includes trail difficulty rankings and insights on nearby lodgings or camping. Once you’ve chosen your ideal route, you can create a to-do list and take the information with you offline; REI Co-op not only tracks your hikes, but also uses a built-in GPS to show your location, which can be sent out in the case of an emergency.
On ViewRanger, hikers of all levels can discover thousands of trails in 23 countries, including the United States, Canada, France, Italy, and New Zealand. The trekking app allows you to download offline terrain maps, check your GPS location, and access real-time statistics during your hike, such as time, speed, and distance traveled. You can also create and record personalized routes and share the trails with your outdoors-loving friends.
As its name suggests, PeakFinder allows curious hikers to identify the name of any mountain in view by simply using the app to snap a photo of the peak ahead. The topography-focused app contains the names of more than 350,000 mountains worldwide and uses compass and motion sensors to provide a panoramic rendering of the surrounding landscape for outdoor adventurers to document and share. PeakFinder, which works offline, also provides daily sunrise and sunset times—information every experienced hiker knows is worth the app’s price.
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Easily the best $4 you’ll spend for top-notch GPS tracking, this app helps you discover and map out multiple hiking trails in your favorite outdoor areas, then customize and store the routes for offline use. The major advantage of GPS Tracks—besides the walk-you-to-your-door navigation—is that you can color-code your overlapping routes to avoid confusion. The iOS-only app can also specify each trail’s latitude and longitude and monitor average hiking speed and distance traveled. Android users looking for a similar GPS tool can purchase Komoot, a route planning and trail navigation app with pricing plans starting from $4.
This article originally appeared online in April 2015; it was updated on June 21, 2018, to include current information.
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