How Can I Track My Distance When Hiking? | Hikers University

You may wonder: how can I track my distance when hiking? Pedometers, GPS, and smartphone apps have made it easier to keep track of how far you've hiked.

Hiking is a great way to stay active while satisfying the desire to explore and connect with nature. People may want to know exactly how far they've hiked, even if they're content to know they've finished a walk or spent a few hours in nature.

While hiking, you may use pedometers, GPS devices, and smartphone devices to track your progress in terms of distance, steps, and even elevation. As an alternative, you can also use a step tracker or wrist fitness band, which counts your steps and calculates the distance you've walked.

There are many reasons you would wish to keep track of your mileage and pace. For example, you might be preparing for an event or race, completing a workout or training plan, or simply keeping track of your improvement over time. Investigate the benefits and drawbacks of various technologies for calculating walking distances before making a final decision.

We've put up a list of the best ways to keep track of your trekking distance after experimenting with several approaches.

Table of contents


Topographical Map

Use a topographical map to plot out your path. If the trail you're hiking doesn't appear on a map, or if you decide to go off the beaten route, you'll want a compass to help you locate orientation points.

You may use the map's distance key to get an accurate readout of your mileage by measuring the distance traveled using a ruler or a piece of string or thread. You may also use the map's scale to multiply.

Walking 4 inches on the map, which is the equivalent of walking 2.5 miles each inch, means you traveled 10 miles. Keep an eye on where you are on the map and utilize the string technique if your GPS doesn't have a tracking feature or your battery is low so that you can better trace your trip on the map.


In addition to counting steps and distance walked on the pedometer, Fitbit and other pedometer manufacturers offer additional information via their mobile applications for smartphones and tablets.

If your pedometer doesn't indicate how far you've walked, it's helpful to know that the typical individual walks 2,000 to 2,500 feet each mile.

As a general rule, the taller you are, the fewer steps you will have to walk. The stride length on your pedometer may not be precise, so if it shows you've gone further than you have, check the settings.

Using a Fitbit, you may access further support from their website. Use a pedometer to track your daily activity.

A pedometer is a little gadget that counts the number of steps you take, often placed on your hip. Use a known distance to calibrate your pedometer to estimate how far you walked on a hiking trip.

Calibrate your pedometer on terrain comparable to the one you will use it in since steps made on a smooth, flat surface will be longer than steps performed in rugged terrain or during an ascent.

Pedometer features are not uncommon on sports watches. Smartphone apps for pedometers are also available, although their accuracy falls short of dedicated pedometers.

GPS Device

It is also possible to follow your progress using a GPS device integrated into your wristwatch or a separate GPS tracking system on your hand.

Additionally, these gadgets will monitor the distance you traverse, estimate your speed, elevation and descent, and time spent walking and time spent resting.

Moreover, these devices will provide you with your location.

GPS-enabled smartwatches and fitness bands are becoming increasingly commonplace.

These allow you to leave your smartphone at home while still keeping track of your pace and distance when out for a jog or a walk. Many brands produce GPS watches that may also be used for running and biking.

In addition to displaying your speed and distance, these devices may be linked to heart rate monitor straps or integrated with LED pulse sensors.

Google Earth

Use Google Earth's "path" option instead of a topographic paper map to plan your hike's route. To use Google Earth, you'll need a computer with Internet connectivity, so it's best to utilize it after the fact rather than following your progress as you go.

Zoom in as close as the resolution permits, pick the ruler symbol, then the path tab, and click along your route. The distance will be calculated in the units of your choice by the program.

Smartphone App

Use a smartphone app similar to a recreational GPS monitoring device in its functionality. While this is a fantastic option for short day walks, a durable phone is still required to keep the battery charged.

A dedicated GPS gadget is ideal for more extended and particularly multi-day walks in the back-country, as you can merely switch batteries whenever the old ones run out.

It's easier to view a GPS screen in the sun than a smartphone screen, and it doesn't require bare hands to use.


You may measure how far you've walked by driving the route or by riding a bike with an odometer. Odometer calibration for tire size and other variables might affect the accuracy of the distance displayed.

If you're going to walk or run an event, you need an odometer to track how far you've gone. None of them are always suitable or readily available for everyday usage.


Walking Apps That Do Not Cost a Penny

Strava (For Android and iPhone Users)

From cycling to walking and windsurfing, you can use Strava to keep tabs on a slew of different sports. It can track distance, time, calories, elevation gain, and the route using GPS.

If you connect your heart rate monitor to the app, you'll see your heart rate. Share your walking routes with your friends, and view heatmaps to see which routes are most popular in your neighborhood.

You may also connect with friends via the app's social network to share facts and photographs of your daily activities.

Go Jauntly (For iPhone and Android Users)

Over 700 walking routes are available in the UK through the Go Jauntly app. They've partnered up with TfL to get the word out about the benefits of walking around the city.

All provided directions for neighborhood walks and station accessibility, and walking times and distances to the nearest Overground station, Tube station, and Santander Cycles docking station.

There are walks all around the United Kingdom, not only in London. Users may construct and share their routes and explore those already created by others.

Walkmeter GPS (For Android and iPhone Users)

Using Walkmeter's features is a lot of fun. If you want to see your walks in chronological order, you may do so either by date or route.

Even the weather is automatically recorded thanks to its integration with Google Maps. Race Compete mode allows you to compare your timings and speeds along a commonly trodden path, while walkers may transfer maps into your app immediately from an email or web browser.

With maps, training programs, heart rate zones, graphs, and interval splits all in one place, MapMyRun is the perfect companion for runners looking for a more tailored experience.

Advantages of Using:

Apps for Mobile Devices

These applications are ideal because you'll almost certainly have your phone with you on your stroll. To assist you in going back to where you started, the app shows you the path you've followed and how far you've traveled.

Smart pedometers and fitness bands like Fitbit may be linked to applications that utilize the phone's GPS to map and quantify your walk.

On several applications, you can see a map of your path and the overall distance traveled. You can also store and utilize this route in the future with some of them.

Watch with GPS

It's easy to put on them, and they give a lot of information and statistics. They may be easier to use than your mobile phone app when you need to check something on the go.

Internet Ma

This is mostly free or inexpensive, and they allow you to go along a route that is inaccessible by automobile. You may be able to store and reuse your routes, depending on the application you use.


Most people who drive or ride a bike can easily read an odometer. As a result, you may put your faith in their estimates to help you meet your distance targets.

Tracker for Your Fitness

They're easy to use, affordable, and don't take up additional time than a regular pedometer or fitness tracker. Generally speaking, most fitness trackers can accurately measure heart rate and calories burnt.

Disadvantages of Using:

Apps for Mobile Devices

Several factors influence GPS distance measurement accuracy. A phone's GPS readings can be inaccurate by up to 10%. This is because your phone has to be in constant contact with various GPS satellites.

If the sky is obscured from your phone's perspective, it won't be able to latch onto as many satellites as it otherwise would. It is possible to perceive a dramatic increase in the distance if your phone loses communication with one or more satellites.

You can notice this "GPS jitter" and the mistakes it generates when you plot your path on a map. Many towering buildings, deep valleys, and hills might cause GPS signal loss and inaccurate readings, so be careful when walking in these areas.

The GPS is also prone to be lost, and it doesn't perform well inside. It won't record your mileage because your position isn't shifting while you're on the treadmill.

Watch with GPS

It's pretty uncommon for GPS watches to malfunction, making it difficult to read your walking distance accurately.

Internet Map

Making an online map is time-consuming in some circumstances. Either you have to recall precisely where you walked or plan ahead of time.

If you want to receive the most accurate evaluation of your activity, you'll also want to stay on the designated path.


You may only use car odometers on roads that are accessible to drivers. If you want to ride on more pathways and trails, you'll need a bike and a bike odometer.

There are certain drawbacks to this method, such as the time it takes and the inaccuracy of the results.

Tracker for Your Fitness

Some fitness trackers, like pedometers, may not always offer correct step counts for slower-paced walkers.

On the other hand, Wearable trackers have become increasingly accurate thanks to advances in technology.

However, if your stride length is uneven, your findings may differ. Wrist, arm, hip, and waistband trackers are more precise than those worn in a pocket.


Peter Brooks

Peter Brooks

I’m a hiker, backpacker, and general outdoor enthusiast. I started hiking out of college while working for the National Forest Service, and have been hiking ever since. I’ve been solo hiking and leading hiking groups for two decades and have completed hundreds of small hikes and some majorones such as the Appalachian Train and the Pacific Crest Trail, and hiked on four continents. I’d love to share some of my insight with you.

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