Is there an app for hiking trails is a common question people ask, especially if they want to disconnect from the digital world and enjoy life.
Hiking is a wonderful way to release stress and exercise. Spending time outdoors is the best thing you can do for your body and mind. However, you should not ignore the hiking tools available to enhance your journey, such as tracking apps and trail maps that you can use on your smartphones. They will ensure that your hike is as smooth as possible, and you do not need to carry a backpack full of random tools.
There are lots of applications for hiking trails you can use, including AllTrails, Gaia GPS, Spyglass, Google Maps, and Outdoor Active. These apps provide navigation features to help you find your way on the trickiest of hikes and help you share your location with your loved ones.
You should be aware of other types of hiking apps as well in case you are looking for a specific feature. It doesn’t matter if you are new to the hiking world and have been hiking for years; there is no better time than now to boost your hiking skills.
As hiking experts, we’re here at your disposal to make hiking easier for you. For this purpose, we have lined up some of the best hiking apps that you can download for your next adventure. Trust us, you will not regret your decision.
Is There an App for Hiking Trails?
Best Free Hiking App: AllTrails
AllTrails is the best hiking application that can be downloaded on Android, as well as iOS software. It is a great option for experts, as well as beginners. All you have to do is tap on your phone a couple of times to find the best running, hiking, or biking trails based on the difficulty level and trail length.
With this app, you can follow the activities of your friends, make custom trail maps, and even read reviews on specific trails by the hiking community. We love this app because it has loads of databases curated by users directly and contains lots of information about different types of trails, as well as less popular trails that are not widely known to the general public.
Even though this app is free, the paid version includes some special features, like 3D navigation, real-time overlays, and off-route navigation. However, if you are a casual hiker, you will be more than happy with the free version of this application.
We personally love this app because it helps facilitate all hiking-related experiences very well. You do not have to worry about fake reviews since real people share pictures of hiking locations and you can completely depend on the routes as well- whatever information you find on the application is reliable and honest.
Gaia GPS, also commonly known as Gaia, is another popular app for hiking trails that is used by a large chunk of the hiking community. Gaia allows you to find new trails, study as well as save hiking statistics, and save your routes so that you can go back to them whenever you want.
The GPS feature is one of Gaia’s strongest points- it allows you to keep a record of your trials and provides you with various maps that you can pick and choose from.
By using the paid version of this application, you can take advantage of the map catalog, as well as offline maps provided by Gaia. The annual version also includes maps for other activities, such as backpacking, mountain biking, and skiing- all of which are great options for trekkers and hikers who want to try something new.
Many people believe that a smartphone cannot replace a GPS device but when using Gaia GPS, you will see how the app provides the most accurate navigation.
The free version also has lots of versatility- you can plan new trail routes, look at the weather forecast, read real-life reviews, and much more. With Gaia, there’s a lot more you can do apart from just hiking.
If you are looking for an app for outdoor navigation to help you with your hiking experience, Spyglass will not disappoint. Even though it is not a free app, you only have to pay a one-time fee of $5.99 after which you can use it on android, as well as iOS.
What makes spyglass different are its modern features- it provides its users with augmented-reality navigation and it works in 3D, showing hikers' object locations in real-time. Moreover, you can see directions over maps and images- something that is not provided by other apps for hiking trails. If you are into AR navigation, this is definitely a great application to use.
Spyglass also has the ability to convert your phone into a pair of binoculars, star finder, speedometer, altimeter, GPS receiver, coordinate converter, and many more, depending on the kind of activity you are choosing it for.
There are so many features that Spyglass provides that individuals view it as an all-in-one tool for hiking. You can also make use of the object-location features while hiking so that you can recognize wildlife as well as any plants that you come across on your hiking journey.
One of the best applications for community-sourced information, Hiking Project can be of great use if you need some help choosing the perfect trail for your next hiking trip.
Other hikers upload all kinds of useful information, such as images, reviews, and route descriptions that are studied by an in-house team before being posted on the app to avoid any errors or incorrect information. Hiking Project is a guidebook that constantly upgrades its information and posts reviews every single day by real-life individuals.
The best part is that this application can work offline as well. This allows hikers to make use of the app and explore their surroundings even when they are on the trail with no access to Wi-Fi or mobile signals.
We love that Hiking Project is an app controlled by real hikers who post about the trails that they have tried and tested. This means that the application contains tips and hacks that you will not find anywhere else. Moreover, it is the perfect place to learn how much water to bring on a hike, what kind of shoes to wear, whether there is a source of freshwater available close to the trail you choose, or where to park your car on a specific hike.
Since the app is free, you can start using it as soon as you want. It does not have any annoying advertisements that you need to worry about so we promise a wonderful user experience.
Cairn is another great app for hiking trails that can help keep you safe during your hiking adventures. This app can be used to track real-time progress, as well as share it, along with your location, with friends and family members so that you always feel safe and do not worry anyone if you have been on the trail for too long.
Cairn is a great way to plan your routes as the application gives estimates on the duration of each route based on personalized information. However, this only happens when you have had a sufficient amount of time to input your data into the app. It takes into account your fitness levels and how long you usually take to finish hiking a specific trail.
If your hike takes longer than expected, Cairn sends an alert to your emergency contacts so that they are aware of where you are and do not think that you have lost your way.
By using the premium version, you can use Cairn’s features offline and send an automatic update to your friends and family members.
We love that Cairn takes into account the safety of hikers. Over the years, there have been numerous incidents where hikers went missing or did not find their way back home. Cairn is a great platform to ensure that even if you are hiking on an unknown path, your loved ones always know where you are and can bring you back to safety in case the situation ever gets worse.
Another application that every individual is familiar with is Google Maps. This is a free platform that hikers can use even if they want to hike into national forests and parks. However, with this hiking application, you must ensure that you download the offline map if you know that you will not have any service on the trail.
Google Maps has some popular features such as it allows you to save map points, plan your routes in advance, view trail pictures, add your own trail pictures, download offline maps, and get 3D tours on hikes so that you can become familiar with the trail before you hike it. This is a special feature that is only offered by Google Maps as no other application has the bandwidth or capability to do so.
A huge percentage of hikers rely on the platform for updated trail pictures as well as other relevant data that the app never fails to upload.
Outdoor Active is an app that provides a number of features, such as navigation and trail information. This app has a number of special features- it can be integrated with Apple health, as well as Apple watch, making it a great help for fitness freaks who like to hike with their smartwatches.
Moreover, there are a number of navigation features that allow you to plan your hike in advance and understand the best routes to take. The travel guides provided by Outdoor Active give all the information on trails that you might need so that hikers can make smart decisions and bring equipment according to how rugged or smooth the terrain is.
Outdoor Active has a global database which means that hikers from all over the world can post reviews about their experiences, making it accessible to other hikers and helping them learn from each other’s experiences.
Seek by iNaturalist
If you like exploring different kinds of plants while hiking, Seek by iNaturalist is a wonderful app that you must use. It is especially great for hikers who are on the trail and often find themselves wondering what kind of tree or plant lies in front of them. Moreover, it is also a great way to ensure that you keep yourself and your loved ones away from any poisonous plants and do not consume toxic berries.
This app has been developed by the California Academy of Sciences and National Geographic to bring the best of the best to users. It uses the location and camera of hikers to understand the kind of plants and animals they come across during their hikes.
All you have to do is take a picture of whatever species is in front of you and allow the app to do the rest for you. This app also contains weather updates, allowing hikers to plan their hikes beforehand. They can also communicate with other hikers and make plans to hike together using this application.
Even if you hike alone, Seek by iNaturalist has a number of challenges and badges kept in store for you- identify plants and animals and win these along the way to increase your points on the app!
About THE AUTHOR
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.Read More About Peter Brooks