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13 Best Hiking Apps for Finding and Hiking the Perfect Trail

I’ve hiked various terrains from deserts to mountains, and along the way, I’ve come to appreciate the significance of finding the right trail. Using hiking apps is a great way to find nearby trails that fit your skill level and desired hiking distance. Today, I’m sharing some of my favorite apps I’ve used for finding trails, plus some bonus apps that make my time on the trail easier and safer.

Let’s dive in!

Best Hiking Apps Compared

AllTrails Pros and Cons

AllTrails is arguably the most popular hiking app with over 50 million users in more than 150 countries. It has a free and pro version that’s typically $2.99 a month. The free version has over 400,000 hiking trails you can search for by location, whether it’s in an upcoming destination or for local trails. The app and previous user reviews give a clear picture of what you can expect from a trail. You can get information like trail length, elevation gain, difficulty, accessibility, terrain, and if the trail is dog-friendly.

While AllTrails is one of the best hiking apps, it has some downsides.

  • The free version requires cell service to track the GPS location along the trail. If you are in a remote area and don’t have phone service, you can’t use it. The paid version offers offline downloading.
  • I have found that the difficulty levels aren’t always accurate. I’ve been on some “beginner friendly” trails that were at minimum an intermediate hiking level. Always read reviews before you hit the trail.

Best Hiking Apps for Trails

While there are some downsides to AllTrails, it is one of the best hiking apps available. However, if you’re looking for other options, these apps are excellent alternatives.

Finding trails with best hiking apps
Hiking apps can help you find the perfect trail close to you.

Gaia GPS

Similarly to AllTrails, Gaia GPS has a wide range of maps and routes you can search for to find the best trail for you. I prefer this app over AllTrails because of the map and offline features. Even in airplane mode, the app connects to GPS satellites for tracking.

It also allows you to download the maps for offline use. The maps have topographic details and provide detailed information on the trails, hiking distances, and other location or park info depending on where you are hiking.

Avenza Maps

If you’re planning on hiking in the backcountry and know you will not have good service, Avenza Maps is one of the best offline apps.

This app allows you to browse your location for different categories like hiking, camping, and backroading. Avenza Maps searches for the best hiking trails nearby and has downloadable maps.

The maps track your progress and alert you to essential information about the trail along your way. It also has built-in navigational tools like a compass, coordinate information, altitude information, and more so you can stay safe while exploring.

National Park Service App

If you’re hiking in a national park, this app is a one-stop shop for all the info you need during your time on the trail. It provides detailed information about the trails throughout the park.

You’ll also have self-guided tours so you can learn more about the trails. The audio guides are user-friendly and give detailed information about exhibits along the trail.

In addition to helping you find campsites, it stores entry passes for the park so you can digitally access necessary information. Plus, it alerts you to crucial occurrences in the park like bad weather advisories or closing notices. 

Hiking Project

The Hiking Project has 265,507 miles of trails waiting for you to discover. The app is free and has offline capabilities so you can use it no matter what trail you are on.

The interface allows you to pin check-in spots along the trail for special sites, like waterfalls or caves you may want to explore. It also has a to-do list section so you can plan everything you need for a successful trail experience. You can create a gear list or include information on how to get there.

Additionally, it has trail guides to give you facts about sites you will see along the trail.

caitlin morton hiking in british columbia
You can use hiking apps before, during, and after you hit the trail.

Komoot

Komoot comes with detailed hiking and biking trails. While it has ready-built routes for the ultimate hiking experience, it also offers independent trail planning. You can pin key trails and points to map out the most efficient hiking route. From the pinned trail, the app calculates distance, approximate hiking time, and elevation gained.

Additionally, you can filter trails by difficulty level.

Google Maps 

Most people have used Google Maps regardless of their hiking experience. While this only provides basic information about the trails, it still has a search feature that can look up “trails near me” to find hiking trails in your area.

Previous hikers can leave reviews and share photos from the trail. These reviews can provide information on terrain and difficulty level.

However, unlike the previous best hiking apps, Google Maps doesn’t have many filtering options to help find the perfect trail for you. Nevertheless, it provides a good starting point to discover more about a region.

Pro Tip: Make sure you have these 10 Hiking Essentials You Should Never Hit the Trail Without.

Best Hiking Apps for Staying Safe While Hiking

Your safety should always be your priority while on the trail. These apps are useful in case of emergency and can provide some extra peace of mind.

iNaturalist

Are you worried that you might have crossed paths with poison ivy but aren’t certain how to identify it? iNaturalist can help you identify plants.

You can upload a photo of the plant and community members will help determine what it is. You can also search for photos of the species to match it to what you see on the trail.

When you cross paths with a snake or insect you don’t know and are worried that it may be poisonous, the app can also identify them.

Cairn

Whether you are hiking alone or with a trail friend, you should always let someone who is not on the trail know where you are hiking and how long you will likely be on the trail. Cairn is the ultimate route progress and tracking app.

The app has live tracking that monitors your progress on the trail and calculates your approximate return time by your speed and the distance of the trail. Your loved ones can follow your progress and receive alerts if you do not return on time, should they need to contact emergency services. 

Hiking on trail
From finding trails to identifying plants, there is an app for every aspect of hiking.

Red Cross First Aid

Depending on the length of the trail, it can take a while for emergency services to reach you. The Red Cross First Aid app can give guidance and support during a medical emergency.

For example, you might twist your ankle and be unable to walk. You can filter results to find how you can best help yourself until you return to the trailhead or emergency services can get to you.

You can also contact emergency services through the app to call for help. 

Weather Live

While smartphones typically have a weather app, the Weather Live app is known for being the best for live tracking storms and inclement weather.

Weather is fickle and can change quickly. Even if you planned your hike and checked the weather, you never know when a storm may blow in. Having this accurate app can help you know when you may need to return to the trailhead. 

Pro Tip: Before you hit the trails, make sure you know The Dos and Don’ts of Breaking In Hiking Boots.

Notable Mentions to Use While Hiking

While the following apps aren’t necessary during your hike, I’ve found them an enjoyable addition to my hiking experience.

Hiking on a trail
Stay safe while hiking by using apps to plan your adventure.

Podcast App Of Your Choice

While part of hiking is enjoying the sounds of nature, it is also nice to have another form of entertainment on longer or multi-day hikes. Here are some of the most popular:

  • Apple Podcasts
  • Google Podcasts
  • Spotify
  • Amazon Music
  • Audible

Downloading podcasts before you hit the trails can be a great source of entertainment. Be sure to only use one airpod or turn on transparency so you can hear any animals or other hikers crossing your path.

SkyView

On multi-day hikes that require camping, SkyView is a fun way to connect with nature. The app identifies stars and planets and shows different constellations. If you have some basic survivalist tracking skills and are lost, you can use the app to locate the North Star to help navigate to safety.

Best Hiking Gear 2024 - The HikingGuy 10 Essentials

Hit the Trails With These Apps On Hand

One of the best parts of hiking is disconnecting from the digital world. However, using the best hiking apps to find trails and stay safe en route will ultimately enhance your experience. These tools ensure a practical and efficient approach to enjoying the outdoors.

What are your must-have hiking apps? Let us know in the comments!

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About Jessi Blanarik

While originally from Pennsylvania, Jessi has spent the last few years living in various countries throughout South America, Southeast Asia, and Europe. She started her career as an ESL teacher in Prague and then taught online to kids in China while traveling around the world. She fell in love with the culinary, beverage, and tourism industries throughout her travels. She received funding from the European Union to pursue her master's degree in Wine Tourism and Sustainability with the Wintour Erasmus Mundus Program. Throughout her master's she researched the benefits of blog writing within the wine and sustainable tourism industries and developed models for writers to apply to their tourism-centered content. She has experience as a freelance tourism writer for various online platforms focused on wine tourism, sustainable tourism practices, and unique travel experiences. She also runs her own personal website Jessi's Journey where she helps travelers plan their trips, gives tips for digital nomad life, and encourages solo travel.

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