Best Apps For Tracking Hikes

If you’re a hiker, you know the importance of keeping track of your route and progress. This is especially true when you’re trying to get away from your phone, or if you’re in a new place where you’re not familiar with the terrain.

Whether it’s a day hike or an overnight backpacking trip, knowing where you are and how far you’ve gone can help keep you safe, ensure that you don’t lose any time or distance, and give you some peace of mind when it comes to navigation.

That’s why we’ve put together this list of some of our favorite apps for tracking hikes, so that next time you hit the trail, no matter how long or short your journey may be, you’ll have all the information at your fingertips.

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20 best hiking apps to download in 2021 - Atlas & Boots

Best Apps For Tracking Hikes

In today’s world, we carry our smartphones every… including on the hiking trails! Your iPhone is way more than just a phone. It’s a compass, flashlight, camera, and GPS.

I know you’re probably thinking, “isn’t the whole point of hiking to escape technology?”. Yes, in theory… but are you really going to leave your phone at home?

Instead, consider downloading these 12 best hiking apps to enhance your hiking experience!

This post shares the best hiking apps on the market, including:

Best GPS hiking apps
Best apps for finding hiking trails
Best free hiking apps
And the best hiking app for Apple watch!
Without further ado, here are the 12 best hiking apps on the market.

Looking for most hiking gear and tips? Check out these posts!

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Ultimate Guide to Hiking for Beginners
This post may contain affiliate links, where I may a small commission at no additional cost to you. Read more in this disclosure policy.

Table of Contents show
Why Do You Need Hiking Apps
There’s a seemingly endless number of hiking apps out there, from navigation to inspiration! So what can a hiking app do for you? Well, it turns out quite a lot…

Inspiration – An app is a great way to discover hikes in your area and across the globe! You can save hikes you’re interested in, avoiding the Saturday morning google search of “best hikes near me”.
Navigation – An app can also help you find your trailhead and stay on course. This is particularly important if you’re going on a hike in an area with limited cell service.
Learn – A smartphone is a walking encyclopedia, ready to help you learn about anything (it’s smart for a reason!). There are hiking apps out there to teach you about plants, wildlife, and constellations.
Performance Tracking – Not only can you use an app to track a hike for later, but you can also share hike performance. I love a good competition, so tracking hikes with friends and family is great motivation.
Best Hiking Apps
Best Free Hiking App: AllTrails (iOS & Android)
Best GPS App for Hiking: Gaia GPS (iOS & Android)
Best App for Hiking Trails Inspiration: Hiking Project (iOS & Android)
Most Unique Hiking App: Seek by iNaturalist (iOS & Android)
Best Apple Watch Hiking App: Apple Fitness Tracker (iOS only)
Are you planning a hike, but aren’t sure what to pack? Get this free, printable hiking gear checklist. This guide covers the 30+ items you need for your next hike, from the 10 hiking essentials to the luxury items to enjoy your adventure.

Download the free hiking gear checklist here.

  1. AllTrails
    AllTrails is one of the best hiking apps in the appstore
    Screenshots from Apple App Store
    AllTrails is one of the most well-known hiking apps out there. With over 20 million users and 100,000 trails worldwide, it’s easy to see why. This is my go-to hike planning app.

Hikes are searchable based on difficulty, length, elevation gain, route type, and user rating. You can also search hikes based on tags, like trail running, dog-friendly, or wildflowers.

Once you find a hike, you can view specific details, like distance and an elevation profile map. All Trails also provides tips and information on getting to the trailhead, how long the hike should take, and reviews from users.

All Trails also allows its users to record their hikes, tracking the route using GPS and time to complete.

While the base version of All Trails is free, they also offer a Pro version for $29.99 per year. AllTrails Pro allows you to download maps offline and sends you notifications if you stray off-trail. The Pro version also comes with 3D maps!

Available on: iOS & Android
Price: Free & Paid Versions ($29.99/year)

  1. Gaia GPS
    Gaia GPS Hiking App
    Screenshot from Apple App Store
    Gaia GPS is one of the most popular hiking apps for navigation. In this app, you can do everything: finding new trails, recording your route, and saving hike statistics and performance.

The app will even tell you the weather forecast and help you find camping near your hike!

There is both a free and paid version of the Gaia GPS hiking app. For most day hikers, the free version is enough. In the free version, you can view both topographic and satellite maps and track your hike with cell service.

For backpackers or advanced hikers, I recommend the paid version. For only $39.99 per year, the paid version of Gaia GPS unlocks offline maps, including backpacking, off-road driving, backcountry skiing, and mountain biking maps. The offline map feature is crucial for being able to navigate and stay on trail without cell service.

Available on: iOS & Android
Price: Free & Paid Versions ($39.99/year)

  1. PeakVisor
    PeakVisor hiking App
    Screenshot from Apple App Store
    Have you ever looked off in the distance and said, “what mountain is that?”. If so, I’ve got good news for you! It’s an app called PeakVisor. Here’s how it works: you open the app on your phone, point it at the peak, and it will tell you, using a combination of image recognition and GPS location.

You can even upload pictures of mountains from past hikes or when you’re without service and the app will identify those too! The catalog of mountain peaks is over 1 million. This app also offers a compass, great for navigation on hikes.

PeakVisor comes in both a free and pro version. The free version allows you to use most of the app’s features. The Pro version’s biggest advantage is offline peak identification and maps – no cell service required!

Available on: iOS & Android
Price: Free & Pro Versions ($29.99/year)

  1. Google Maps
    Google Maps is one of the best hiking apps in the appstore
    Screenshots from Apple App Store
    There’s a very high likelihood you’re already using this app. But I’d be willing to bet you’re not using it to its full functionality. Google Maps‘ best feature for hikers is the ability to download maps offline.

Downloading maps ahead of time will ensure you’re able to navigate to the trailhead even if you lose service. Since GPS continues to work without cell phone service, you can use Google Maps to navigate with your downloaded map.

Many popular trails in busy parks are also shown on Google Maps, allowing you to track your progress on the trail and stay on track.

In the app, you can download a customized region. I recommend downloading the area from your home to your trailhead and the full trail area.

To download offline in Google Maps, just go to the app, select Offline Maps from the menu, select a custom map to highlight the area, and then click download.

Available on: iOS & Android
Price: Free

  1. Guthook Guides
    Guthook Guides Hiking App
    Screenshot from Apple App Store
    Guthook Guides is the most popular smartphone app for long-distance hiking and backpacking. With over 35,000 miles of trails in its database, it’s a go-to for thru-hikes like the Pacific Crest Trail or the Appalachian Trail. In fact, it was developed by former thru-hikers who understood the need for a reliable offline map.

In the app, you’ll find detailed trail information like distance, elevation, waypoints, water sources, and campsites, all viewable on topographic or satellite maps. The app actively tracks your location on the map, making sure you’re always on trail. All of this works offline without cell reception.

The app itself is free, but each trail is purchased individually. You can buy full trail guides for thru-hikes or buy smaller trail guides for national parks. The guides range from $4.99 to $59.99, depending on trail length. The app does offer some free demo trails to get you started too.

Available on: iOS & Android
Price: Free, but requires in-app purchases of the guides ($4.99-$59.99 per guide)

  1. Hiking Project
    Hiking Project is one of the best hiking apps in the appstore
    Screenshots from Apple App Store
    This crowd-sourced hiking app is also great for inspiration. While a lot of the functionality is similar to AllTrails, Hiking Project provides points of interest (labeled as “Gems” in the app).

You can search for hikes by region, by point of interest, or by hike features. With hikes mainly in the US and Canada, Hiking Project allows you to see stats by state, including trails ranked by popularity.

For a specific hike, you can view detailed descriptions, wildlife and plants in the area, reviews by users, and trail conditions. Using the Hiking Project app, you can get a feel for the hike before you even step foot on the trail.

Available on: iOS & Android
Price: Free

  1. Recreation.Gov
    Recreation.Gov is one of the best hiking apps in the appstore
    Screenshots from Apple App Store
    If you’re an avid national park camper, you’re probably already familiar with this app. But Recreation.Gov can be used for a lot more than booking campsites. This app is also a platform to book tours, tickets, and permits.

Many US national parks offer ticketed ranger-led tours, like Fiery Furnace in Arches National Park, bookable through the app. Permits to wilderness areas, like Mt. Whitney or the Lost Coast in California, are booked through this app too.

Recreation.Gov is the official place to enter lotteries for permits to places like The Wave in Arizona or Half Dome in Yosemite.

You can also buy interagency passes, like the America the Beautiful National Park Pass, through the Recreation.Gov app.

The moral of the story is that Recreation.Gov is one of the best hiking apps for government lands. If you’re trying to book permits or campgrounds, most sites open up around 6 months in advance.

Available on: iOS & Android
Price: Free

  1. National Park Service App
    National Park Service App
    Screenshot from Apple App Store
    For national park lovers, the National Park Service app is a must! This app has everything you need to know about all 423 national park units, including the 63 US national parks. You’ll find information on the best things to do (including lots of hikes), where to stay, tours, park amenities, and more.

Not sure what park you want to visit? You can explore all the various national parks and create your own favorites, lists, and mark parks as visited.

The app also provides details on each park’s most popular hikes, including distance and time to complete the hike. You’ll also find directions to trailheads and maps available offline for when you’re without cell service.

Available on: iOS & Android
Price: Free

  1. Seek by iNaturalist
    Seek by iNaturalist is one of the best hiking apps in the appstore
    Screenshots from Apple App Store
    Have you ever seen a plant on the trail and wondered, “what kind of plant is that?”. I used to do this all the time and I’d think to myself, wow wouldn’t it be really cool if there was an app that could tell you these things. Well, it turns out there is!

One of the coolest hiking apps is Seek by iNaturalist. It was developed by the California Academy of Sciences and National Geographic. Seek uses your camera and GPS location to identify plants and animals you encounter on the trail.

To use, simply take a photo of your subject using the app. Seek uses your location to narrow down possible species and gives you more information about what you’ve found.

And because everything is more fun if it’s a game, you can earn badges and achievements based on the species you discover.

Available on: iOS & Android
Price: Free

  1. SkyView Lite
    Skyview Lite is one of the best hiking apps in the appstore
    Screenshots from Apple App Store
    This free hiking app is the only tool you need to identify planets, stars, and constellations in the night sky. The app uses the phone’s built-in compass to locate astronomical objects.

The app overlays graphics of night sky objects based on where you point your phone. Plus, you can read more about the object of interest, such as the International Space Station.

You can even set notifications for upcoming stargazing events, like meteor showers or planet sightings. I’ve found this app to be great for stargazing before sunrise hikes or after sunset hikes.

The free, “lite” version is great for most hikers, but the full, paid version o the app offers an apple watch app, a widget for your phone, and thousands of additional night sky objects!

The full Skyview app only costs $1.99 to purchase.

Available on: iOS & Android
Price: Free & Paid Versions ($1.99 one-time fee)

  1. Cairn
    Cairn Hiking App
    Screenshot from Apple App Store
    Cairn is the ultimate hiking safety app! All the app’s features are designed to keep you safe on the hiking trail. The most popular features include sharing your route and GPS location with friends and family, downloading offline maps, and real-time location and status updates.

The app tracks your estimated time to complete the hike from your location and helps you track your progress with offline trail maps. You’ll also find information on where other hikers have found cell service along the hike and be notified when you enter an area that has cell service.

The free version of the app lets you use the basic features, like maps, trails, and cell coverage when you have cell service. The paid version allows you to use the app entirely offline, including offline maps and live progress updates to your emergency contacts.

All users can get a 30 day free trial of the paid version before purchasing.

Cairn is available for Android or iPhone with a 60-day free trial.

Available on: iOS & Android
Price: Free & Paid Versions ($26.99/year)

  1. Apple Watch Workout App
    Activity by Apple Watch is one of the best hiking apps in the appstore
    Screenshots from Apple App Store
    The workout app native to Apple Watch is the best hiking app for your Apple Watch! Wearing a fitness tracker is an easy way to keep track of the distance you’ve covered on the trail. If you use other Apple products, then I highly recommend investing in an Apple Watch.

With its custom ‘Hiking’ tracking feature, the app logs your time, active calories, heart rate, distance, and elevation. After your hike, you can see a summary of the exercise and a GPS map of your route with mile times. It’s one of the best ways to track your progress as you train for longer, harder hikes.

Available on: iOS
Price: Free (requires an Apple Watch though)

best hiking apps europe

Whilst there’s something to be said for heading into the mountains to get away from it all. There are a few hiking apps that can help you make the most of your experience. I’ve collated a list of the best hiking apps I’ve found for the Alps:

1 – View Ranger
View ranger hiking apps
This is my absolute favourite hiking app. The GPS locator is extremely accurate and has helped me out in a white out or two! You buy credits from the online map store which you can then use to buy entire maps or just a few map squares that you will need for your hike. Once you have a map downloaded you can then access it in offline mode. Other cool features include the ability to track your route and look for hikes in your area. You can also plot a route on the map and it will give you stats on the total distance and ascent/descent.

2 – Switzerland Mobility
swiss mobility hiking apps
If you have internet signal, then this mapping app is an amazing free GPS that covers Switzerland and the surrounding mountainous regions. It covers the whole of the Haute Route and the Tour du Mont Blanc (except one tiny section in Italy). Upgrading to Switzerland Mobility Plus unlocks extra features such as; offline mapping, GPS tracking and the ability to plot your route on the map before setting out for the day. The cost of the upgraded version is just 35CHF per year and can be used by everyone in the household. On both the free and paid for version you can activate different overlays for the map. One of the most useful overlays is the public transport links which shows the location of bus/train stops. Clicking on a bus stop or train station takes you directly to the appropriate website where you can view the timetable and buy your ticket.

3 – Meteo Swiss
meteo swiss hiking apps
You can’t beat Swiss weather forecasting and this app from Meteo Swiss has tons of useful information; weather reports, animations showing predicted weather patterns for the next few days and a live ‘on site’ weather forecaster showing what the next weather change will be. If you are hiking in winter it also includes a map showing the avalanche forecast for all the regions in Switzerland

4 – Weather Live
weather live hiking apps
Outside of Switzerland, this is a great weather app. It has a very detailed weather report which is updated in live time and includes; real temperature, felt temperature, sun rise and sun set, the moon state, wind speed, precipitation, chance of rain, visibility and a rain map.

5 – Wild Flowers: Identify 1727 flowers of Western Europe
wild flowers hiking apps
Of all the flower apps I have tried, this is the most comprehensive. The flower finding ‘wizard’ is very intuitive and helps you narrow down the flower you have found by describing its colour, flower and leaf shape. Each flower entry comes with a photo, the common and latin name, it’s flowering period, a description of the ecology it favours and a map showing its distribution. You can also save flowers you have spotted into a diary and write notes on them.

6 – Peak Finder
peak finder hiking apps
If you have a good GPS on your phone then this hiking app is spookily accurate. Point your camera at the horizon and peak finder will show you the name of the mountains you are looking at. If you touch the name of a mountain, the app will bring up additional information about the mountain and you can even ‘fly to it’ and get a view of the mountains you would be able to see from its summit! You can also overlay the image from your camera with the labelled drawing from Peak Finder and take a snapshot to share it with your friends later. Hours of fun!

7 – First aid by British red cross
first aid hiking apps
It can be easy to forget first aid when you are in a stressful situation. This app includes an emergency section to help you know what to do in situations such as a heart attack, severe bleed or asthma attack. It also has a learning section with videos and quizzes to teach you basic first aid. It’s a British app and so the emergency number on the app is for the UK. In the Alps you can use 112 to contact ambulance, fire and rescue and police in all EU countries.

8 – Chamonix App
chamonix hiking apps
If you are going to spend a few days in Chamonix before the Tour du Mont Blanc or Haute route, it’s worth downloading this free app. It has lots of useful information such as; the weather forecast, lift opening times, live webcams for mountain areas, restaurants and events.

9 – Rando Savoie Mont Blanc
rando hiking apps
Covering the departments of Savoie and Haute Savoie (France), this app has a list of some of the best hikes in the region. By clicking on your map location, it’s possible to view hikes and mountain refuges in the area. The mapping system is good and you can download GPX tracks for your GPS, but it doesn’t allow offline download of the maps on the system. This app is best used for inspiration in conjunction with another mapping app for navigation.

10 – Google Translate App

French, German and Italian are the three main languages spoken in the Alps. The google translate App allows offline download of languages so that you can use it without internet. You can save your commonly used expressions into a phrase book and you can also listen to how words are pronounced before giving it a try yourself. By aiming your smart phone camera at a menu the app will automatically pick up the words and translate them for you onto your screen.

What are your favourite hiking apps?
Leave a comment below!

Author Recent Posts

Jennifer Stretton
Jen grew up about as far from the mountains and nature as you can get—in Birmingham, UK. When she first visited the Alps on a university climbing trip, she immediately fell in love with the place. After graduating with a degree in Geography, Jennifer spent the next few years travelling the world, volunteering with conservation charities and freelance marketing to fund her adventures. In 2015 she settled full time in the Chamonix Valley and began training to become an international mountain leader.

An avid climber and environmentalist, Jen’s passion for the mountains and the natural world is contagious. When she’s not guiding, Jennifer spends her free time climbing, skiing, travelling and trying to keep up with her dog on trail runs. Sociable, caring and always smiling, Jen is the perfect guide to keep you laughing and motivated on your journey. She looks forward to meeting you next summer!


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