You can use the best hiking apps to find new trails near you, scenic outlooks, and new places to explore.
I’m hiking almost every day in 2020. It’s one of the few things you can still easily do. For me, it’s about more than a walk, it’s about finding beautiful scenes, seeing wildlife, and reflecting in ways that you can’t do quite as easily while strolling down the block where you live.
These hiking apps can help you discover a new trail 10 minutes away, or plan out a road trip to the ultimate hike. Right now I am focusing on day hikes, rather than through hiking, so these apps will focus on exploring around you, instead of planning out a walk across America, the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail. Even though I’m hoping to add those to my list.
- Gaia GPS
- Instagram & TikTok
- Star Walk 2
Here’s a closer look at the best hiking apps I’ve found in 2020.
AllTrails is my favorite hiking app. A friend turned me on to this app this summer, and it’s been an amazing resource for finding new trails.
There are filters for trail difficulty, to see if a trail is dog-friendly, kid-friendly or wheelchair friendly. There are off-track alerts if you wander off the trail and there is a Lifeline feature that lets you share your planned route, start and finish times, and send updates to your safety contacts. If you miss your planned finish time the Lifeline automatically sends an alert to the contacts with your last known location.
If you are looking for new trails to hike nearby or planning out a trip this is an essential tool. The app is free to download and use, but there is a Pro option for $29.99 a year or $59.99 for three years if you want to keep maps offline and unlock other features.
If you are hiking where there are mountains, the PeakVisor app is a must-have. This allows you to point your phone’s camera at the peaks in the distance and see the names and elevations of over 100 peaks.
You can also see hiking routes and even use photos you’ve taken in the past to see what the peaks were.
The app is free on iPhone with the PeakVisor Pro option for $3.49 a month on iPhone and $4.49 as a one time purchase on Android.
Cairn is an amazing app for hiking that will help keep you safe. The app allows you to plan and set up a hike, and then if you are not back by the time you suggested it will alert friends or family that you select.
These contacts can also see your location with GPS while you are on the hike and you can send updates with a tap. This is a great option for safe hiking.
The maps also include crowdsourced cell coverage, so that you can find a place to get online if you need to check-in or you need help.
There is a free 30-day trial and then a $26.99 a year subscription or $4.99 a month.
If you are ready to extend your hikes and go further then you will likely want the GAIA GPS app on your phone.
The free version works while you have cell service, and you can get a basic membership for $17 a year to download the maps, but if you go Premium for $36 a year then you get all kinds of information to plan out longer trips through the backcountry or on long trails.
While you can track your hike using AllTrails and many fitness apps the MapMyRun app is an interesting option.
If you have smart shoes from Under Armour you can track mileage so that you know when it is time to replace your shoes.
This app can use smart shoes to track your cadence and other stats while you hike.
If you choose the Hike option, you can then look for hikes nearby that other users uploaded.
Instagram & TikTok
While Instagram and TikTok may not seem like the best hiking apps at first, they do offer a great way to find new places to hike. Check out the #hike or #hiking hashtags on each social network and you’ll soon find inspiring places to add to your wishlist.
I’m planning my first trip to a new place that I discovered on TikTok this month, and Instagram is a source of many trails that are getting added to my must-try list.
Audible is great for bringing a favorite book with you on a hike. Sometimes I hike to clear my head and listen to all of nature, and other times I want to bring a novel or a non-fiction book with me.
When using Audible I like using one AirPod Pro to listen to a story while I hike and pay attention to nature around me with my other ear.
- Active noise cancellation for immersive sound
- Transparency mode for hearing and connecting with the world around you
- Three sizes of soft, tapered silicone tips for a customizable fit
- Sweat and water resistant
- Adaptive EQ automatically tunes music to the shape of your ear
Star Walk 2
With Star Walk, you can quickly identify the constellations, stars, and planets above you. The app will even show you the ISS flyby.
Simply open the app, point your phone at the sky and then Augmented Reality will show you what is above you. It’s a fun way to know what is up there and to learn about the stars.
The app is free to download and 99 cents for a month, or $4.99 for a year.
Last update on 2020-12-15. This post may contain affiliate links. Click here to read our disclosure policy for more details. Images via Amazon API