The 7 Best Hiking GPS Apps

Take these essential apps with you on your hike

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Planning your perfect hike, training run, or bike ride is just an app away with one of these GPS hiking apps. Your smartphone is an essential companion on a hike, so add an app or two to help you make the most of your trip.

Some of these apps track your workout on the hike so that you can see exactly how far and how high you moved, how many calories you burned, and where you should go to complete a trail. You can even build your own hikes in some of these apps so that other users can use your custom trails for their hiking adventures.

Most of these hiking apps are free to download and offer in-app purchases for more features.

Although these apps have offline features and can function in some instances without an internet connection, the apps are most useful when GPS is running in the background. This dramatically decreases battery life. Be sure to take portable battery packs with you on your trip and charge your devices whenever you can (there are even portable solar chargers you can buy).

Map My Hike GPS Hiking

Screenshots of the Map My Hike iPhone app

What We Like

  • Useful for other route-focused activities such as horseback riding.

  • Accurate tracking of many statistics.

  • Partially unmarked trails are mapped out.

What We Don't Like

  • Includes pauses in final statistics.

  • Requires login, which can be problematic when hiking in remote areas.

The Map My Hike app includes the full set of features for hiking and running such as an easy-to-use maps and tracks feature, a fitness-oriented dashboard for your cumulative stats, and activity feed community sharing.

The Map My Hike app:

  • Syncs your account with other health apps such as Apple Health
  • Connects to your wearable device
  • Produces a 24/7 activity graph
  • Tracks hiking boot or shoe mileage
  • Records pace, distance, calorie burn, and elevation
  • Syncs with Under Armour smart shoes
  • Includes driving directions to the trailhead
  • Filters by kid-friendly, wheelchair-friendly and dog-friendly trails

AllTrails

Screenshots of the AllTrails iPhone app

What We Like

  • Clean, intuitive interface.

  • Active user community with trail reviews.

  • Great way to discover nearby trails you weren't aware of.

What We Don't Like

  • Access to advanced features such as map editing and printing, verified routes, and offline hikes requires a paid subscription.

  • Route gradings are highly subjective.

AllTrails is a hiking and running app known for its guides to more than 50,000 trails across North America, including photos, reviews, and tracks. You can also record your tracks for others to view and follow.

AllTrail's browse capability lets you locate trails closest to you. The community reviews are monitored by AllTrails and include an abundance of useful information and honest user feedback. You can also view topographic maps for most trails and backcountry regions.

Some of AllTrail's other notable features are:

  • Geotagged photos
  • Social sharing of tracks and trips
  • Provisions for reading and writing trail reviews
  • Access to trail database without an internet connection
  • Trail reviews 
  • Route planning with Map Editor and map downloads for offline use

Maps 3D Pro

Screenshots of the Maps 3D Pro iPhone app

What We Like

  • No internet access required to downloaded maps.

  • Topographic detail is greater than that of many other apps.

What We Don't Like

  • No Android version.

  • Can consume lots of battery life.

The Maps 3D Pro hiking app focuses on map usage, which is perfect if you're unhappy with the lack of terrain detail in other hiking apps.

This app lets you download maps offline, perfect for those remote trips where a signal is unattainable. It provides excellent detail about the hike.

You'll immediately notice with this app that there are actual hills and valleys and water shown in great detail. This makes planning for a hike easy because you can see where the trail takes you around mountains and other natural structures.

Additionally, Maps 3D Pro has:

  • An easy-to-use search feature
  • Rich 2D and 3D color topo map views
  • Towns, streets lakes and mountain peaks that are searchable based on NASA scans and USGS topo maps
  • Offline access to worldwide 3D maps to limit battery drain when trip planning
  • Map storage for times when you can't get a signal

Maps 3D Pro also records your routes for later use and can track the distance you travel and how fast you move

Ramblr

Screenshots of the Ramblr iPhone app

What We Like

  • Serves as a multimedia travel diary to record every detail of a hike.

  • Share trips with other users.

What We Don't Like

  • Button functions are not intuitive.

  • Installation requires permissions that you may find objectionable.

Travel is an adventure you want to share with your friends and family. If you want to journal and share your adventures online, check out Ramblr, the best outdoor journaling app.

Ramblr isn't just a journaling app. It offers route tracking, downloadable maps, GPS directions, and other hikers' trips to follow.

The heart of Ramblr is the ability to chronicle your trips with multiple photos, videos, GPS tracks, and stats including elevation, distance, and speed.

Use Ramblr to:

  • Track your route on the map
  • Check out the stats for your trip such as highest point, distance, and speed
  • Record and tag video, images, audio and text descriptions to point on your trip map
  • Upload your story. The app integrates seamlessly with Facebook and Twitter
  • Use the built-in GPS and download maps for offline use

SAS Survival Guide

Screenshots of the SAS Survival Guide iPhone app

What We Like

  • Easy to look up plants, animals, survival strategies, and more.

  • Emphasis on safety.

What We Don't Like

  • Some functions require internet access.

  • In-app purchases.

The SAS Survival Guide is by far the most comprehensive and down-to-business survival app out there. Written by former British Special Air Service soldier and instructor John "Lofty" Wiseman, the guide is based on the best-selling book of the same name.

The app includes:

  • Full text of the bestselling book (400+ pages) organized and optimized for the app (English language content only)
  • 16 videos by Wiseman
  • Image galleries of animal tracks, knots, and edible, medicinal, and poisonous plants
  • Morse code signaling device
  • Survival checklist
  • Compass
  • Extreme climates sections including polar, desert, tropical and sea

Most of the app content does not require an internet connection, but some parts of it, such as the videos and social sharing features, must have an active internet connection to function.

Spyglass

Screenshots of the Spyglass iPhone app

What We Like

  • Use stars to find your way at night.

  • Incorporates many tools in an interesting app.

What We Don't Like

  • Consumes lots of battery power.

  • Access to many functions requires the paid version.

Spyglass is the ultimate adventure app. It combines GPS with a compass, gyrocompass, and maps toolkit for memorable hikes. With its built-in star guide, you can navigate by the night sky map to find the nearest trail. 

Spyglass serves as binoculars, heads-up display, high-tech compass with offline maps, gyrocompass, GPS receiver, speedometer, and altimeter.

With Spyglass you can:

  • Save waypoints and navigate to them later
  • Use real-time augmented reality displays 
  • Measure distances, sizes, and angles
  • Operate in 3D
  • Track multiple targets simultaneously
  • Show estimated time of arrival
  • Use sextant, angular calculator, and inclinometer to find out the heights of and distance to objects

Peakfinder

A screenshot of the PeakFinder app that includes a woman using the app to name the peaks in a mountain range.

Courtesy of PeakFinder 

What We Like

  • No internet connection required.

  • Peak directory updated weekly.

What We Don't Like

  • Metric units only.

  • Android version lacks some features found in the iOS version.

If you love to hike in the mountains, take the Peakfinder app along with you. Just aim your smartphone camera at a mountain range, and the app overlays the names of the mountains and peaks—from the tallest mountain to modest foothills. 

Here's some more information on this hiking app:

  • Shows more than 350,000 peak names (with weekly updates)
  • Works offline and worldwide
  • Digital telescope to select less prominent peaks
  • Compass and motion sensors
  • Real-time rendering of surrounding landscape for 200 miles

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