Chances are that if you’re into hiking, you’ve looked into the best hiking apps for your phone or even hiking apps for your apple watch and Garmin. I mean, after all, there’s an app for that, right? And yes, there is an app for hiking. In fact, there are maaaany apps for hiking, and knowing which one is best can be difficult.
There are free hiking apps, paid hiking apps, some that deal more with other sports such as ski touring or mountain biking, and everyone has their own preference.
This post looks at the best apps for hikers in 2022 and I’ll share with you the hiking apps I use whether I’m using an app for planning hikes or an app for hiking navigation.
The Very Best Hiking Apps in 2022
Inside this guide to the best hiking apps on the market you’ll find:
- The best GPS hiking apps
- Best free hiking apps
- Best apps for finding hiking trails
- And the best hiking app for Apple watch or hiking apps for your Garmin!
Things to know before using hiking apps
- While hiking apps are great for navigation, you shouldn’t rely on them. You should know where you’re going before heading out on a hike and ideally be carrying a paper map with you. Phones are prone to running out of battery right when you need them!
- Some hiking apps allow you to share your location with a friend, in addition to this you should always leave a trip plan with a friend or two before heading out. A trip plan should include: what trail you’re hiking, when you’re starting, what you’re wearing & taking with you, and when you’re expected back.
- If you’re using your phone for navigation, and especially for recording your hike, you should consider taking an extra battery pack to charge your phone with while on trail. At the very least, use airplane mode!
Why I use apps for hiking
I have several hiking apps on my iPhone and I use them for a variety of different things. From recording my route to finding routes to hike in the first place, and even learning about what I see during my hike!
- Navigation: Many of the best hiking apps will help you navigate the trails when you’re exploring. The best ones do so without cell service or a need for data.
- Inspiration: I also use my hiking apps to find the best hikes near me, especially ones that I haven’t come across before. You can use the number of reviews to judge how busy you think it’s going to be before going, and read comments to find out current trail conditions too.
- Safety: Some apps allow you to send messages and updates to your contacts to let them know you’re okay and that you’ve returned back home or to your car safely. This is great if you’re looking for apps for solo hikers!
- Learning: Ever been out on the trail and wondered “what’s that mountain called?” Me too! Luckly for me, there’s an app for that! You can also learn the tree names, names of flowers and even constellations while youre camping!
- Tracking your fitness: Another reason I use hiking apps (like Strava) is to track my fitness and see where I’ve got faster. I love a bit of competition with myself.
Best Hiking Apps Overview
- Best free hiking app: AllTrails (iOS & Android)
- Best app for hiking safety: BC AdventureSmart (iOS & Android)
- Best app for hiking trails inspiration: Komoot (iOS & Android)
- Most unique hiking app: Merlin (iOS & Android)
- Best Apple watch hiking app: Apple Fitness Tracker (iOS only)
- Best hiking app for Garmin watch: Garmin Connect
AllTrails is the hiking app I use the most when it comes to planning my hikes, finding new trails to explore, and (before I got my Garmin Instinct watch), for tracking my hikes too.
AllTrails is one of the most popular hiking apps and has over 20 million users and 100,000 trails worldwide. You can search based on difficulty, length, elevation gain, user rating, proximity to where you are now, and route type. You can also search for pet-friendly trails which is super useful if you’re hiking with dogs.
Being able to read user comments is super helpful most of the time. You can get recent updates on road conditions to the trailhead, an idea of how busy the trail is, whether the trail is still snowy, and more.
You can record your hike using the GPS app and also add a contact to which you can send updates about how the hike is going.
You can use a basic version of AllTrails for free, but I highly recommend getting AllTrails Pro if you’re someone who hikes quite a bit. It allows you to download maps to use offline and notifies you if you get off your planned route.
I use Strava for tracking the amount of activity I do and the speed at which I do it. You can track your hike within the Strava app, or connect it with your Apple or Garmin GPS watch.
You can also export your route recorded in AllTrails or another hiking app and upload it to Strava when you return home.
At the end of the year, it’s nice to be able to see how much you’ve hiked and how your speed has changed over time! It’s great to use as a walking tracking app for free or for tracking whatever exercise you want.
Komoot is another hiking app that works in a very similar way to All Trails making it one of the best walk tracking apps. You can find new places to explore whether on foot or by bike.
One of the unique features of Komoot is the ability to create guides. With these guides, you can group together some of the best hiking trails and bike routes in the area to recommend to people. This makes it great if you’re new to an area and looking for some hiking inspiration apps!
This trail hiking app is one I use mostly for ski touring (due to the way it shows the slope angle!), but there are some great features for hiking too. Like other hiking apps, you can both record and navigate your hike using this hiking app’s GPS and discover new trails by seeing what other people have uploaded.
My favourite thing about Fat Map though is the way it shows you your hike once you’ve finished it and saved the route.
Called FlyOver, the app shows your route in 3D and takes you flying on the route you’ve just completed! It’s pretty cool. You can also connect it with Strava to get these FlyOver routes, even if you haven’t recorded your hike directly in-app.
If you’re a mountain biker then you’ve likely come across Trailforks before.
Trailforks is renowned amongst mountain bikers but they’ve recently been trying to include more hiking trails on their app too. You can download maps to work offline and use them as a planning tool too.
The routes are often colour graded so you can see the difficulty and there’s plenty of information about whether this is also used by bikers, runners, or horseriders which is handy to know!
If you’re someone who bikes as well as hikes and only one to get one hiking app subscription, I’d recommend this one!
You can also get a subscription with an Outside+ membership getting you access to the magazine as well.
6. GaiaGPS App
Gaia GPS is another of the great apps for hiking trails and is also a super popular hiking app when it comes to navigation.
It does everything you’d want from a hiking app including finding new trails, saving hike stats and performance, and recording your route.
You can also get the weather forecast and find spots to camp near the trail which is super useful for planning a hike via an app!
Like most hiking apps, there’s a paid version too. If you’re a day hiker and hiking in areas with cell service, the free version will likely be enough, but for hikes in more remote areas and multi-day hikes, the paid version is worth the cost as you’ll get offline maps.
There are also some really cool overlays you can put over your maps to show you things such as Public Lands, National Park maps and more.
7. Peak Finder
Love knowing what mountains you can see while you’re out hiking? You’ll love the Peak Finder app!
There’s no free version of Peak Finder, but it’s worth the C$6.99 you pay to get the names of the mountains you’re eye-ing up from another summit.
Simply log in, calibrate your phone following the instructions, and then the app will show you which mountains you’re looking at along with their names and their heights. It works so well!
8. Merlin – Shazam for Birds App
Another great hiking app for learning is Merlin from Cornell University. It’s basically Shazam but for bird sound!
There are numerous times I’ve heard a bird call and wished I was more knowledgeable to tell what bird it was. This app answers the questions for me!
You can also identify birds based on what they look like. Just answer three simple questions about a bird you are trying to identify and Merlin will give you a list of possible matches.
9. FarOut formerly Guthook Guides
If you’ve ever thought about doing a Thru-hike in the US or watching any YouTube videos about it, chances are you’ve come across the hiking app Guthook Guides.
Though you don’t have to be doing a long-distance trail, this is where the FarOut/Guthook app really excels. Their maps work offline with no data or internet required after initial setup, there are detailed waypoints and town resupply guides, and the ability to check in with friends and family to let them know you’re okay.
- Available on: iOS & Android
- Price: Free with inapp purchases depending on trails you want to download
10. BRMB Maps App
We own a couple of the paper versions of Backroad Maps for a few areas within British Columbia and they’re great for all sorts of adventures!
You can see the types of different roads (dirt, 4×4 only, main road, etc), camping spots, hiking trails, dirt bike trails, fishing spots, and more.
You can now get the maps on the BBRMB Maps: app too which is great since taking a whole map with you hiking isn’t always practical.
These maps are some of the most detailed ones I’ve found in Canada and I highly recommend them especially for finding less popular routes and planning backcountry adventures.
11. Recreation.Gov App
If you’re in the US, or planning to visit National Parks in the US (see my guides!), then you’ll need this app as it’s great for booking campsites up to 6-months in advance, tours, and US hiking permits through this app. However, this hiking app can do a whole lot more.
Many National Parks in America now require you to book ranger-led tours and you can also get permits for hikes and wilderness areas through this app. For example, it’s the official place to put your name in for the lotteries to get a spot to hike Half Dome in Yosemite or The Wave in Arizona.
12. National Park Service App
US national park lovers should definitely get the National Park Service app is a must!
On this hiking app, you can get all the information you need about 63 of the US national parks and 423 national park units. There’s information on the best things to do, such as US national park hikes, where to stay, park amenities, tours, and more.
The hiking part of the National Park Service App not only tells you about the trail but also gives you information on the time taken to complete a hike and you can get offline maps too.
Another great app for finding out more about nature when you’re hiking is iNaturalist.
iNaturalist describes itself as a social network for sharing biodiversity information to help each other learn about nature.
You simply take a picture of something you saw during your hike then upload it to the app later. The app will then match your photo with things that look similar and you can learn more about your plants.
iNaturalist is also a citizen scientist app, by uploading these photos, scientists can learn more about the biodiversity in an area and look for trends in nature.
14. SkyView Lite
Doing a backpacking trip? Make sure you add this backpacking app to your phone! SkyView Lite is the perfect app for looking at the amazing night sky when you’re away from city lights!
Working in a similar way to Peak Finder, SkyView Lite is a free version of SkyView which uses GPS to show you the constellations in the night sky.
You can even set it up to send you notifications for upcoming stargazing events such as planet sightings and meteor showers.
15. BC AdventureSmart Trip Plan App
This app might only work in Canada – worth checking yourself – but it’s the best app for hiking safety!
This app allows you to create a trip plan and share it with your friends and family so that they know what your plans are and when to expect you to return. If they don’t hear from you by a certain time they can get in contact with emergency services and get someone out there looking for you.
Leaving a trip plan is essential when you’re hiking, whether in a group and especially solo, so make sure you use this!
16. Apple Watch Workout App
If you’re looking to track your fitness and happen to have an Apply watch, then the workout app that comes with it is the best hiking app for your Apple Watch.
I’m a Garmin user, but this works similarly and you can use the hiking tracking feature to log your time, distance, elevation, heart rate, and calories then sync with Strava and Apple health too.
- Available on: iOS
- Price: Free (if you have an Apple Watch)
17. Garmin Connect
If you’re a Garmin user rather than an Apple watch user, you can use your watch and Garmin Connect to draw up a hiking route that you can use for navigation out on the trail, track your hike, calories, elevation, and distance and then sync with Strava afterward.
If you like being able to see an actual map, you can use Garmin Explore to do so.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Hiking App
Have some more questions about the best apps for hiking? Here are some common questions I’ve received through insta!
Does Google Maps show hiking trails?
Some hiking trails are on Google Maps. If you’re in a super popular area, then chances are you’ll see some dotted hiking trails within Google Maps.
However, you should never rely on Google Maps when out hiking.
The hiking apps listed above are much more suited to purpose, especially in more remote places.
What is the best free hiking app?
Though you’ll get more with the paid version, the following apps have good free versions that are worthwhile.
The best free hiking apps are and the best hiking apps for iPhones are:
- AllTrails (Available on iOS & Android)
- Fat Map (Available on iOS & Android)
- Peak Finder (iOS & Android)
- Strava (iOS & Android)
Can I use my phone GPS for hiking?
Yes! You don’t have to have an expensive GPS watch or additional GPS device to access GPS when hiking.
Using your phone GPS for hiking is a great way to track your progress, navigate and stay on the trail.
Hiking apps, like AllTrails and Gaia GPS, work on your smartphone using its GPS to show your location in real-time. Just beware that using GPS can drain your phone battery very quickly.
If you also want to use your phone for taking pictures while out hiking, I highly recommend packing a battery pack and cable, or at the very least putting your phone on airplane mode to save some battery.
What is the best GPS app for hiking?
My pick of the best GPS app for hiking is AllTrails or Strava. They’re my go-to’s.
To use the map features offline on AllTrails, you’ll need to pay for a subscription and to plan routes on Strava you’ll need Strava Pro, though you can record on Strava without a subscription.