The 10 Best Apps for Hiking

hiking apps

The 10 Best Apps for Hiking

With more people discovering nature than ever before, it’s no wonder that they’re looking for the best apps for hiking. From the most popular national parks to the local trail in your backyard, there’s a service that can help you get out there. However, with so many apps available and different ways to hike, choosing the right one for you can prove challenging.

So, how do you know which app to try? We’ve checked out several of the most popular hiking services to bring you the best for any situation. Continue reading for everything you need to know about these apps.

#10: Cairn (3.9 Stars, 50 Reviews)

Before you hit the trail, one of the easiest ways to ensure your safety is to let someone know where you’re going and when you plan on returning. With Cairn, there’s no forgetting; simply open the app, drop in your details, and the information is automatically posted for your trusted people to see. This aspect makes Cairn one of the best apps for hiking safely.

Beyond the trail alerts, users can use features such as real-time tracking and crowdsourced cell service locations. You can download your hikes for offline use and even get updates on your ETA. And to ensure that the service is as accessible as possible, users can download Cairn for free.

Released in 2019, this hiking app is one of the fastest-growing in the industry. While it’s still figuring out the kinks, Outdoor Magazine named Cairn one of the top three sources for navigating the wilderness. The service has over 10,000 downloads on Google Play and holds a 3.9 out of 5-star rating with nearly 50 reviews. 

Compatibility: Android, iOS

Last Update: May 2022

Price: Free (in-app purchases)

#9: Seek by iNaturalist (4.4 Stars, 8,500 Reviews)

Want to enhance your next outdoor adventure? Seek by iNaturalist enables you to identify wildlife, plants, and fungi with a simple click of a button. As a collaboration between the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society, this app is all about bringing education to the outdoor community. That means no registration and no data collection.

Seek by iNaturalist uses a deep catalog of wildlife observations to match your surroundings. They come with a built-in index that offers more information about the subject. Users build a Tree of Life with their observations, which lets them collect badges for their efforts. The app even offers challenges as motivation for discovery.

Google Play named Seek by iNaturalist as an Editors’ Choice for its functionality. The app has over one million downloads and maintains a 4.4 out of 5-star rating with nearly 8.5 thousand reviews. Users enjoy the accuracy of identification, although some complain that it can take several minutes for everything to submit.

Compatibility: Android, iOS

Last Update: December 2022

Price: Free 

#8: PeakVisor (3.4 Stars, 400 Reviews)

If you’re an avid hiker, there’s a chance that you’ve been out on the trail wondering what that awesome feature in the distance is. PeakVisor uses 3D mapping technology to identify mountains with incredible precision. Discover beautiful destinations with names, contour lines, elevation, and even sun direction. 

One of our favorite aspects about PeakVisor is that it works offline. Simply download the map for the hike you’re planning and the app will include surrounding features. You can share your excitement with other hikers using live feeds, or make your friends jealous with photo captures of the names and altitudes of your views.

You’ll have to pay for the app to use its features, but we think it’s worth the one-time purchase. PeakVisor has over 10,000 downloads and holds a 3.4 out of 5-star rating with 400 reviews. People find the peak finder exciting to use when it comes to major features, but several suggest that it lacks smaller points.

Compatibility: Android, iOS

Last Update: December 2022

Price: $4.99 (one-time purchase)

#7: Google Maps (4.1 Stars, 16,600,000 Reviews)

Google Maps app icon on Apple iPhone screen
Live View in Google Maps shows you where to go with arrows and directions.


You don’t have to be an avid hiker to enjoy a hike, and you don’t need a dedicated hiking app to find a trailhead near you. If you’re not so concerned about tracking your distance or elevation gain, Google Maps has an excellent list of hikes that you can search for right from the app.

Listings include hike reviews, photos, and even directions. Not only can you discover cool hikes nearby, but you can route to them within the same app. Google Maps might not be a dedicated hiking app, but it’s still worth presenting as a helpful service.

Coming native on android devices, this app has over 10 billion downloads and maintains a 4.1 out of 5-star rating with 16.6 million reviews. It’s the go-to app for finding directions, but many users have issues with its functionality.

Compatibility: Android, iOS

Last Update: December 2022

Price: Free

#6: Google Earth (4.2 Stars, 3,000,000 Reviews)

apps for camping
Google Earth renders a 3D representation of Earth based on satellite imagery.


Google Earth is similar to Maps, but with a whole lot more interactivity when it comes to exploring landscapes. The app works as a navigation tool but has the unique feature of discovering areas in 3D.

This gives you an immersive idea of what you’re getting into while you’re out on the trail. You can measure the distance to specific locations, which helps you plan where you’ll end up along the way.

Coming from one of the most prominent software developers on the planet, it’s no surprise that Googe Earth is incredibly popular. This app has over 100 million downloads and features a 4.2 out of 5-star rating with about 3 million reviews.

With its ability to fly into natural landscapes, users love its exploratory and educational applications. However, the concept is continually in development, so expect some technical issues from time to time.

Compatibility: Android, iOS

Last Update: November 2022

Price: Free

#5: National Park Service App (3.6 Stars, 650 Reviews)

National Park enthusiasts must look into the agency’s newest mobile app. The NPS app includes information on outdoor activities for over 420 parks, monuments, and recreation areas in the system. Whether you’re looking for maps, tours, or travel information, you can find it here.

The National Park Service App allows users to download park maps offline for later use. This helps hikers locate trailheads, plan out features, and check for road closures. Did you forget to purchase a permit for a particularly difficult trek? You can buy it last minute right from your phone. And when you’re finished, you can share your experiences via a virtual postcard with your friends and family.

Developed by the National Park Service, this is one of the best apps for hikers looking to explore the country’s greatest natural wonders. The app has over 500,000 downloads on Google Play and holds a 3.6 out of 5-star rating with 650 reviews. Hikers find the live travel updates particularly useful, but others find some information lacking as the government agency continues development.

Compatibility: Android, iOS

Last Update: October 2022

Price: Free

#4: Hiking Project (4.0 Stars, 1,500 Reviews)

There are hundreds of hiking apps that help you track your trails, but what makes the Hiking Project stand out is its deep sense of community. The application is completely crowdsourced, which means the developers can focus on providing quality service without costs or advertisements. Record your miles along with other hikers to help build a database of premier hikes.

While this sounds great on paper, it’s hard to track miles in the wilderness when you lose service. Fortunately, the Hiking Project works offline. Offering free GPS, this app allows you to see exactly where you are at all times. To provide trail marking and offline maps is a testament to a service that prioritizes its community.

While still developing, people tend to enjoy the Hiking Project. The app has over 100,000 downloads and holds a 4 out of 5-star rating with 1,500 reviews. Users appreciate the offline capability, but some wish it offered more. For a free service, however, beggars can’t be choosers.

Compatibility: Android, iOS

Last Update: March 2022

Price: Free

#3: Gaia GPS (4.4 Stars, 12,500 Reviews)

apps for camping
Gaia GPS is a great guide for finding trails around the world.

©Postmodern Studio/Shutterstock.com

If you’re an adventurer that prefers to get off the beaten path, Gaia GPS is one of the best apps for hiking your own route. The mapping app allows you to download professional layers in addition to its highly-detailed, native topography.

Using updated land boundaries, you’ll have no problem finding camp spots on Bureau of Land Management areas, US Forest Service land, or other public locations. What separates Gaia GPS from the rest of the pack is its route-creation feature. Users can measure distance and elevation using point-to-point mapping.

For a more accurate reference, the app also includes a snap-to-trail mode, allowing you to discover the details of an area you’re interested in exploring. All of these features are free to use, and Premium users can even track their downloaded maps offline.

Anyone that enjoys camping, hiking, or offroading will love using Gaia GPS. The app has over one million downloads and maintains a 4.4 out of 5-star rating with 12,500 reviews. Users enjoy the accuracy of the tracking feature and many suggest upgrading to the premium version for the additional offline capability.

Compatibility: Android, iOS

Last Update: December 2022

Price: Free (membership starting at $27.99/year)

#2: Avenza (4.6 Stars, 72,000 Reviews)

best hiking apps
Avenza allows you to download maps for offline use.

©Postmodern Studio/Shutterstock.com

Are you the type of person that likes to study the geography of a location before hiking it? Avenza has one of the largest databases of professionally curated maps covering nearly every point of interest.

Featuring maps from organizations like National Geographic and the National Park Service, you’ll have all the information you need right in one place, regardless of whether you’re hitting the trail or biking through the city.

Avenza allows users to track their movements offline using real-time GPS. The maps allow for enhancements such as placemarks, notes, and photos. Users can also build their own maps to track lesser-known areas. And with the pro version, the features extend to unlimited imports of commercial data, unlimited geofences, and priority technical support.

As one of the leading sources for offline mapping and tracking, Avenza is one of the best apps for hiking without service. It has over one million downloads and holds a 4.6 out of 5-star rating with over 72,000 reviews. People unanimously enjoy the GPS accuracy and the immense library of maps. And those with issues find customer service helpful.

Compatibility: Android, iOS

Last Update: November 2022

Price: Free (in-app purchases, memberships starting at $29.99/year)

#1: AllTrails (4.8 Stars, 143,000 Reviews)

best hiking apps
AllTrails allows users to access a database of trail maps.

©Postmodern Studio/Shutterstock.com

If you’ve done any considerable amount of hiking, it’s likely you’ve heard of or even stumbled upon AllTrails for discovering trails. As one of the best apps for hiking overall, users have access to over 350,000 trails reviewed by fellow hikers. Most people come for the hikes, but many also come for the community; the app has 40 million registered hikers that have logged over 600 million miles.

AllTrails goes the extra distance to provide all the information you need about your upcoming hike. You can review previous comments from other hikers about trail conditions, driving directions, and notable features.

The app will even track your metrics, including distance, time, and elevation gain. With AllTrails+ you get access to a plethora of additional features, including offline maps, live route planners, wrong-turn alerts, and more.

The community speaks to the quality of AllTrails; this hiking app has over 10 million downloads on Google Play and boasts a 4.8 out of 5-star rating with 143,000 reviews. People love the immense library of trails, and many more find benefits in the community. As such, AllTrails is the Editors’ Choice for mobile devices.

Compatibility: Android, iOS

Last Update: December 2022

Price: Free (AllTrails+ starting at $35.99/year)

What to Know Before Downloading a Hiking App

One aspect worth considering before you download one of the best apps for hiking is your intentions before hitting the trail. If you’re simply trying to find more time outside, an app like Google Maps might cover all your needs. However, if you’re looking for the next big challenge, you might find more accurate trail descriptions on apps like the Hiking Project or AllTrails.

Another key point you should keep in mind is the functionality within each app. While most services offer free versions, they might lock some essential features into a membership.

At the end of the day, your hike is what you make of it, and an app only provides a different experience. If you’re looking for community, a hiking membership is more than worth the cost. However, it’s not required to find good hikes.

Summary of the 10 Best Apps for Hiking

1. AllTrails4.8143,000
2. Avenza4.672,000
3. Gaia GPS4.412,500
4. Hiking Project4.01,500
5. National Park Service App3.6650
6. Google Earth4.23,000,000
7. Google Maps4.116,600,000
8. PeakVisor3.4400
9. Seek by iNaturalist4.48,500
10. Cairn3.950

Best Apps for Hiking: Further Reading

When you use the best apps for hiking, you’re sure to improve your experience on the trail. Whether it’s offline GPS tracking or relating to other enthusiasts over your favorite trails, there’s a quality service available. For the latest outdoor gear to further enhance your time outside, check out the articles below.

The 10 Best Apps for Hiking FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is the best free hiking app?

AllTrails provides quality hiking services without paying for a subscription. However, many of its best features require the AllTrails+ membership. For a hiking app that has no fees at all, we also recommend checking out Hiking Project.

Is there a better app than AllTrails?

Avenza is a great hiking app that offers an immense map library and offline GPS tracking. You can use these services without a subscription, which makes it preferable over AllTrails in some cases.

Which is better, Gaia GPS or AllTrails?

With access to one of the largest libraries of trails and supported by a massive community of hikers, AllTrails is the better hiking app in most cases. However, for those looking for a backcountry excursion, Gaia GPS is preferable.

Is there a free app for identifying mountains?

At the moment, there are no free apps for accurate mountain identification. If you’re looking for a great app to help with identification that only asks for a one-time payment, PeakVisor is worth the purchase.

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