This Free App Will Amp Up Your Hiking Game
There’s a really cool trail right outside New York City that gets you way outside the Manhattan hustle. It has big hills, dense forests, rustling streams and sweeping views without a skyscraper in sight. But there’s only one problem. The physical trail markers don’t match the trail map that comes up when you do a quick Google search. One minute, you think you’re on the blue trail because you see a blue trail marker and the next, your geolocation on your built-in phone map says you’re all the way over on the yellow trail. There’s no way of knowing whether it’s your lack of phone service (frequently spotty in the woods) or terrible trail upkeep. It’s a great way to get seriously lost — and not in the fun “I’m so in the wild!” way.
Enter AllTrails, the hiking app you need for all your escapes from urban life. It’s a giant collection of trails (hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, really any kind of trail you can imagine) with directions to the trailhead and a map you can download before heading out into nature to make sure you never get lost. And if you maintain cell service on your hike, you can even use a live feed map feature to pinpoint exactly where you are and see where you need to go. Even better, AllTrails is free to use.
There are more than 50,000 trails in the app, ranging from national park treks to neighborhood favorite paths. You can save the trails that pique your interest to a “bucket list” and check them off as you get the chance to explore each one.
When searching for your next trail adventure, you can filter results to suit your exact hiking needs. For instance, if you want to bring your pup along for the journey, you can search AllTrails for a trek that is dog-friendly.
All the trails are rated and reviewed by your fellow nature lovers, so you can get their real-deal thoughts on which hikes are best, easiest, hardest, most maintained and prettiest. You can even follow hikers you admire on the social networking arm of the app, where you can see other outdoorspeople’s trail bucket lists.
The app also has a paid version, AllTrails Pro, that includes a way to download offline maps and still get a constant GPS location even if you have absolutely no phone service. You can also add layers to the downloaded maps, like terrain, real-time weather updates and air quality checks. These extra features cost about $30 a year (or about $100 for a lifetime membership). If you’re a hardcore backpacker, that membership could give you interesting insights into the topography of your planned hikes, but for the casual day hiker, the free version will likely suit your needs just fine.