12 Best Hiking Apps You Must Have in 2023

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We take our phones almost everywhere we go in the digital age, even when you’re out hiking. So whether it’s to track your steps or take photos of the gorgeous scenes you come across (or even to contact a loved one in case of an emergency), chances are, your phone is in your pocket at all times.

True, there are disadvantages to having your phone with you at all times. You might be too busy taking photos to notice the true beauty of nature. Or you may get stuck scrolling for hours on what was supposed to be a short break. That said, you can always use technology to benefit you personally, and one way you can do that is through hiking apps!

Best Hiking Apps You Must Have

Why Do You Need Hiking Apps?

Now you may be wondering why you even need a hiking app in the first place. You have your route marked out on your map, and you have a backpack of essentials. What more could you need? Well, here are some of the reasons why you need to have a hiking app on your phone.

You Can Get Inspiration

If you’re a seasoned hiker, you may struggle to find new routes on your regular hikes. Taking the same routes over and over can become boring after a while, and you’re probably looking for a new challenge. Here is where hiking apps come in.

No matter what area you are in, hiking apps can help you find trails across the globe, so you can discover new and exciting tracks without spending hours on the Internet!

They Help With Navigation

Say you printed out a map for your hike and marked your route. Now you’re in the middle of your trail, and you can’t find a path forward or a way out – what now? That’s exactly what hiking apps were made for!

They can help you find your way and stay on the correct, updated course. This might be especially necessary if you’re at a point where you can’t get cellphone service. This is not to say that you should rely on hiking apps completely, but they’re always a good backup plan for your hikes.

You Can Track Your Performance

Avid hikers are undoubtedly obsessed with tracking their progress and performance. You might want to count how many miles you’ve hiked since your last trip. In that case, hiking apps will be great for you. Not only can you track your performance, but you can share that progress with your hiking buddies too!

11 of the Best Apps for Hiking

At this point, you’re probably convinced about downloading some hiking apps on your phone. However, as with all apps, there are thousands of options for hiking apps you can choose from. It could leave you wondering which apps are even reliable. Wonder no more because here’s a guide to the best hiking apps you can get for free in 2023!

1. AllTrails 

  • Available on: iOS & Android
  • Pros: user-friendly, reliable reviews
  • Cons: subscription needed for offline maps

Without a doubt, one of the best hiking apps you can find is AllTrails – both for amateur hikers and veteran professionals. AllTrails is well-loved and well-known throughout the hiking community, and it deserves its spot on this list. The 20 million users should be enough proof of that. You can search hikes according to different categories on all trails – difficulty, route, length, rating, and much more! If you’re a beginner hiker, you can filter out trails that will suit you perfectly, so you’ll have the best hike possible.

When you have found a hike that suits your preferences, the app shows you various details. Besides the descriptions and basic specs, AllTrails also provides additional tips you can use to your advantage and even reviews about the trail. Whatever you can’t get from the app’s interface, you will find it from the user reviews. In addition, it allows you to track your own real-time progress and even your friends’ if you’re planning to meet up at a certain spot.

If you have any specific preferences, such as dog-friendly or even wheelchair-friendly trails, then AllTrails has got your back! You can filter out the hikes exactly according to those requirements.


2. Spyglass

  • Available on: iOS & Android
  • Pros: 3D navigation
  • Cons: some special features require a subscription

At the core of Spyglass is the idea of a compass, but the app takes it several steps further. Besides acting as a basic compass, Spyglass offers you several advanced technological features you might be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. For one thing, you get to have a 3D view of the trails you want to hike, giving you a pretty accurate estimation of what you can expect to encounter on your hike.

Spyglass is perfect for people who love to explore. Spyglass makes use of augmented reality to offer you tons of features you might not even have considered for a hiking app. Besides tracking your own movements, Spyglass also provides features for tracking the sun, moon, and stars. If you’re bored of the traditional way of navigating, you can set yourself up for a challenge to navigate through the star movements, which are available in real-time on the app!

The special features can help you learn about your speed, marine navigation, and much more. It can even let you use your phone like a pair of binoculars – what more could an explorer want?

Gaia GPS 

3. Gaia GPS 

  • Available on: iOS & Android
  • Pros: detailed real-time information
  • Cons: can’t be used offline without a subscription

Gaia GPS is undeniably at the forefront of hiking apps when it comes to live tracking. Sure, you might get the regular features such as distance and route tracking on most hiking apps, but Gaia GPS is miles ahead of that! This app gives you more detail than any other app you might find: speed graphs, elevation, highest altitude, you name it.

If you’ve already saved the track you want to trek on your GPS, then worry not – you can always transfer them to your phone and open them within the app, so you have all your information in one place. In the free version of the app, you can easily find the best topographic maps, along with satellite and road maps – although you’ll be missing out on a few special features, these basic ones are more than enough to guarantee a good hike!

The Hiking Project 

5. The Hiking Project 

  • Available on: iOS & Android
  • Pros: community sourced information
  • Cons: user interface may cause some issues

The only thing better than built-in content in an app is a community-based app. The Hiking Project is one such application – all the content in the app is sourced from the community so that you can be sure of its reliability. In addition, any information about the trails comes directly from users who have hiked that route before, so you can get details you might not find anywhere else on the Internet.

The Hiking Project is essentially a guidebook for hiking – the more users use it, the more detailed the guides will be. The app is constantly updated with new information from hikers so that you can get the latest information about each trail. Besides the general details about the route, the distance, and terrain, you can find intricate details such as parking spaces or how much water you might need on the trail.

The community-based sourcing also allows you to find your little group of hikers. You find like-minded people who love hiking – who knows? You might end up meeting people that hike near you so you can do group hikes!

6. Cairn

  • Available on: iOS & Android
  • Pros: real-time location sharing
  • Cons: automatic status updates only through subscription

Hiking is a great outdoor activity, but it can be pretty dangerous as well. If you’re going on your first hike on your own, you might worry a lot about your safety (and with good reason). In that case, the best app for you is Cairn. One of the most basic aspects that sets it apart from other hiking apps is that Cairn allows you to use the app to share both your location and progress in real-time with anyone you might choose to.

Because your friends and family will be aware of your whereabouts, you can hike in peace, knowing that if you run across any problems, somebody will be able to help you out. But wait, that’s not all!

Even as you’re sharing your location, the app will inform your friends and family ahead of time when you might experience poor cellphone connections, so they don’t become worried when they can’t locate you. On top of that, if you take longer than initially expected for your hike due to any reason, the app informs your emergency contacts just in case.


7. PeakVisor 

  • Available on: iOS & Android
  • Pros: peak identification
  • Cons: offline maps through subscriptions

This one is for the people who love hiking in the mountains. If you’re one of the people who prefer to hike in mountainous areas rather than smooth trails, then this is the app for you. One of the distinguishing features of this app is identifying mountains. All you need to do is open your app and point the camera at a mountain, and it’ll tell you precisely what peak it is through GPS location and image recognition.

You can make your own contribution to the app and the community by uploading the pictures you’ve taken as well. The app has over a million peak identifications, and you can add your own experiences to that. Besides peak identification, the PeakVisor app also offers a great compass you can use to navigate on your hikes.

8. Google Maps 

  • Available on iOS & Android
  • Pros: completely free
  • Cons: not much detail about hikes

You can’t make a list of the best hiking apps without mentioning Google Maps at least once! True, it’s mostly an app for navigation, but in that area, it is second to almost none. Considering that the app is usually built-in, it would not be surprising if you’re already a staunch user. However, that’s not all there is to Google Maps.

The best feature Google Maps has to offer is the ability to download offline maps. Now, with most apps, you need the premium version to do so, but not with Google Maps. You can download your map ahead of time, so you know exactly where to go, even in the absence of cell service. All you need to do is open the app, tap Offline Maps in the menu, and select your custom map. This will highlight the area, so you can download it to know your exact routes.

The only problem you might encounter is that if you’re looking for a hiking app with unique features, then Google Maps is not for you. Instead, it essentially offers the basic information, which is perfect for beginners or casual hikers.

Guthook Guides 

9. Guthook Guides 

  • Available on: iOS & Android
  • Pros: developed by hikers
  • Cons: trails must be bought individually

Guthook Guides is a beloved app in the hiking community, as it should be. Hikers developed the app, so you know the information you get is entirely reliable and relevant. The people who developed it were also aware of how vital offline apps are for every hiker, and because of that, Guthook Guides came into existence. Since then, it has only seen a good reputation.

Guthook Guides is great for both hiking and backpacking. Many hiking apps don’t cater to anyone but hikers, so if you’re looking for an app to help you backpack across thousands of miles, then this is the app for you.

Not only will you find detailed maps and routes, but it’ll also inform you of water sources, parking spaces, and campsites you might otherwise not be able to find. Plus, you can leave updates for your emergency contacts through the social features, which will help them track you in case of any issues.

The only problem is that although the app is free, you may need to buy the trail guides individually, and the prices generally vary from trail to trail.

10. Green Tracks 

  • Available on: Android
  • Pros: the largest number of free offline maps
  • Cons: not available for iOS

Green Tracks is a hiking app that stands out primarily due to its visually unpleasing user interface. That alone can be enough to put any person off from using it. However, in this case, you might need to look past the design to focus on its functionality.

Green Tracks is one of the only apps that offers free offline topographic maps, and that is reason enough to put it on the list. Most apps require subscriptions for free maps, but Green Tracks is not one of those apps. One of the things hikers struggle the most with is their cell phone connections, but with the offline maps from Green Tracks, you won’t need to worry about that.

Although the app looks difficult to use, the reality is far from it – it’s effortless to use and has tons of free information. Besides the maps being completely free, the app offers a grand total of eleven different types of online maps.

Komoot Hiking App

11. Komoot Hiking App

  • Available for: iOS & Android
  • Pros: provides optimal routes for any place
  • Cons: problems with zooming

Unlike the previous option of Green Tracks, Komoot is far ahead in the graphic design category. The app is visually pleasing and extremely easy to use so that you won’t get a headache from the old design! The unique feature of this app is that it creates the optimal routes to take you anywhere you need to go. Then, all you need to do is to point to a place on the map, and it begins its calculations and navigation!

In addition, you can easily import any GPS tracks onto your smartphone through the Komoot website. The only problem you might encounter is that there might be some issues with zooming in on the maps, so you can’t get an accurate representation of what you can expect out of the trail.

12. Seek by iNaturalist 

  • Available on: iOS & Android

This is another app for the explorers and nature lovers out there! Seek by iNaturalist offers you a world of information about any plants you might encounter on your hike. The app was developed by the California Academy of Sciences and National Geographic so that you can be sure of its reliability.

To use the identification feature, you only need to open the app and take a photo. Much like PeakVisor, Seek uses image recognition and GPS location to narrow down the possible plant species you might have noticed. You can make a fun game to earn the different badges and awards and even contribute your discoveries to the community! That information can be used in scientific research as well, so you’ll be playing your part in those discoveries!

That is it for today’s article, thank you very much for your time. If you know more great hiking apps, please share them with the community in the comment!