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June 20, 2017

Lace up and head for the hills with the best hiking apps

by John_A

Update: Added Cairn, Mountain Hub, Gaia, and Animated Knots.

We all get cabin fever now and then, and there’s nothing quite like a hike in the woods or a camping trip to shed the desk-job blues. It’s time to get outdoors and go on an adventure. Thankfully, we’ve been scouring the iOS and Android app stores in search of handy hiking aids, camping help, and adventure apps. If you’re heading out into the wild and leaving the comforts of the modern world behind, just make sure you install these apps first — some of which are features on our picks for the best iPhone and Android apps. Also, don’t forget your smartphone!

Yonder

If you’re a lover of the outdoors, you may want to discuss your adventures with other outdoor junkies. Yonder allows you to easily share your experiences when it comes to hiking, camping, and biking. It acts like a social media network for those that enjoy the great outdoors. Yonder isn’t just a social app, however. The other half of the app is aimed at exploration, and such being the case, it allows you to see experiences close to you. You can also view shared images, which is helpful when you’re searching for something to do.

Download it now for:

Android iOS

Cairn

Safety when you’re hiking is paramount, but it’s the last thing you want to worry about on the trail. Fortunately, Cairn helps you stay out of harm’s way, and get help should you need it. The app crowdsources cell coverage areas, so you know where you can expect service before you set foot on the trail. It also ties into your GPS, so friends or loved ones can keep tabs on your location when you’re out and about. You can set up the app to automatically notify specific contacts when you’re overdue, and even download a collection of free maps and trails with statistics for thousands of routes in the United States and United Kingdom. Cairn is iOS-only at the moment, but an Android version is on the way.

Download it now for:

iOS

Geocaching

Want more of a challenge when hiking? Geocaching is basically a modern day treasure hunt, one that requires players to hide small items and tokens before posting their GPS coordinates in the Geocaching app. The app features upwards of 2 million treasures, and utilizes your phone’s GPS to help you find them. It even provides recommendations and tips for beginners.

Download it now for:

Android iOS

Leafsnap

Maybe birds aren’t your thing — maybe you’re more into flora than fauna. If that’s the case, Leafsnap is the app for you. Leafsnap is a joint project between Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution. It uses visual recognition technology to help you identify what species of tree a leaf is from — just take a photo and the app will tell you what you’re looking at. The app doesn’t just identify leaves, though. It also offers hi-resolution photos of bark, fruit, and flowers, which can help in the identification process.

Download it now for:

iOS

AllTrails

With 50,000 trail guides in the U.S. and Canada alone, it’s not too difficult to work out why the AllTrails app has more than 1.5 million users. It’s an easy way to find trails near you, whether you want a gentle hike, a bone-rattling mountain bike track, or a great spot for some fly-fishing. You can create your own trails with GPS tracking, photos, and text, and save them for later or share them with others. If you are willing to splash out $30 per year for a membership, then you get the pro version, which takes advantage of a partnership with National Geographic Maps, and gives you the ability to print and edit maps. There are also events, such as the World Elevation Challenge, which lets participants to compete and track their progress in real-time as they scale Matterhorn, Kilimanjaro, Mount McKinley, and Everest.

Download it now for:

Android iOS

Mountain Hub

With Mountain Hub, you can look to your fellow hikers, skiers, hunters, climbers, and so on for updates on terrain and weather. The app pulls together resources from a wealth of contributors to explain trail data in a practical, concise way. Mountain Hub is free to download, but there’s a premium version that runs $3 a month or $25 a year that adds a variety of features. Pro users can mark hazards and points of interest on their way, for instance, and download topographic and aerial maps with a variety of layers for offline viewing.

Download it now for:

Android iOS

MapMyHike GPS Hiking

Looking for an app to track your hike or cycle? This one will provide you with detailed feedback on your route, your average pace, distance covered, calories burned, and a whole lot more. It’s geared towards workouts, but it has a number of features that make it ideal for anyone looking to record hiking routes and share them easily. You can also find popular local routes and compete with others to record the best times. If you sign up for the premium version at $6 per month, there’s a live tracking feature that lets you keep tabs on your hiking buddies in real time, heart rate analysis, audio coaching, and route recommendations.

Download it now for:

Android iOS

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