Travel Apps

8 Best & FREE Hiking Apps You Should Download in 2023 + Honorable Mentions!

Travelers! Read the latest from FlightDeck powered by @pilotplans
8 Best & FREE Hiking Apps You Should Download in 2023 + Honorable Mentions!
I looked for the best reliable hiking app to download for my next hiking trip. See my list of the 8 best hiking apps hikers like you will love, including why I think you’ll love them!

Table of Contents

Show more
Show less

I'm a huge believer in disconnecting every once in a while to enjoy life!

Hiking is a great way to exercise, release stress, and enjoy the outdoors all while disconnecting from the digital world. Spending time outside is one of the best things you can do for your mind and body, and there’s no better way to get out in nature than hiking new trails.

But at the same time, the huge variety of tools that helps elevate my experience hiking or trailing outdoors is fantastic.

Helpful tools within trail maps, navigation apps, and tracking apps, contain features such as camera-based rangefinder, GPS location navigator, and detailed hiking map helps you hike and participate in outdoor activities like a pro.

These hiking apps are excellent tools that you can use on your smartphones to make your hike as smooth and enjoyable as it can be.

Hiking tools all-in-one in the top hiking apps.
Photo by Andrew Ly on Unsplash

Besides, you no longer need to pack a backpack full of tools to help you with longer hikes. All I need now is my smartphone with a few hiking apps downloaded.

But with the vast amount of hiking and trail apps available on the market, how do you know which is the best one to download?

From finding new trails to learning about must-see sights at a location, the best hiking apps can definitely help make your experiences more memorable.

In this post, we’ll cover the best hiking apps for you to use for the ultimate adventure! And don’t worry, most of the items here are free hiking apps (or at least they have a free version).

Let’s dive in!

What are the best apps for hiking?

So what is the best app for hikers?

From sharing custom trails with friends to navigation features to help you find your way on a mountain, the answer depends on your needs.

I've broken down six different, but totally versatile, types of hiking apps and explained the pros and cons of each app.

These apps are great tools to complement a travel planner app for when you need help finding the perfect hike as a tourist or for organizing local trips in your own neck of the woods!

Of course, if you’re new to the hiking world and looking for some advice, be sure to study the top hiking tips so you can feel at ease and prepared when planning your next adventure!

Here is what I'm saying are the 8 best & free hiking apps you won’t regret downloading, each with their specialties!

  1. 🎯 Best overall free hiking app: AllTrails
  2. 🌎 Best hiking GPS app: Gaia GPS
  3. 🗺 Best hiking guide app: FarOut (aka Guthook by Atlas Guides)
  4. 🥾 Best trekking app: PeakVisor
  5. 🕹 Best hiking AR-navigation app: Spyglass
  6. ⛰ Best hiking trails app to discover new trails: Hiking Project
  7. ⛑ Best hiking safety app: Cairn
  8. 💫 Best "You probably already have it" hiking app: Google Maps

I included some honorable mentions to consider downloading to find the perfect hiking app!

Any of these options will be better than nothing at all, but which one should you choose? Follow me as we explore!

Top 8 hiking apps to download in 2023!

8. Google Maps (iOS and Android: Free)

I debated if I even needed to include the app that certainly needs no introduction. Google Maps is a general purpose navigation and map tool app that helps you locate restaurants, gas stations, and your friends homes. For hikers, it can also help you discover hiking trails.

Google maps app helps travelers and hikers plan their outdoor excursions ahead with their advanced precise location navigation feature, along with their ability to download maps or regions for offline access.

Google maps app preview.
The familiar app interface with new pathfinder feature (Image Courtesy: Google Maps)

Follow these simple steps to turn Google Maps into your hiking companion:

1. Click on your profile picture on the top right corner of the app

2. Click on the "Offline maps" feature.

3. Click "Select your own map", and choose the region you'd like to download for offline access.

4. Wait for the download!

Once it's done, you'll be able to access it on the app as usual. Keep in mind that the larger your region selected is, the bigger the file size it'll be on your phone's storage! I suggest only downloading regions for the time that you need them if you are worried about storage capacity.

Google maps is great for a general purpose app if you absolutely don’t want to pay or download another app. However, the app comes with many limitations compared to other hiking apps. This includes access to user-generated trails or less popular trails, limited rangefinder capabilities, no peak identification, and more.

Google Maps is available on both the iOS App Store and Android Google Play Store.

🔥 Why I Love Google Maps!

Google does a great job at having so many easy to use apps, and Google Maps is no different. The ability to plan things before and after your hiking adventure, such as restaurant suggestions and driving directions make it very valuable for a complete weekend of hiking.

Having a suite of powerful tools without having to pay a dime makes this non-hiking exclusive app worth the download.

7. Cairn (iOS and Android: Free / $26.99 Annually)

Cairn is a hiking and walking route app that can help you stay safe during your adventures.

I use the app to share my real-time progress and location with family or friends for their peace of mind and mine, too!

Cairn helps me plan routes by offering helpful estimates of how long I'll take to complete a particular trail based on personalized data and points out areas with weak cell reception.

If it takes longer than expected for your hike, the app also notifies your emergency contacts to make them aware.

The premium version of the app lets you use its features offline and automatically sends live updates to your contacts.

Cairn is available on both the iOS App Store and Android Google Play Store.

Cairn hiking app preview features.
Cairn lets you share trip progress & find high coverage areas and navigate to safety! (Image Courtesy: Cairn)

🔥 Why I Love the Cairn Hiking App!

I'm a huge fan of hiking because of how super fun it is, but I have to acknowledge it can also be dangerous. If I am exploring unknown paths or unfamiliar areas, Cairn helps me get home safely and get back to where I need to be.

6. Hiking Project (IOS and Android, Free)

Hiking Project is the best free hiking app that uses community-sourced content to helps me pick and choose the perfect trail.

Users submit information like route descriptions, images, and reviews that are then vetted by an in-house team before they are added to the app.

The hiking app basically functions as a living guidebook! I always find it constantly updated with new information and more reviews.

Plus, Hiking Project works offline, so I can use it literally anywhere my explorations may take me.

You can learn more about the Hiking Project app with our Hiking Project review that grades the quality of the app and goes into detail about the unique features so you can get the best out of it!

Hiking Project is available on both the iOS and Android stores.

The Hiking Project Mobile Interface
Use Hiking Project app to learn about featured hikes in your area and read reviews. (Image Courtesy: Hiking Project)

🔥 Why I Love the Hiking Project Hiking App!

All info on Hiking Project is contributed by real hikers who have actually "tested" the trails they write about. Hence, the app includes useful tips that aren't on just any website. In fact, I really enjoyed joining the community myself and contributing.

The Hiking Project is the best hiking app to learn specific things that can make or break or hike. Like how much water to bring or the best place to park your car to start off a particular hike right.

Another amazing bonus is that the app is free, and it doesn't have any built-in annoying pop-up advertisements, which makes for a great user experience.

5.Spyglass (iOS and Android: $3.99)

Spyglass is a secretly awesome hiking rangefinder app for outdoor navigation. While it’s not a free hiking app, it’s a one-time fee of $5.99 is more than palatable to me and definitely worth it.

With modern features like augmented-reality navigation, the app operates in 3D, showing me real-time object locations, and overlays directions over images and maps. I was able to use its rangefinder feature to measure the distance of milestones on the trial. It’s definitely one of the best hiking apps that utilize AR navigation to help with elevation tracking.

With Spyglass I have the power to turn my phone into a GPS receiver, altimeter, speedometer, star finder, coordinate converter, a pair of binoculars, and more. So cool.

SpyGlass is available on both the iOS and Android stores.

Screenshots of SpyGlass mobile interface
Just a few screenshots of all the information Spyglass offers you. (Image Courtesy: Spyglass)

🔥 Why I Love the Spyglass Hiking App!

Spyglass’s gazillion features. I believe it will turn you into a proficient navigator and explorer in no time!

What’s more, the advanced object-location data features really elevate wildlife-spotting or star-gazing experiences.

4. PeakVisor (iOS and Android: Free / 29.99$ Annually)

Attention budding mountaineers and mountain trekkers—this app is for you! I personally think this is a underrated app that's both cool and useful!

PeakVisor is a 3D maps and peaks Identification app that contains information about more than 1 million peaks all over the world and helps you identify the ones you find during your trips. It's definitely one of the best, if not the best, hiking + trekking visualization and identification apps out there!

From Mount Everest to that small hill you can see in the distance, PeakVisor uses my phone's location and camera to label the peaks I am looking at. The days of using my compass and map to triangulate different peaks is long gone!

PeakVisor is available for free and with a pro premium subscription. While the free version covers most of the functionalities, in my opinion the advantage of the pro version is the ability to have these features available offline with no cell service.

PeakVisor is available in both iOS and Android stores.

PeakVisor App Preview AppStore
Identify and mark peaks with GPX Tracker Integrated. (Image Courtesy of PeakVisor)

🔥 Why I Love the PeakVisor hiking App!

I see hiking being as much about discovery and exploration as it is about mental health. Having all the information to remember these moments is exactly what PeakVisor does for you!

With the integrated features like labeling and recording past peaks, you'll be able to revisit all of the mountain peaks you've conquered over the years and rightfully flex to all of your friends and family!

I cannot get enough of being able to actually identify the different hills and peaks outdoors as opposed to just calling it "that peak"!

Alternative to PeakVisor: PeakFinder

I also found a handy alternative to PeakVisor, the similarly named Peak Finder.

With almost all of the functionalities similar to PeakVisor, Peak Finder comes at a cheaper one-time fee of $4.99 USD. In addition, PeakFinder also has some amazing functionalities like dark mode and birds eye view, which allows you to view peaks vertically! The database is a bit smaller, but I didn't run into any issues.

With PeakFinder, you'll also be able to label mountains and places of interest you'd like and see solar and lunar orbits with rise and set times.

PeakFinder is available on both the iOS and Android stores.

Peakfinder mobile hiking app preview.
Use the app’s editor mode to capture locations and share them with friends. (Image Courtesy: PeakFinder)

3. FarOut Guides App (Formerly GutHook Guides by Atlas Guides, iOS and Android: Free)

FarOut Guides app, or as I originally knew it as Guthook Guide app, is a hiker favorites when it comes to long-distance hiking, backpacking, and survival camping.

FarOut Guides was built by former thru-hikers who found a need for a offline access map and guide that can help them traverse various terrains to accomplish a long distance trail.

While FarOut Guides is free, I needed to buy each trail's information and guides individually. Famous trails include, but not limited to, the Pacific Crest Trail, Appalacian Trail, Continental Divide Trail, or the ultimate America's Triple Crown trails.

Key features include an offline map and GPS location access, elevation profile views, detailed waypoint, and town guides such as campsites, water sources, trailheads, parking, and more. You're also able to create your own custom route and waypoints for your trip, and read other hikers' real-time comments!

FarOut Guides by Atlas guides Guthook app preview.
Screenshots of Farout Guides on the app (Image Courtesy: FarOut)

The FarOut app offers some demo trails if you're hesitant about paying for the app. FarOut is available on iOS, Android, as well as on web browsers!

🔥 Why I Love FarOut / GutHook!

As I mentioned earlier, I love an app that focuses on winning the hearts of the community it's serving!

Guthook is an app that delivers what it can provide. Detailed guides, including all of the information you'll possibly need in one app, with offline access, with customization options available.

What's not to love? It's definitely a worthy app to buy trails from and use during thru-hikes!

2. Gaia GPS (iOS and Android: Free / $19.99 or $47.88/year with Outside+)

Gaia, or Gaia GPS, is another super popular hiking app within the hiking community. With Gaia, I was able to find and explore new trails, see and save hiking/trekking statistics, and record my routes.

One of the most prominent features of Gaia is its comprehensive GPS feature, combining different types of maps like topographic and satellite maps for me to route and record my trails. I personally think this is a powerful tool for any outdoor adventures you might want to partake in!

With the paid version of Gaia GPS, you'll get access to offline maps and Gaia's entire map catalog. Recently, Gaia GPS partnered with Outside+ for their new annual premium version. (Which I didn't purchase.) Gaia GPS's annual version includes additional maps for skiing, mountain biking, and backpacking, which is great for frequent hikers, backpackers, and backcountry trekkers.

Make sure to read the full review of Gaia GPS if you'd like to learn more about the hiking app or purchase their memberships!

Access Gaia GPS on all platforms! (Image Courtesy: Gaia GPS)

🔥 Why I love Gaia GPS!

While for some, no smartphone app can replace a GPS device or paper map-based navigation, Gaia GPS is definitely the closest I've seen that replicates precise navigation. 

What Ilove about Gaia GPS is the versatility and quality of its free version! From weather forecasting to routing and planning out trail routes, you can do more than just hike with Gaia GPS.

Gaia GPS is available on both iOS and Android.

Alternative: If you're looking for GPS apps for other outdoor sports like mountain biking or backpacking, give Komoot a try! It's an alternative map routing platform that helps you plan action-specific routes in advance.

1. AllTrails (iOS and Android: Free / $29.99 annually)

AllTrails is one of the all-around best hiking apps for novices and experts alike. All it takes is a few taps on your phone to find curated hiking, biking, and running trails for various lengths and difficulty levels.

The app let me create custom trail maps, follow my friends’ activities and read trail reviews from its user community. AllTrails hiking app is great because of the community-created database of useful information on different trails, as well as new off-the-beaten-path trails! Yes, please!

For more advanced hikers, AllTrails also provide information such as elevation gain and trailhead location, and time. AllTrails app also tracks and records the hikes you've done, including the exact route you took, the elevation gain you've achieved, and how long it took for you to complete the trail.

While the app’s premium paid version has additional features like offline off-route/3D navigation, and real-time overlays, the free version offers more than enough for most casual explorers.

By the way... I was able to sign up for the AllTrails Pro Membership, by using code "Pilotplans25" for 25% off AllTrails Pro. Both this deal is still for a limited time only! Make sure to redeem your discount on the website, as it won't work on your app.

For more in-depth information, check out our AllTrails app review to see if AllTrails will be a good fit for your next hiking excursion!

AllTrails app preview on an iPhone
A preview of how the AllTrails app appears on your phone. (Image Courtesy: AllTrails)

🔥Why I Love the AllTrails Hiking App!

The community here at Pilot is connected through our goal is to help people live happier lives through shared experiences. AllTrails helps facilitate this really well.

The app makes it easy for you to share custom maps, routes, and experiences with family and friends. Real people contribute the reviews and pictures of many locations, making the app's information more honest and reliable.

A huge benefit for Apple Watch users like myself is the AllTrails apple watch app, which allows me to navigate using my Apple Watches to track and record my hikes and trails.

AllTrails is available on both iOS and Android.

Honorable Mentions: Pokémon GO (iOS and Android, Free)

I believe hiking is fun all on it's own, but when I was looking for a way to spice up my daily walks or treks near the city, I took a "go" with this app. I played the super popular augmented reality game while hiking: Pokémon GO.

Created by Niantic, Pokemon GO allows you to catch different pokemon, battle other players, and explore different Pokéstops while on your walks or hikes.

If you're not familiar with what Pokémons are, don't worry! The app and community are super welcoming and fast to learn, allowing you to be hooked to the game immediately! And if you catch a shiny, let me know!

Catch Pokemons with Pokemon GO AR! (Image Courtesy of Pokemon GO)

Pokémon GO is available on both iOS and Android.

Honorable Mentions: Seek by iNaturalist / iNaturalist (iOS and Android, Free)

I always find myself looking at a flower, insect, or bird and asking myself, "What's the name of that species?"

By combining curiosity with discovery, Seek by iNaturalist allows you to identify faunas and floras on your hike based on images you take and your geographic locations by providing you a list of possible species based on the picture and location provided. Now I can contribute to environmental and conservation research on my hikes!

What's even better is that you'll be able to earn badges and achievements with the different species you discover!

Seek iNaturalist app preview.
Identify Fauna and Flora with Seek by iNatruralist! (Image Courtesy: iNaturalist)

Download the iNaturalist app and participate in citizen sciences by reporting the species you see on your hikes! Your efforts will help drive conservation and environmental science research and help protect endangered or threatened species!

Seek by iNaturalist is available on iOS and Android. iNaturalist app is also available on iOS and Android.

Honorable Mentions: National Park Service (NPS) App (iOS and Android, Free)

What better place to receive information about parks than the National Park Services themselves?

The National Park Service App, developed by U.S. National Park Services government agency, contains all of the vital information you'll need to know on all 423 national park units, which include 63 national parks around the United States.

This up-to-date information provided by official government sources will help you navigate the tour trails, places to stay and camp, park & campsite amenities, personalized tour guides, interactive maps, and more!

While the National Park Service app might not have nearly enough features to compete with apps like AllTrails or Gaia GPS, I find it an essential download for the most updated official resource on trailheads and park amenities in the United States.

NPS National Park Service App Preview
National Park Service previews their new NPS Guides (Image Courtesy:

Oh, and they're free to download!

National Park Service App (NPS) is available on both android and iOS.

Go beyond with these hiking apps!

I focused my attention on hiking locally or trekking new areas, but if you are mountain biking, camping, and more, the best hiking apps will accommodate for such. After all, a lot of the tools you use in the top hiking apps are linked to using GPS for navigation and tracking or using maps to route and plan ahead.

I also hope you check out the fun or impactful hiking or walking apps like Pokemon GO and iNaturalist!

Regardless of what best hiking app you go with, you'll definitely be in good hands with these top picks!

Plan your trips with Pilot!

All of the apps listed here are complimentary apps to Pilot! Hiking is enjoyed as a weekend pastime and as a travel activity. After all, hiking is often required to see some of the world's most beautiful natural sceneries!

If you're looking to go hiking during your trip, make sure to plan your adventures ahead with Pilot!

In content CTA version 1 - product
Pilot is a social trip planner to discover and build travel itineraries connecting you to resources everywhere, for free. Pilot makes it fun and easy to create and share your favorite travel moments.

Collaborate stress-free with your travel companions and have all the features you need all in one place with Pilot. It’s completely free and ready for you to try it out now!

Disclosure: Pilot is supported by our community. We may earn a small commission fee with affiliate links on our website. All reviews and recommendations are independent and do not reflect the official view of Pilot.

Pilot Icon in White

Satisfy your wanderlust

Get Pilot. The travel planner that takes fun and convenience to a whole other level. Try it out yourself.

Join the Waitlist
Join the Waitlist

Did you like this article? Share your thoughts!

Make the most of every trip

Join 14,000+ travelers and Pilot your next adventure!
Get the app
Get the app
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

You won’t want to plan trips any other way!

The trip planner that puts everything in one place, making planning your trip easier, quicker, and more fun.

Get the app
Get the app
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Close button
Close button
Get the app
Get the app
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.