How to find a local hiking trail

It’s Saturday morning. You’ve had a really busy week and no time to solidify any weekend plans. You had thought about hiking or biking, but you accidentally slept until 10 and you think that by the time you find a cool-looking local hiking trail, its gonna be too late.

Introducing the AllTrails app, a free local hiking trail finder for your smart phone.

Last summer I came across the All Trails app and decided to give it a try. Within 10 minutes of browsing the app, I was able to find a great local hiking trail trail that met my requirements for difficulty and length. I ended up having an awesome day out on the trail and since then, AllTrails has become my go-to tool when looking for a last minute hike.

How AllTrails works

When you download the free AllTrails app, you can either create a username and password or you can log in with Facebook. Then the first thing you should do is set your home zip code by going to your profile in the drop down menu.

AllTrails Home Screen     AllTrails menu screen     AllTrails-nearby-trails-screen

 

After you log in and click the “trails” button, it automatically populates the map with your local hiking trails. You can also click on the map and zoom out to see trails that are further away, or if you are on vacation, you can search by your current location.

Difficulty of each trail is indicated by the color. Green is easy, blue is moderate, and black is strenuous. For each trail, the app provides details including mileage, elevation gain, primary trail activities (hiking, mountain biking, etc), and best time of year for the trail. One of my favorite features of the AllTrails app is many of the local hiking trails have ratings, reviews, and user photos, which makes choosing a trail much easier.

AllTrails-trail-description-screen    AllTrails-trail-screen    AllTrails Review Screen

 

When you find a trail of interest, you can save it by clicking the “favorite” button, which allows you to access that trail later without having to search for it again. Then when you are ready to hit the road you can click “directions” which will open your maps app and provide you driving directions to the trailhead.

AllTrails-favorite-screen

For some local hiking trails that other AllTrails users have completed, there is also the option to follow their “tracks.” This allows you follow the GPS recorded path of people who have previously hiked the trail.

All Trails Tracks Screen

While I really like the AllTrails app, and it has made the often time-consuming process of choosing a trail much quicker, there are a few things to be aware of. First, the descriptions and maps of some of the trails can be limited in this app, so unless you are feeling adventurous, it might be best to stick to trails that have reviews and completed tracks. Second, following completed tracks can suck your battery down, so make sure to keep an eye on your battery life. Finally, at times I’ve lost service out on the trail, and the map features have stopped working.

For these reasons, the AllTrails app is great for choosing a trail, but it is always smart to have a paper map on hand or use AllTrails in conjunction with a more robust map App like Offline Topo Maps which costs $9.99 in the iTunes store. Alternatively, AllTrails recently released a Pro Version, which I have yet to try. This service costs $49.99 a year and integrates with National Geographic topographic maps.

Overall, the AllTrails app is a very handy tool that can help you get out on the trail when you haven’t had time to plan. Download the app for free here!

What apps do you use to hit the trail? Share your thoughts in the comments below!