When it comes to a year-round hobby that’s good for your physical and mental health, it’s hard to beat hiking. As a low-impact workout, hiking provides cardio, aerobic and strength-training benefits for adults of all ages, which help prevent against obesity, diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
Hiking is especially accessible and beneficial for seniors, and when done safely with proper equipment like hiking boots and trekking poles, can provide hours of fun and adventure. For the best trekking poles, click this link. When it comes to getting back to nature through hiking, don’t ditch technology for good. There are loads of helpful apps for your smartphone that can make you a better, smarter, and more adventurous hiker:
Map My Hike (iPhone & Android)
Integrating fitness tracking with hiking, MapMyHike records important fitness data while simultaneously tracking your hiking route. Features include an interactive map that lets you see exactly where you hiked as well as what your elevation was, calories burned, distance traversed, pace, speed and more. Share data with your social networks, and rely on the hike tracking to help you get back to safety if you get lost.
AllTrails (iOS & Android)
Looking to dip your toe in the hiking pool but not sure where to start? The AllTrails app features detailed maps of 50,000+ trails across the U.S. and Canada. Search and find the best one for you based on factors like dog-friendly, distance, great views, bike-friendly, well-rated, etc. This app will also use your smartphone’s GPS tracking to help you stay on the trail and avoid getting lost, as well as track important stats like elevation, pace, and speed.
ViewRanger (iOS & Android)
Your digital guide to outdoor exploration, ViewRanger generates hundreds of thousands of route guides around the globe which you can download to plan your next adventure. Neat features like Skyline also let you hold your mobile device up so the camera can capture the landscape while the app notates features and landmarks right in front of you. Meticulous topographic maps created in partnership with groups like National Parks and major outdoor brands make this app a must-have for all hikers.
Sky Guide (iOS)
Take star gazing to the next level with the SkyGuide app from Fifth Star Labs. This innovative app lets you hold your smartphone up to any portion of the sky and see detailed identifications of stars, constellations, planets, and more. No Wi-Fi or GPS needed for SkyGuide to work, and features like night vision, brightness, and filters help you adjust your view based on proximity to light pollution, etc.
Red Cross First Aid (Android)
Minor injuries like an ankle sprain, or allergic reaction to poison ivy, can happen on the hiking trail so make sure you are prepared. Apps like First Aid from the Red Cross can provide quick, helpful information that lets you handle a minor emergency on the trail. The app also features videos, quizzes, checklists, and 911 integration so you can call for help fast; and now you can easily switch to Spanish translation with the simple toggle of a button.
Leafsnap (iOS & Android)
Electronic field guides are hitting the app waves providing fast, informative insight into your surroundings while hiking. Created by researchers from Columbia University, Leafsnap specifically lets users upload photographs of any leaf and uses visual recognition software to return data on what type of tree the leaf came from. Leafsnap currently shares data on tree species of the northeast U.S., however, they are working on covering the rest of the country soon.
Dark Sky (iOS & Android)
Never head out for a hike without knowing exactly what weather you are in for. Preparation is key to staying safe, and few weather apps get it right like DarkSky. Aggregated hyper-local forecast data helps DarkSky provide to-the-minute weather predictions for your exact location, as well as sun up and sundown times. Live radar maps and weekly forecasts also help you plan ahead and avoid inclement weather when hiking.