One of the best activities to do when you’re traveling is hiking. It’s free and great exercise. It also allows you to see and experience more of the area you are visiting. In this article, I’ll share how I use All Trails, my favorite tool for hiking that allows me to find great hiking trails, read reviews about them, and assess the difficulty to see if the trails are right for me.
In the video tutorial below, I share my screen and show you how I use All Trails to accomplish these tasks and more. Then keep reading below to learn more details about what this app can do.
Finding Hiking Trails
One of the most common things hikers use All Trails for is to find great trails along their travels. If you’re somewhere new and don’t know what the best hiking trails are, All Trails gives you options with user reviews, but it does a lot more than that. You can do these searches on the app or on your computer.
All Trails can help you find the best hiking trail for your preference, ability, and location. You can sort and filter on so many options. When you first bring the app up you have the option to search nearby or if you are planning a trip in advance, you can enter the location. For example, when I was traveling to Maine, I used the app to find trails on Monhegan Island and in Acadia National Park.
If you click the filter button, you can sort by Best Match, Most Popular, or Closest. You can also choose the difficulty (easy, moderate, or hard). The problem with choosing a difficulty level here is that you don’t really know how that compares to your rating. Instead, I prefer to filter by length (in miles) and elevation gain (in feet).
As you scroll down, you’ll see you can sort on attractions like waterfalls, beach, rails trails, or historic site. You can also filter on suitability such as dog friendly, paved, accessible, or stroller friendly. Finally, you can choose the route type including out & back, loop, or point to point.
Be aware that you don’t have to filter on anything. You can simply choose to see the full list of hikes. However, the filters help save time if you are looking for something in particular.
If you want to view them by location (nearby is a subjective term after all), you can see the hikes on a map.
Assessing Hiking Trails
Once you have a list of potential hikes, you can use All Trails to assess if it is right for you. One of the most important consideration is your hiking experience and ability. It is so important to follow these hiker safety tips to ensure you don’t get yourself into danger.
Here’s how you assess a hike in All Trails:
- Click on a hike that looks interesting to you.
- Take note of the length and elevation gain to get a general idea of the difficulty.
- View the full map to see if the elevation is concentrated in one area. You can also see the grade of the incline and any water crossings on the map.
- Scroll down to reviews and see what other hikers have said about the trail. Just realize that some terms like “easy” or “hard” are subjective and vary among hikers.
Creating Your Own Custom Hiking Trails
If you don’t see a trail that fits all your requirements, don’t despair. My favorite part of All Trails Pro is the ability to create my own custom maps. When using All Trails Pro on your computer, simply click the down arrow next to “Plan” and you’ll see a drop down menu. Choose “Create Map” and you can draw your own. Using the map, navigate to the location you want to hike at and you’ll see all the public trails. In this example, I’m looking at Shenandoah National Park.
Just choose Draw Route and when you click on a trail, you’ll start the hiking trail map. Continue doing that along the route you want to take and it will show you the total mileage and elevation. And you can continue to edit it until it meets your needs.
Then you name it and add notes under Description. Then save it and you’re ready to sync it to your phone.
Navigating Using All Trails
The first thing you will need to do if you want to navigate using All Trails is the download the trail on your phone. This will ensure that you have navigation even if you don’t have a cell signal. Here’s how you do that:
Don’t forget to share the map of your hiking trail with someone else so they know where you will be. It’s a good idea to share your itinerary details like when you plan to arrive at the trailhead, your hiking speed, and when you plan to be finished.
Once you reach the trailhead and are ready to start your navigation on your phone, you … As you hike you will be the blue dot moving along the trail. The dark green dot is your starting point. When you stop for breaks, you have the option of pausing or continuing to let it run. If you continue to let it run, which is what I do, when you are completed you’ll see “total time” and “moving time.”
Tracking for Hiking Progress with All Trails
Another feature that I really enjoy with All Trails is the ability to track my progress. Under “History,” you’ll see a tab for “Stats.” This is great because it shows mileage, elevation gain, and moving time in a graph by month. It also shows your personal bests for each category.
Additionally, you can look at your “Activities” list and review each hike to see the average pace, mileage, and elevation individually. If you click on “Splits” you’ll see your pace for each mile.
All of these features are great it you want to improve your time or increase your distance and mileage.
All Trails Limitations
One thing I’ve noticed from my experience is that the mileage listed for hikes is often shorter than the true duration. If you are looking at a hike that is already loaded, scroll down to the reviews and see if anyone has a recording of their hike. If so, click on that and you’ll see how long it really was.
If you are drawing a custom map, take a look at the elevation gain because that is what is often not accounted for in the All Trails mileage estimate.
Another thing to note is that many trails are crowd sourced, meaning that individuals can record and recommend a new trail. For this reason, be sure to pay attention to any no trespassing or private property signs.
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