Since 2018, my hiking adventures have started with a search at AllTrails. The powerful search engine and comfortable user interface have made it simple to find the trails I want and save them for later. But that’s just the beginning. AllTrails has so many powerful features they developed a support page with tutorials to explain it all.
I grew up in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. The Appalachian Trail crossed my front yard and the Blue Ridge Parkway the backyard – figuratively. My fondest childhood memories are hiking the trails at Grayson Highlands State Park, which is still my favorite state park in the country.
AllTrails has enabled me to keep hiking into my adult years. I’m never lost with offline maps and trail navigation. I’m never frustrated from losing time searching for the next trail to hike.
But don’t just take my word for it. Read this review of AllTrails, see the list of features for free and paid accounts, and give it a try with a 7-day free trial. You’ll agree once you try it – AllTrails is the best hiking app.
AllTrails did not pay for this review and did not give me a free product trial. I paid for a yearly AllTrails+ membership myself because I believe in this product.
Table of Contents
What is AllTrails?
AllTrails defies a single definition. It’s like asking someone to explain why is Earth? But I can think of four core features that define AllTrails.
AllTrails is a search engine.
The core of the website and smartphone app is a massive database of over 400,000 curated trails. Trails are uploaded by the 55 million active users and curated by a dedicated staff of outdoor enthusiasts.
AllTrails is a navigation tool.
Finding the trails is only the beginning of the journey with the AllTrails app on smartphones. With your permission, the app uses your GPS location to compare it to the curated trail data and offers turn-by-turn navigation. But it’s more than just turning left or right – the app also provides information on the trail’s elevation, weather, and driving directions to the trailhead.
AllTrails is a tracking tool.
The smartphone app can record your hike for posterity or the coveted Verified Completed badge, proving you completed the trail. You can upload completed trails to AllTrails’ database and help improve their search results of curated trails.
AllTrails is a social network.
Every registered user has a profile that can be set to private, public, or somewhere in between. Profiles display a trail journal of completed trails and stats of the victorious hike. Users can like and comment on the posts and share messages across the app.
So, what is AllTrails?
It’s a community of outdoor enthusiasts who use a smartphone app for trail navigation, recording their hike so it can be contributed to the growing database of trails curated by a dedicated staff.
AllTrails vs AllTrails+
Registering for an account with AllTrails is free. The free accounts have several powerful features for searching for trails, saving them to lists, and getting trail navigation. It’s great if you’re a casual hiker who enjoys easy trails.
But suppose you’re an avid hiker who enjoys backpacking into regions without cellular service. In that case, you might want to consider a paid account. In 2023, AllTrails Pro rebranded as AllTrails+, “making it clear that AllTrails+ isn’t about who scales the highest mountains – it’s about giving everyone extra tools to save time, be prepared, and do more outdoors.”
So, what’s the difference between AllTrails and AllTrails+? Here is a handy breakdown of all the features to help you decide which is best.
AllTrails+ is $35.99 per year – there is no monthly subscription option. New users can get a 7-day free trial before committing.
Search for Hiking Trails
I am a meticulous planner. I’ve been known to spend days crafting the perfect road trip itinerary and chuck it out the window on the first day because of a spontaneous opportunity. But that’s not the safest way to approach hiking – especially on challenging trails where cellular service is spotty.
AllTrails has one of the largest databases of hiking trails available to search for free – even before creating a free account. But a database that large can be difficult to find precisely what you want. Fortunately, AllTrails has an array of search filters that help thin out the results.
Searching for hiking trails begins at https://www.alltrails.com/explore or in the smartphone app. The map defaults to your current location to make searching easier to start.
Pro Travel Tip
If logged into your account on a desktop or laptop computer, you can effortlessly search for trails and save them to a custom list. The lists are instantly synced with all your devices signed into the same account. This makes it effortless to search for favorite trails at work – er at home on your personal computer.
The search bar invites you to “search by city, park, or trail name.” But this is only the beginning. Searching for “great smoky mountains national park” returns a list that includes the park’s destination page. But clicking on the park’s name reveals a map with 430 curated trails – yikes!
The second search method for hiking trails with AllTrails is an array of search filters. You can use one of the following filters with a free or paid account:
- Activity – 19 options like hiking, mountain biking, or backpacking
- Difficulty rating using a proprietary equation and staff experience
- Length ranging from 0 to 50+ miles
- Suitability for dogs, kids, or wheelchairs
- Attractions like waterfall, wildlife, or pub walk – interesting
- Elevation gain from 0 to 5,000 feet
- Route type
- Trail traffic
- Highest point from 0 to 15,000 feet
- Trail completion based on your profile
The only search filter that requires an AllTrails+ account is “Distance Away.” This filter allows you to limit the search to a certain distance for your current location to quickly find nearby trails.
The third method for searching for hiking trails is to use one of AllTrails’ curated lists. Their Search Directory includes a list of hundreds of countries, regions, cities, and parks around the world. Quickly find listings for top trails in Tennessee, Gatlinburg, or Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The search results appear in a map display with a left sidebar. Scrolling through the sidebar to find a trail based on difficulty, rating, and length is easy. Or you can scroll and zoom through the map to see a trail based on location. Clicking on a trail’s name opens a dedicated landing page for the trail.
Curated Trails vs. Community Content
Two types of trails are displayed through searches on AllTrails: Curated Trails and Community Content. Initially, all the trails in the trails began as user-generated community content. But then, a dedicated staff of outdoor enthusiasts begins curating the trails – this feature sets AllTrails apart from many competitors.
The AllTrails staff works diligently to confirm the details of any community content. They verify information like the trailhead, distance, elevation gain, and difficulty rating. They ensure the recorded trail matches preexisting information on OpenStreetMaps.
Once the information is verified, the community content is upgraded to a Curated Trail, providing comfort, knowing it’s a verified trail with a good route to follow in the navigator.
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AllTrails and AllTrails+ Features
AllTrails has a lot of features. And a lot of the features are available with a free account. But, it can be overwhelming to learn about all the features at once and whether or not it requires a paid account.
So, I’ve made that easy for you. I listed each feature below and included a label for “free” or “paid” to make it distinguishable. Of course, the “paid” AllTrails+ accounts have access to all the free and paid features.
After searching for a trail and opening the trail’s landing page, you’re presented with a wealth of information. Take your time learning the layout of this page because the information is valuable.
Most of the information on the landing page is available for free or paid accounts. Here’s a breakdown of the free information you’ll find:
This is the location of the trail within AllTrail’s database organization. Clicking on any of the links before the trail’s name takes you to a directory page where you can find more trails.
Clicking this button reveals a menu with additional options for the trail. Users with free accounts can download the route or add to their completed trails.
The most valuable trail data is displayed prominently here: length of the trail, elevation gain, and route type. Beneath this information is a short description of the trail.
Free accounts can see the forecasted weather conditions up to four days in advance. The conditions include expected high and low temperatures, rain prediction, and sunrise and sunset times.
These user-generated reviews are great for learning about recent trail conditions like closures or detours.
Some of the features on the trail’s landing page require a paid AllTrails+ account. Here’s a breakdown of all the paid features so you can decide if it’s worth the investment:
Print/PDF Map allows you to print a paper backup of the trail map in case of catastrophic technology failure during the hike.
Send to Garmin allows you to instantly send the route to connect Garmin smartwatches. The devices are linked to your account in the settings.
Clicking this button begins a 3D flyover preview of the trail. It’s a fascinating way to understand the trail’s difficulty and what to expect once you hit the trail.
AllTrails+ accounts can see the forecasted weather 7 days in advance.
AllTrails+ accounts have access to three additional types of data.
Weather along the trail shows the forecasted weather at different times of day and positions along the trail.
Ground conditions tell you if the ground is wet from recent rain, icy from cold weather, or dry during your hike.
Mosquito activity helps you prepare for the biting insects in the summer.
Basic Map Details
A second way to view the trail information is to use the map view. Clicking or tapping on the map preview opens the map view. The text information is shifted to a small sidebar on the left while the map dominates the window. Beneath the map is the handy elevation profile.
Here’s a breakdown of the additional details on the map view:
This toggle in the top-right corner allows you to change the base map type. Free accounts can choose from AllTrails, Road, Satellite, USGS Topo, Terrain, World Parks, OpenStreetMaps, and OpenCycleMaps.
The details provide additional insight into the trails to help you prepare.
Waypoints are a relatively new feature and are not supported on every trail.
Photos are user-generated photos uploaded during a hike that gives you a sneak peek into what you’ll see on the trail.
Nearby trails help you find additional trails that intersect or come close to the trail. And distance markers help you visualize the length of the hike.
This is my favorite feature of the landing page. On the desktop, hovering anywhere over the profile shows the distance from the trailhead, current elevation, and current grade slope at that point on the trail. A corresponding blue dot appears on the map so you can visualize that point of the trail. You must tap on the profile on smartphones to see the same information.
Advanced Map Details
There are a few additional features available to AllTrails+ users on the map view:
In addition to the free map details, AllTrails+ users get access to four additional map layers.
Weather overlays the current weather radar on the map.
Air quality, light pollution, and pollen show the current quality based on live data.
200+ National Park Guides
A recent addition to the paid features for AllTrails+ users is the collection of National Park Guides. These lists of curated trails offer a quick look at the most popular trails in the 63 national parks.
It’s easy to browse the accordion list that can be sorted alphabetically. Some parks, like Yellowstone and Yosemite, have more than one guide. Smaller parks, like South Carolina’s Congaree National Park, have just one guide.
Send Routes to Garmin Devices
AllTrails directly integrates with Garmin Connect, software for data transfers between the web and Garmin smart devices. From the settings page in AllTrails, paid users can click “Connect with Garmin” to link the two accounts.
You can instantly upload any trail’s data to a Garmin smartwatch with linked accounts. This allows Garmin users to get trail navigation from their watch instead of their smartphone during a hike.
Although you need a paid account to effortlessly send routes to a Garmin device, free accounts still have the option to export trails. Hovering over or tapping the trail options button allows you to click “Download route.”
A popup appears asking you to choose a file format. AllTrails offers more formats for downloading a route than any other source. Although there are over 30 options, you typically want to choose Google Earth KML, CSV, Garmin, or GPX.
Exporting trails is helpful if you have a GPS device other than Garmin or Apple. You can upload the route to handheld GPS devices or a custom Google Map with the exported file. However, you will not have the same trail navigation functionality – these exported trails are only for planning purposes before you hit the trail.
Download Offline Maps
One of the most powerful AllTrails+ features is downloading maps for offline use. This is very helpful when cellular service is unavailable. The downloaded map includes all trail information, including route, map types, and navigation.
Downloading the maps is easy. Click or tap the downward arrow on any landing page to download the map. Maps remain on your smartphone until you manually remove them.
Curate Your Own Lists
One of my favorite features of AllTrails is the ability to curate my own lists. Create unlimited lists to save favorite hiking trails in parks and cities. It’s a great way to keep a handy list of recommended hikes for friends or return to a trail on a later visit.
However, this is one area where AllTrails lacks syncing between the smartphone app and the website. Online, the lists are sorted by most recent at the top with no way of reordering. The app makes it easy to edit the order by dragging the lists up and down. But whatever change is made to the sort order in the app does not sync to the web.
Connect to Apple Health and Apple Watch
Apple Health continues to become a more integrated part of the iOS ecosystem. And that includes AllTrails. Users with a free or paid account can link AllTrails and Apple Health to record your workouts on hikes.
You can also link AllTrails and Apple Watch for easy navigation and recording on the trail. The watch app allows you to control the recording of your activity, shows you the current pace and elevation gain on the trail, and gives you directions. It’s convenient to keep up with the hike without pulling out your smartphone.
The navigator performs two functions in the AllTrails app: records your activity and provides directions on the trail. These functions are available for all registered AllTrails users with a free or paid account.
Locate a trail using the search engine or tapping on a trail in your curated lists. Tap on the “Navigate” button to open the navigator. You’re presented with a basic overview of the trail in the first window – length, elevation gain, estimated time to complete, a complete map of the trail, and the elevation profile.
Tapping “Start” begins recording your activity and providing trail directions. By default, the map shows your position as a blue dot in the center of the screen, with north at the top. But you can change the orientation so that the top of the screen is your current direction of travel. You can pinch to zoom in and out of the map, change the base layer type to see contour lines, and tap to get additional information.
When you finish the trail, tap the button in the app to stop recording. You can enter information about the activity, like the trail name and details, and submit it to the Community Content. The 400,000+ curated trails in AllTrails’ database began as community content – they’re always looking for new trails to add.
One of the best features of the paid AllTrails+ is Lifeline. This feature allows you to share your location on a trail with selected friends and family. If they notice you haven’t moved from a spot in hours or are late getting back to your car, they can alert authorities that you may be in danger.
After loading a trail and tapping “Start” to record your activity, Lifeline uploads your real-time location to the web. You can select up to 5 people who can access your location. They will see the route of the trail you intend to hike, your current location, and your elapsed time. As soon as you stop recording, Lifeline stops tracking your location.
But Lifeline requires a cellular signal to work. Lifeline will only display your last known location and time without a cellular signal.
Another catch with Lifeline is that it does not provide you, as the hiker, with any direct benefits. Lifeline is not a messenger or SOS alert app. It cannot alert authorities that your life is in danger. It is merely a way for friends and family to keep up with your hike.
Since AllTrails debuted in 2010, the app has steadily inched closer to becoming a social network. Initially, profiles were private accounts for the users to keep track of their data. But now, profiles can be set to public, and other members can scroll through your feed, leaving likes and comments on your posts.
You have complete control over what information is displayed in your feed – or your Trail Journal, as AllTrails calls it. When you finish recording a trail, you are prompted whether or not to share it. You can also share previously completed trails, upload photos, and write reviews of the trails.
The Verified Completed badge is one of the latest additions to the AllTrails app. Anyone can mark a trail as completed without ever having set foot on the trail. So, the Verified Completed badge is a way of proving your conquest. You receive the coveted badge if you record your activity on the trail and your hike overlaps with at least 75% of the verified route.
Profiles are a great way of sharing your triumphs, getting encouragement from other members, and finding inspiration for your next hiking adventure. Here’s a breakdown of everything you’ll find on your profile and any public profiles.
The blue plus badge overlapping the profile picture indicates the profile you’re viewing is an AllTrails+ member. The only difference between the appearance of free and paid profiles is the strange header image across the top – a photo that cannot be changed.
Beneath the member’s name is the location they set as their home. This is changed in the app’s settings and can be left blank if you don’t want anyone to know your hometown.
Followers and Following
Like most social networks, this shows how many people are following your profile and how many profiles you are following.
Stats and Saved
This section shows how many activities you have recorded in the AllTrails app and how many curated lists you’ve created.
AllTrails calls the feed the “Trail Journal.” It’s an indication that the app isn’t just a tool for avid peakbaggers or backpackers. It’s a community for outdoor enthusiasts to share any hiking, biking, or walking activity.
In the Trail Journal, you can share completed hiking trails, photos of the trails, reviews, and all of your activities.
As you browse through the Trail Journal of other members, you can comment or like a post.
AllTrails is a powerful search engine, trail navigator, and social network. But its most powerful feature is the community. The AllTrails team didn’t personally hike 400,000+ trails, although I’m sure they’ve collectively hiked an impressive number. The curated trails came from the community that used AllTrails to track their adventures.
On the AllTrails Community webpage or the “Community” tab in the app, you can search for other members by nearby users, trails they have shared, or by name. You can connect your Facebook profile and search for people you know who may be on AllTrails.
The community aspect of AllTrails is not something I have tried – yet. Until now, I used the app merely to find awesome hiking trails and curating lists to share in my travel articles. But while writing this review, I realized the AllTrails community is something that’s been missing from my life.
The community can be a great source of inspiration and encouragement. So, I invite anyone to follow my AllTrails account at https://www.alltrails.com/members/jason-barnette-1. I plan to begin using the Trail Journal to share my hiking adventures during my road trips.
Not everyone can strap on trail runners and summit a mountain. AllTrails knew of this and included a powerful accessibility feature in their search engine.
One of the options in the “Suitability” search filter is “Wheelchair friendly.” For a curated trail to be marked wheelchair friendly, it must meet the following standards:
- A firm and smooth surface
- Maximum tread obstacles of 2 inches
- Minimum trail width of 3 feet
- 12% maximum grade
- Less than 30% of the trail exceeding an 8.3% grade
- Handrails where needed
- At least one viewing point with a viewing height of 32” to 51”
Why AllTrails is the Best Hiking App
The one thing I hate the most when traveling is wasting time. Trying to figure out where to go to dinner or which museum to visit next while sitting in the parking lot is frustrating. I like to have a plan or, at the very least, a list of options.
I feel the same about hiking. Often, cellular service in national parks and national forests is limited. So, searching for a trail inside the park can be difficult. The searches must happen before you leave your house, vacation rental, or hotel.
And that’s what I love the most about AllTrails. It’s easy to plan for upcoming trips and save trails to curated lists, download the maps for offline use, and be ready to go without wasting time.
AllTrails is a powerful search engine with an easy-to-use layout, a great navigator for trail directions and recording activities, and a wonderful community for sharing achievements and verified completed trails. It’s the easiest website and app for quickly finding trails, saving lists, and accessing downloaded maps in cellular dead zones.
And AllTrails has an Incredible support page with every feature for free and paid accounts and complete tutorials on how to use it: https://support.alltrails.com/hc/en-us
Here is a complete breakdown of all the pros and cons of AllTrails and AllTrails+:
iOS app works flawlessly on iPhone and Apple Watch
Android app works great on Android smartphones and Wear OS smartwatches
Website for desktop use has all the powerful search and save features
Effortless to find new trails
AllTrails includes enough powerful features for safe hiking without having to pay for more
Unable to sort personal lists on the website
Not optimized for iPadOS
No monthly option for AllTrails+
No Apple Widgets or Shortcuts support
Frequently Asked Questions
AllTrails is free for registered users. About 60% of the features are available for free users, including searching for trails, saving to custom lists, and getting trail navigation while hiking.
The AllTrails app is free to download for iOS and Android. However, AllTrails+ is $35.99 per year. The premium membership gives users access to more features.
Yes, AllTrails uses GPS for trail navigation and recording your activity.
The AllTrails app only uses data you allow it to access, like your GPS location. You can delete your personal data from the app at any time.
The AllTrails app will work on an iPad, however, it is not optimized for use in landscape mode. On an iPad, the AllTrails app appears vertically like it would on an iPhone.
Yes, the AllTrails app works on Apple Watch. Once connected, you can use the Apple Watch to start and stop recordings and get trail navigation.