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Why You Should Download the AllTrails App Before Your Next Hike

The AllTrails app has saved me more than once over the few years and a half. My last hike before I began using this app, we got so lost that I don't even know where we were. Hiking with a baby in the heat of the summer, I should have been better prepared. However, since downloading the AllTrails app, I haven't gotten lost yet.

Let's talk about AllTrails. This website allows you to create a list of hikes you want to do and categorize them into folders, or mark hikes as completed. This is a superb feature for me because I often forget about the small hikes I have done and end up spending an hour trying to research where I went one time in 2013.

After you have created your bucket list, hopefully it's as bountiful as mine that I keep in a composite notebook, you are ready to use the app on the trail. Before I leave my house, I do the following:

  • Ensure the app is downloaded and active on my phone.

  • Pull up the hike I am about to do and take detailed screenshots in case my phone loses service or runs low on battery and I need to put my phone on airplane mode.

  • Use the coordinates given by the app for the trailhead and enter them into my phone's GPS to see if they match my directions and figure out which to use.

PRO TIP: Often times, I will get the address for the hike from a website, and it will take me to the general area, but AllTrails will end up taking me right to the trailhead. I like this because I can scope out the trailhead, then find parking afterward instead of vice versa. This eliminates wasted time walking around attempting to find the trailhead.

  • Screenshot the hike's map as a whole and send it to someone who is hiking with me and someone who is not. If my phone dies, I want the coordinates and the map on someone else's phone, and for safety, I ensure that family or a friend knows my location.

Once at the trailhead, I will use the app if and when the trail gets confusing. Often, even

when service is lacking, if I have the map portion of the hike pulled up, it will show my GPS location as a blue dot and track me if I go off-trail. A word of advice: it is easy to keep looking at your phone to track your progress, and this might be helpful if you are keeping track of time. However, it has certainly worked against me and discouraged me from the lack of progress I have made, especially with a child on my back. Use it as a reference tool if you are unsure, but not like your car's turn-by-turn directions. You need to keep your trail skills sharp and challenge your sense of direction while hiking.

I hope this helps someone, and good luck!

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