Trailguru and MapMyHIKE: Two Easy-to-Use Hiking Apps

Keeping a hiking log is a great way to track progress and stay motivated. Back in the old days—like all of a few years ago—my hiking log was just a list of dates and trails that I scrawled in a notebook.

Now I depend on smartphone apps to do the work for me. New hiking apps are always becoming available but the one that I still use the most is MapMyHIKE.

Apps are largely a matter of personal preference, so the good news is that both Trailguru and MapMyHIKE are free.

That means you can experiment to see which one works best for you.

Please note Trailguru has now been discontinued. This information provided for Trailguru is for historical reference only.

What They Do

Both apps use a GPS to track and record routes and times. At the end of a hike, you can name the route and post information to your online user page. Both apps also give you the opportunity to keep details private or post a record so that other users can see your information.

These apps use up a lot of battery life, so make sure your smartphone is fully charged before heading out.

Screen Displays While on the Trail

Trailguru has a simple display that prominently shows time, distance, pace, and current elevation. You can also take photos without leaving the app.

MapMyHIKE offers two screen options. One shows time and distance against a real-time map that illustrates location. Displays of current and average pace run along the bottom.

The other screen option doesn't show the map. Instead, it prominently features time, distance and speed for quicker and easier viewing.

Online User Page Information After Posting a Hike

When you go to your home page on Trailguru, you’ll first see information from other users, which you can filter by activity and friends—or simply ignore (which is what I do).

Select “My User Page” and you’ll see a list of your posted hikes, which are arranged by date. Click on each hike for a record that includes time, distance, pace, minimum and maximum elevation, and calories burned. Your hike route is also marked on a map that you can view as a satellite image, with streets, or as a hybrid of the two. Graphs illustrate elevation profile, speed, and pace vs. distance. The Trailguru user page also lets you add notes about the hike and upload photos.

The MapMyHIKE homepage will show a list of your hikes with distance, time, and pace per mile. Click on the map icon and you can see the actual route with a graph of elevation changes and total elevation gained. Thumbnail photos from Flickr of nearby areas also appear.

Advantages of Trailguru

Because many smartphones have sensitive touchscreens, it’s easy to accidentally brush against a screen when you reach into your pocket or daypack and stop recording a hike. Trailguru has a simple locking setting that prevents such mishaps. Trailguru also lets you take geotagged photos of your hike without leaving the app.

Another advantage of Trailguru? Simplicity. The graphics are basic and unflashy but get the job done without a lot of distractions.

The satellite map offers a nice perspective on the terrain where you hiked. You can also choose a wider map view that makes it easier to identify landmarks that you spotted in the distance from the trail.

Advantages of MapMyHIKE

If you want to share hiking information, it’s simple to do via Twitter and Facebook. You can also check and see where friends are hiking at a given time.

I haven't tried it yet but MapMyHIKE also has a "nutrition center" that lets you establish a calorie budget based on your workouts.

Another cool feature is that you can view your hike on a “3D Flyover Video.” The video goes too fast but the aerial perspective of where you just hiked is intriguing.

Disadvantages of Trailguru

Gadget fans will want additional functions and more appealing displays. Because Trailguru has to operate in the foreground, it will stop tracking when you take a phone call or use another app.

I haven’t had any problems with Trailguru but reviewers have complained that the app isn’t being updated and so Facebook uploads don’t work properly. Distance accuracy can also vary significantly depending on terrain and GPS signal.

Disadvantages of MapMyHIKE

As with Trailguru, distance accuracy can vary depending on GPS strength and terrain. The screen display while you're hiking with the map displayed doesn't show time and distance prominently enough. The homepage is busy and isn’t as intuitive as it should be. There are also too many ads, which can be distracting.

The Verdict?

I’m sticking with Trailguru—barely. In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve been using Trailguru much longer and that additional familiarity likely adds to its appeal.

But Trailguru’s overall simplicity will make it easier to use for hikers—especially beginners—who are looking to begin and maintain a basic hiking log.