10 Best Hiking Apps for Apple Watch

Since its introduction in early 2015, the Apple watch has consistently delivered on a universal front as one of the most innovative and flexible pieces of technology you can use.

As time went on, so too did the versatility of this little marvel, settling comfortably into most people’s daily lives. This little watch makes planning on the go a breeze and even becomes integral to some people’s morning routine.

In that same train of thought, the Apple watch continuously breaks barriers with new ways to put its connectivity to good use, and hiking is no exception.

Truthfully the Apple watch can make short work of navigation, planning, and even keeping track of your progress with built-in stepmothers and other health apps that will allow you to monitor your fitness in real time.

Given this information, there are some excellent Apple Watch hiking apps that you can use. These include the following:

  • All Trails
  • OS Maps
  • Work Outdoors
  • Caltopo
  • Ride With GPS
  • Komoot
  • Gaia GPS
  • Strava
  • Fatmap
  • Avenza Maps

This article discusses why each hiking app would be the best and helps you choose which one you prefer. We want to help make your life easier, so we have researched for you. Keep reading for all there is to know!

What Is the Best Apple Watch Hiking App?

When going on a hike, preparation is key as the motivation to go on a hike for those of us who aren’t exactly keen on the outdoors. You will want to get the latest and greatest Apple Watch hiking apps to ensure you are prepared.

While the built-in “workout” app that comes standard with your watch does an excellent job at certain things, the general lack of customization and navigation makes it pretty lackluster for hiking. Below is a list of the ten best apps you can use on your Apple Watch to truly enjoy your hiking experience.

1. All Trails

All Trails is a fantastic app for navigating any trails you plan on blazing, but note that you will need your phone to use it as it is not a standalone app. Still, bearing that in mind, All Trails will grant you access to over 200,000 trail maps worldwide, making it one of the few that can be used internationally with some restrictions.

The best part is the range of this app is growing continuously, so if it is not generating trails for you yet, it will inevitably come to your neck of the woods soon, or you can reach out and pioneer some yourself.

Keep in mind that some of this app’s best features are locked behind a premium service, so you will be limited on what to do unless you pay for their service.

2. OS Maps

Next on the list is OS Maps, which comes with two weeks of premium subscription when you initially sign up. OS Maps offers quite a few unique features like the following:

  • Topographic maps
  • Offline map access
  • 3D mapping
  • The ability to import and export unique routes you’d like to try or have enjoyed before

The free service is not anything to scoff at either, as it comes with the ability to plan custom routes and navigate on the go. You are sure to reach your destination in style, with access to ready-made trails available on both the free and premium versions of the app.

3. Work Outdoors

Work Outdoors takes some of the most advanced parts of the previous two apps and couples them together with a much more health-oriented focus. This app contains things like showing your heart rate, tracking if you are keeping a good pace and a steady cadence and having a highly customizable HUD.

Work Outdoors might be one of the best apps available for the Apple Watch. The app can also be customized depending on whether or not you are running or walking.

For example, it contains unique workout plans that can be imported and exported in several different file types, taking much of the guesswork out when getting your favorite routes into your watch. Plus, the app itself only costs $6.99.

4. Caltopo

Stepping away from the health-oriented style of the above app, Caltopo emphasizes highly detailed maps with aerial views. This app contains topography and a wind plot that allows you to get a bird’s eye view of any location you plan on hiking through with easily downloadable maps for offline use. The offline usage is in case you plan on going to remote areas that might not have a steady connection.

The Caltopo app has both a free and premium version, with the premium variant offering more in-depth views of locations and even offering slope angle shading.

5. Ride With GPS

This app has a comfortable blend of being viable as a standalone app or even more versatile with your phone, depending on how light you want to travel. Ride With GPS has built-in recording to track distance to get a better scope of how far you’ve traveled at a glance. It also can display your preferred metric of choice. Not only that, but you will be comfortable checking how far along you are without stopping for long, and this app syncs up with Apple Health, making up for the lack of these features in the app innately.

6. Komoot

Komoot has a simplistic design centered around a green color base, focusing on letting you choose your favorite method of getting around and making a route built just for you. So whether it be trekking out on foot or going for a nice bike ride, Komoot can get you there with the least hassle, pick whether or not the route you prefer is a road, gravel, touring or even MTB, and let this app handle the rest. You do not need the latest and greatest Apple Watch to use this app, as it can run on most Apple Watches starting with version 3 and up.

7. Gaia GPS

Another fantastic standalone app making its entrance on the list with Gaia GPS. This app is highly simplistic in form and function, with a very basic HUD and easy to use, with setup being just as easy.

This app features turn-by-turn navigation that is easily accessible on offline maps, guaranteeing you don’t get lost when your connection goes down. It also contains a two-button system displaying your navigation and the ability to record your current route to create new and unique ways to get to your favorite destinations and back.

8. Strava

Strava is another fire-and-forget app that allows you to tailor your hiking experience to your liking. It can be used on older model Apple watches, starting at series two and later, with the app being standalone on these as well.

The app allows you to record your activities, generate new routes, and cycle between whether or not you are running, walking, or riding a bike (to get a better time measurement of your routes).

Not only this, but Strava has health information integrated into it as well, making it a fantastic all-in-one. Lastly, you can change your music from the app with a customizable HUD.


FATMAP is primarily made for the iPhone and iPad, but you can access its intricate maps and 3D pathing on the Apple watch with some know-how and ingenuity. The app offers the most detailed mapping available and is currently ranked as the #1 app for any mountain sports and adventures.

The app offers topographical map layers, offline maps you can access, and the ability to plan and navigate your route in real time. It also shows specific routes you went down while recording your journey, allowing you to show it to family and friends in depth.

10. Avenza Maps

The final entry on the list but certainly not the worst, Avenza Maps is another app that will take your hiking to another level. Still, it is more centered on the iPhone and iPad but can be viewed on your Apple Watch.

Avenza’s biggest claims to fame are its being geared explicitly for offline use and its myriad built-in functions like a compass, stepmother, and the ability to see elevation values based entirely on where you stand.

Is an Apple Watch Good for Long Hikes?

An Apple watch makes for a fantastic hiking partner, with its utility only growing in use the longer you are on the trail. This need grows even more if you find yourself in the middle of a forest or even along a mountain without a lot of direction.

These apps will allow you to orient yourself on how to get back to civilization and guide you back to that specific spot should you like the view of your remote location.

How Do I Set My Apple Watch to Hike?

The methods required to set your watch up appropriately depend entirely on the app you choose, as each one is different and has specific steps required to turn them on and enable them for your adventure.

In that case, take some time to familiarize yourself with your preferred app of choice and read up on its usage to get the most out of your app and ensure you don’t encounter any issues when using it on the open trail.

How Do I Follow a Route on My Apple Watch?

As noted above, most apps function a little differently, but enabling your GPS on your watch (or iPhone, depending on whether or not the app is standalone) is one of the most critical steps in starting your route.

After that, you’ll want to open your app of choice on your watch and look for the “Local routes” button or something similar on your app. If you find yourself confused, follow the step-by-step guide included with whichever app you decide to go with.


Hiking is a fun and adventurous way to explore the great outdoors. Still, when complimented with technology, you can not only carve out unique experiences but save them and even re-visit them with people you care about or make reaching those destinations easier the next time.

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