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.
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 This information provided for Trailguru is for historical reference only.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.