Trail Map Resources
Navigation AnD GPS APPS
iOS and Android mapping app connected to a web store that sells GPS-enabled maps. The maps-for-sale cover many regions in the Continental US and many maps from various publishers are available. (For example, my beloved NYNJ Trail Conference Maps are available on the Avenza Store). You can also generate your own GPS-Enabled PDF maps on CalTopo and load them into the Avenza app. This makes it a great self-service mapping app for use in the United States. The in-app store is poorly designed and it can be infuriating to locate the map you desire. I recommend finding it using a computer, and then typing the keywords into the search box on the app. (I purchase through iOS, so I don’t have a specific ‘Avenza’ account.)
An iOS and Android mapping app for specific trails. What makes Guthooks unique is that in addition to providing GPS and mapping features for several marquee long trails throughout the world, the app also includes a light-weight community feature allowing hikers to add comments and water updates to waypoints. Prior year comments can be also viewed allowing for directional insight into the conditions ahead. (If the stream was dry by this month the past 3 years, it’s likely dry this year too.) There are a whole host of additional features that make this powerful, and the app quickly replaced my paper guide book and paper maps while on the PCT. (Yes, I know, “always carry a paper map and compass!” Unless you’re a cocky thru-hiker trying to shed grams).
Guthooks Guide for Android
(Note: Guthooks also offers stand-alone versions of the app for specific long trails, but since maps are purchased in-app and non-transferrable, it’s ideal to get the version that does multiple trails.
Trail Maps for Anywhere
You can download them and print them yourself. Sure they're not tyvek and waterproof, but don't knock it, they're cheap!
Trail Maps for the North East
New Jersey / New York Trail Conference
Pretty much what it sounds like, these maps cover a good chunk of hiking in New Jersey and Southern New York. This includes good portions of the Appalachain Trail, Bear Mountain State Park, Harriman State Park, The Catskills, and the Gunks to name a few. These maps are tip-top, printed on waterproof Tyvek. They are detailed and accurate and last forever. I've included the link to the NYNJTC website below, but you can also find these on Amazon and at outfitters.
Trail Maps for the Pacific Crest Trail
Four former thru hikers living near Bishop California put together a janky, but useful navigation app called Guthook Guides. Prior to 2018 Guthook managed several similar apps each purpose built for a specific trail. Due to a change in policy for iOS apps, they rolled all their navigation apps into a single wrapper and offer multiple in-app purchases to allow you to download the map sections and data you desire. In 2017, the complete PCT map set cost $39.99 USD. Be advised that while the Android version shares a similar name, each trail is an independent app and the features and UI are inexplicably different. The iOS version is noticeably nicer.
Halfmile received a grant to map the PCT and it's features in detail. These maps are available free of charge in PDF format. They're extremely useful if you're too poor to afford the Guthook app. I began my 2017 PCT Thru Hike with printouts of these on waterproof paper and eventually eliminated them preferring to just use Guthook. Mobile device versions with a lower resolution are available for download as well.
In addition to the PDF maps, Halfmile also maintains an Android and iOS app. I found the app to be of limited benefit. It will easily tell you where you are in relationship to the trail (distance and direction from it) but the route feature is only a squiggly line with no topographic information. I started using this app and very quickly changed to Guthook.
Halfmile Maps for Google Earth
Halfmile also supplies a KMZ format of their map data for import into Google Earth. I found this to be a superior planning tool as I was able to fly and zoom around the trail from above. I used it to learn the general lay of the land and to help me get an idea of which sections would be challenging, what terrain might be like, and to anticipate areas with great views where I would want to loiter for photos.