Walking Route Planners and Apps

Using Walking Maps on a Smartphone

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In This Article

Walking route planners let you map out the best walking routes. There are also great tricks you can use with Google Maps and the iOS Maps apps to get walking directions, or you can draw your own map with a "Google Map Pedometer" app.

These are some of the cool ways technology can make going on walks more fun, accessible, safe, health-focused, memorable, and motivating. Below we explore some of the best walking route websites and apps to help you find the best one for your needs.

Map and Measure

There are several online tools and apps you can use to map, track, and/or measure your route. They also make it easy to find and use routes that others have created and saved. Here are some longtime favorites.

G-Map Pedometer

The G-Map Pedometer was one of the original "Google Map Pedometer" sites letting you draw your route online. It's easy to use and you can save or print your routes or export them as .gpx files. You can switch between different styles of maps.

Besides Google street and satellite map views, they include choices for Open Street Maps, which emphasizes local knowledge, OpenCycle, which emphasizes bike and pedestrian routes, and U.S. Geological Survey maps which include contours and trails for hikers.

Plotaroute.com

This free online site can be used to map and measure a walking route, with many advanced features. You can use the app and print your map without a membership, or create an account to save and reuse maps.

They have a mobile-friendly site but do not have an app. Their choices of maps include Google street map, a street map with contours for hills, satellite, and Open Street Maps, which includes details for pedestrian paths and amenities such as public restrooms, parking, and restaurants.

MapMyWalk

Draw a walking route using this free online tool (registration required). You can zoom in on a map of the area and view it as a street map, a satellite map, or a topographic map.

As you draw the route, you see the total distance adding up, as well as the elevation lost and gained. You can save and print your maps and download them to your mobile device via the app (iOS or Android). This program also offers multiple fitness features, such as logging the miles you put on your sneakers, offering fitness challenges, and letting you track your meals.

WalkJogRun

You can use their free online tool or app for the iPhone or iPad to draw and measure a route, or find routes others have mapped. Registration is required after 10 routes. They also have an Apple Watch app.

ViaMichelin

This is another great option that lets you plan your route and/or explore its maps. The site also has functions that let you look for hotels, restaurants, and tourist sites along your chosen paths. You can also search for traffic issues and weather.

LiveTrekker

Photographic maps are the calling card of this interactive tracking app and website. You can add your own photos and notes as you progress along your route to create (and save) memories of your travels that can be shared with friends on social media or via email in real-time or later on.

Walking Directions

Using these tools for walking directions helps you plan ahead or walk confidently on the fly, taking the stress of out figuring out the best way to go so you can just enjoy walking.

Google Maps With Walking Directions

Google's mapping tool will suggest walking directions when you enter your start, intermediate, and end destinations. You can use the website or Google Maps app. This tool has been recently improved and suggests routes for walkers on bike/walk pedestrian trails as well as roadways.

The caveat is that there may not be sidewalks or pedestrian paths on suggested routes along roadways. However, you can zoom in with the Earth (satellite) view or down to the Street View to see if the streets suggested have a sidewalk or other pedestrian safety features. The distance between each turn and the total distance is noted. Directions printed alongside the map tell you which way to turn.

Using the Google Maps app, you can input the destination by text or via voice command by selecting the microphone icon and requesting "walking directions to 101 Main Street." You can get voice navigation as well as view the map directions.

iOS Maps App

The Maps app that is installed with iOS functions much as Google Maps does. Simply enter your start and end destinations and select Walk to have a suggested route and directions displayed. You can also simply ask Siri to give you walking directions and it will launch the results in the Maps app.

Use Them Like a Pro

Use these tips and tricks to find the best route for safety and a pleasant walk.

  • Satellite View and Street View: With an online or mobile walking route planner, use the satellite view and street view to look for street crossings with painted crossings or signals, sidewalks, and pedestrian paths separated from the roadway. You will also be able to see shade tree cover along the walking route.
  • Terrain or Topo View: The terrain or topographical view of an online or mobile walking route planner allows you to see hills, depressions, and other elevation changes. This is important to check out as a route that appears walkable may have steep or even hazardous terrain not apparent on a street map or satellite view.
  • Taking It With You: You can print out a map to have a hard copy, but most of these programs allow you to access your route in a mobile app as well. You can also track your route as you walk with the apps to save and modify it and use the route again. It's ideal to have both a hard copy and a route on your mobile phone. Having both keeps you from getting lost if your battery dies or you lose connectivity. Also, you may not have any connectivity at all in a remote area, while in a canyon, or in another cellular "dead zone."

Planning for a Group Walk

These mapping programs can also be utilized to plan a walk for your walking club or for a charity walk. First, consider how many people will be walking at once. Aim to choose a route that has wide enough sidewalks or paths for people to walk two-abreast and still allow faster walkers to pass slower walkers.

Also, be sure to look for safe street crossings that have crossing signals and painted crosswalks. For group events, you may want to keep turns to a minimum so that there are fewer places where people could miss a turn and get lost.

A Word From Verywell

Walking is one of the best ways to keep fit and engage with your environment, whether it's your neighborhood, a park, the forest, an unfamiliar part of town, or a new city. Safety risks are low and the health benefits are immense. With these mapping sites and apps you can explore with the confidence—so get walking.

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