Running and cycling enthusiasts used to be challenged to integrate their favorite outdoor activities into regular business travels. Today, thanks to a host of applications and websites run by enthusiasts who have explored nearly every inch of America’s great outdoors, it’s much easier to find the perfect spot to get some fresh air in your lungs.
Here are five highly ranked apps dedicated to getting you outdoors and on the move — even when you’re far away from home.
This widely used pair of apps is often the first digital tool people use when they begin training for an athletic event like a 10K or triathlon — each is equally helpful in planning a route when you’re in an unfamiliar environment. A simple search of the surrounding area (using key categories like “run,” “hike,” “bike ride”) yields a detailed listing of the routes fellow app users have completed, with data on distance, elevation, detours and time.
A date stamp on each entry lets you know how recently each one was completed, which is especially helpful in urban areas where construction or other factors could affect your choice of path.
Available on iOS and Android – Free with option for upgrade
Used by some 3 million people, this app contains a treasure trove of more than 50,000 trails documented by crowd-sourced reviews and photos. Once you’ve searched your location and selected a route, a simple interface tells you where to go while recording your speed, time and elevation. An upgraded version brings you fast downloads of custom maps you can use offline when you’re out of range.
Available on iOS and Android – Free with option for $29.99 unlimited access
For travelers who want to get away from the beaten path and experience the tranquility of nature without a ton of advance planning, this app offers a free, searchable database of trails across the United States; downloadable maps are available for about $1 each. The premium subscription, which costs $29.99 for one year, offers unlimited downloads, so is best-suited to the frequent user.
Proceeds benefit the app’s sponsor, a so-called “rails-to-trails” nonprofit group that works to convert former rail lines into trails, transforming forgotten places into public spaces and helping people spend more time outdoors.
Available on iOS – Free
Less a way-finding app and more a discovery tool, this app uncovers the places and spaces you might otherwise miss when spending time in a new city. From public parks and swimming holes to nature walks and hike-and-bike paths, it ranks each site for difficulty and gives users an idea of how long it takes to experience — whether it’s a 20-minute run between meetings or a half-day hike when your flight gets canceled.