Nicholas Eager

Navigating on the Trail

Having solid navigational skills is super important when you're out on a backcountry trail where there's no cell service. You don't want to get lost and have a bad time, so it's crucial to be able to navigate effectively.

Table of Contents

GPS Apps

Personally, I use for offline navigation. Because uses OpenStreetMap (a collaborative, open-source map of the world) as its data source, I find that the maps are very accurate. You can also import maps (from my website and others) quite easily so you can follow along with a route.

There are other map apps such as AllTrails, Gaia GPS, and Outdoor Active. These apps require a paid subscription to use most features. But said features are more advanced such as track recording, customizable maps, and others. Do your own research and find one that is best for you.

Downloading My Maps

If you decide to follow along with one of my routes, you can do so easily no matter which app you choose. You just need to download a file (.kml/.gpx) from one of the maps embeded on my website (i.e. my Three Passes Hike in Nepal or my Grand Canyon Hike in the US). Once you have the file downloaded, you can send it to yourself via email (or AirDrop for iOS devices) and open the file with or your device.

Google Map

Below is an example of a map that I might embed on my website. You can download the KML file by opening the map in full-screen (click on the ‘View Larger Map’ icon on the top right), and clicking the menu icon in the top left corner and select “Export to KML.”

Click to use the map

Sending the Map to Your Device

  1. Download the GPX or KML file to your device. This can be done by saving the file from an email, downloading it from a website, or transferring it from another device (i.e. AirDrop on iOS).
  2. Open the file on your device (by tapping the attachment in email, accepting the AirDrop, etc.)
  3. Share the file with by clicking the share icon and choosing
  4. Once opens, you should have the route as a new bookmark.

Please take into consideration that this process can be different based on your device and version.

Physical Maps and Compass

GPS apps can be really helpful, but don’t rely solely on technology. Batteries can die and things can go wrong, so it’s always smart to have a backup plan. That’s why having a physical map and compass, and knowing how to use them, is a must. And even if you do have a GPS app, it’s still great to have a good understanding of basic navigation techniques like determining direction and pacing.


Navigation on the trail is super important and can vary based on your needs and preferences. If you have some questions, please contact me :)