Review: The Great Trail App

(Updated Feb 2023)

As we head into summer, most Canadians will be spending a lot more time in the outdoors.  We are going to explore Canadian Outdoor and Travel Apps to find the ones that are worth downloading.

The first one we downloaded is The Great Trail App. To give a bit of background – The Great Trail* was formerly known as the Trans Canada Trail and has a network of trails across Canada connecting Canadians from coast to coast. The 24,000 kilometres of trail include the wild, the rural and the urban and can be accessed by waterways, roadways and footpaths.
*(Since writing this blog post, this organization has reverted back to its original name of the Trans Canada Trail.)

The Great Trail App

I have personal history working with the TCT, so was excited to download this app. I downloaded the Android version, but it is also available for Iphone users as well.

There are 3 different views – Map, Measure, and Tracker.

You can tap on a trail to learn more information. Not only can you see information on the length of that section of trail, but also what trail type, and what activities are allowed such as cross-country skiing, horseback riding, cycling, etc. You can also upload a photo of this trail for reference for other users.

You can tap on the map to drop pins on the trail to measure the distance in kms. This is really great for planning your hike ahead of time. Tip: Look for the “garbage can” icon to clear the pins, so that you can research another location on the trail.  (Call me old, but it took me a bit to figure this one out).  You can click to see more information, and it will show you the elevation changes throughout the chosen hike. This doesn’t matter so much to me in Ontario, but as you get into the Laurentian Mountains or the Rockies this is definitely valuable information to have.

You can track your distance, time, and elevation. The tracker worked great, but it is really manual. I had to type in the name of the trail location myself, rather than the app intuitively knowing where I was. Not only that, but I spelled a location wrong, and it doesn’t seem to allow me to go back in and edit. It only gives me the option to share or to delete that activity altogether.

In concept, I really like where this app is headed, but it does seem quite rudimentary and feels more like a Beta version rather than a live app. A good reminder though, is that The Great Trail is a Not-For-Profit, so a super slick app is probably not in their budget. You can donate to their cause on their website to help them fully connect from coast to coast to coast.

You can also visit the map on their website as well:

As I download other outdoor apps, I will be able to compare and revisit this blog post to give it a rating.  (The photo above was taken on the Caledon Trailway – a rural part of The Great Trail.)

PS. A call out to KEEN Canada who is a sponsor of The Great Trail App.

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