free offline maps for hiking

In South America early 2018 I quickly learned that most every tourist was using the free maps.me app every day.

I was using Google Maps offline.

Google has the best map data in the world.

Maps.me uses Open Street Map data.

Soon I was using both apps and comparing the results. Google Maps offline might be better but it’s far more complicated. You must define the exact square area you want to download. Files sizes are huge.

Maps.me does only one thing. And it does it well.

Opening the app in a new geographical area while on wifi results in one prompt asking if you want to download the maps for your current area. It’s dead easy.

Offline it uses GPS to pinpoint your location.

Surprisingly some hiking trails are included in the Open Street Map data.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

If interested, download the free Maps.me app to your mobile device. Browse the Maps.me support – Getting started.

 

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Ball Pass route, New Zealand

Some in New Zealand will tell you Ball Pass is … closed.

It’s possible. But tough. A route not a trail.

Halfway Anywhere posted a detailed trip description on how to pull it off yourself. In good weather.

Guide to Hiking Ball Pass Route in New Zealand

hiking Reflection Canyon, Utah

… The route is long, rough and remote — the trailhead from Escalante, Utah takes 2 to 3 hours to get to during periods of good weather — and you still have to navigate 8-9 miles off-trail through fully-exposed sand and sage brush, across slickrock, and up and down rutted desert ravines.

Don’t be fooled by the name either. This long, exposed hike is not really through a canyon …

Quick Facts

  • Distance: 16-18 miles out-and-back (26-29 km)
  • Days Needed: 2 days
  • Peak Elevation: 4,466 ft.
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 1,234 ft.
  • Best Travel Time: Late March to May and September to October
  • Permits: Required (see below)
  • Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult

Highlights

  • A stunning final vista
  • Beautiful sunrises and sunsets
  • Fabulous photo opps
  • Solitude, expect to see few other backpackers
  • Star-studded night sky
  • You can take your dog

Clever Hiker 

We’ve added Reflection Canyon to our list of best hikes in North America.

Cam Honan – Arthur Range Traverse, Tasmania

Cam Honan has hiked everything. Everywhere. But for me his most impressive trips have been his extreme Tasmania epics.

Floating rivers on his NeoAir mattress, for example.

For us mere mortals, he summarized his advice on a route called Arthur Range Traverse.

It’s only 48 miles (77km) but will take you 10-14 days, on average. With no resupply. You carry all that food on your back.

If not already decided there’s no way that sounds like fun, click through to …

Arthur Range Traverse Planning Guide

Nahuel Huapi Traverse – day 4

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles 

 Refugio Segre (Italia) to Bariloche

day 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | video | info page

After surviving day 3 I assumed day 4 would be a breeze. A stroll down to the lake.

No. ☹️

It’s very difficult and perhaps the most dangerous section of all.

It’s another early morning scramble to navigate along the far side of Laguna Negra. Some fixed ropes help on the downclimb.

Alone I was following the Lonely Planet route on my phone, increasingly distancing myself from all the day hikers heading a different direction up to a famed ridge lookout.

Very unsure, I changed heading and followed them up to a fantastic vista.

Tronador

Turns out there are at least 2 routes out of Laguna Negra. Almost nobody does the LP variation any more.

From the ridge it turned out I’d be the only one that day trying for Lopez hut and Bariloche. Everyone else decided to take the easy way down including the big guided hiking group.

I was feeling fit and healthy. The weather perfect. Again.

I had to go for it.

Next — what else — a scramble along another ridge.

The views were beautiful today. Prettiest yet.

I came to the long, painful scree descent to another green, boggy valley. I crawled under a scrub tree at the bottom just to get some shade.

The similarly long ascent is on large, loose, sharp frost shattered rock. Going up is dangerous. I met 2 Argentinians descending there. SUPER dangerous. The worst of many bad slopes.

It took me about 2 hours of steady climbing to finally gain the ridge. It wasn’t until this point that I was convinced I would make the Traverse. The lake looked very close.

This was my final pass. It’s all downhill from here.

How to descend? Both left and right looked possible, but neither was appealing.

Turns out the trail takes you directly over the top of the rocks blocking the route.

There’s Lopez hut way below. Hours below.

It’s all scrambling to get there.

This seasonal snow melt tarn is one of the water sources for the hut.

I was getting close to civilization, however.

Here’s a water catchment pond at the hut. Not looking potable.

I got bad vibes in every way from Lopez hut. It’s privately run. Avoid it if you can.

I had lunch. Then headed down a likely looking trail with an escort.

Turned out I’d chosen a disused path on the wrong side of the creek.

Once we crossed to the true right, I quickly found the main trail down.

It was about a 2 hour wait for the next bus to town.

Jumping off close to my hostel I ran into British friends who had just returned from a different hike. We enjoyed a big carne and red wine feast at a Parilla restaurant on the lake.

Celebration. 🍷

day 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | video | info page

 

Nahuel Huapi Traverse – day 3

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles 

Refugio San Martin (Jakob) to Refugio Segre (Italia)

day 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | video | info page

This is the BIG, BAD section.

Lonely Planet:

… harder and more hazardous …

… should not be attempted unless the weather is very good …

… crampons and an ice axe may be needed …

About an hour in I found myself crouched on the vertical wall here.

Lots of exposure. No clear markings for the easiest route up.

Should I quit and go back?

Happily a group of about 15 hikers arrived at just the right time. Their two guides knew the line.

Whew.

Aside from the risk of falling, it wasn’t that bad. We made it easily. Weather was perfect.

The guides suggested I follow them along the ridge.

I did. Until we got to the summit of a peak called Navidad 2060m. (Christmas)

After getting some directions on the descent, I went ahead. They were taking a long lunch.

Next came the impossibly long, slippery, scary, knee straining descent.

The only easy part was glissading on a couple of snow fields.

What a relief to finally reach the valley.

Life.

Unfortunately the valley section was endless too.

Some sections required bushwhacking and route finding.

At other times I had to boulder hop back and forth across the creek.

I finally saw some young people splashing in a river pool. They were departing Segre (Italia) and heading out down the valley.

They pointed me to one of the two steep paths upwards.

I was thrilled to finally reach the 300m spiralling switch back climb up to the Italia (Segre) hut. It seemed easy compared with the descent.

By the time they get there, most hikers have already decided NOT to take the high route on day 4 instead opting for the easier valley descent to the town of Colonia Suiza next morning.

The hut warden was a super guy. Very happy I had made the day safely.

Refugio Segre smelled great.

I went immediately for siesta.

Three hours later, at dusk, the group finally arrived. No injuries. But some of their people were very tired.

day 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | video | info page