The Apple Watch Ultra is good for hiking, but these 3 apps make it awesome

Woman checking watch during hike
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Apple Watch Ultra and Apple Watch Ultra 2 are fantastic for exploring the great outdoors, but before you lace up your best hiking boots or trail running shoes, it's worth grabbing some key apps to make sure you really get the most out of them.

Although their GPS tracking is excellent, and it comes with Apple Maps preinstalled (naturally), the Ultra and Ultra 2 don't come with any tools for creating and following routes. There's no way to import a GPX file natively, and no way to plot a course using the Fitness app on your iPhone. For a watch that's otherwise finely honed for hiking (down to a new compass and emergency siren), it's a strange omission.

Thankfully, the App Store has everything you need to fill the gap, and turn the Apple Watch Ultra into the hiking watch of your dreams.

Apple Watch Ultra and iPhone 14

(Image credit: Future)

1. Komoot

We've long been fans of Komoot – in fact the app took the prize for best navigation app in the Advnture 2022 Awards – and it makes a fantastic addition to the Apple Watch Ultra. The watch doesn't come with any way of planning our your own hikes and trail runs in advance, but with Komoot you can easily plot a course on your phone or computer, then get a map and directions right on your wrist. You can also download routes created by other Komoot users, and share your personal favorites.

All of Komoot's key features are free, but if you want to download maps to use in places with no mobile data connectivity, or get turn-by-turn directions, you'll need to pay a fee. Thankfully these are quite reasonable, particularly if you only need to unlock maps for one or two regions.

Download Komoot from the App Store

Apple Watch Ultra and iPhone 14

(Image credit: Future)

2. Strava

If you run or cycles regularly you'll probably already be familiar with Strava, but this hugely popular app now supports a huge range of off-road activities, including hiking, gravel biking, and mountain biking, In fact, the number of hikes uploaded to Strava doubled in the last two years.

If you want to create your own routes to sync to your phone and Apple Watch you'll need a Strava subscription. You can get a free 30-day trial to see if it works for you. Subscribers also get recommended trail routes with details like gradient and difficulty. You can download trail routes for use offline, too.

Download Strava from the App Store

Apple Watch Ultra and iPhone 14

(Image credit: Future)

3. AllTrails

AllTrails is a fantastic resource for hiking and trail running, letting you discover new routes, wherever you happen to find yourself. You can even to filter routes that are particularly well suited to hiking with a dog, or ones that are wheelchair accessible, and each one is accompanied by photos, details of waypoints, and even a weather report to help you prepare.

AllTrails is free to download and use on your iPhone, and you'll get basic tracking functionality on your Apple Watch, but to transfer maps to your Apple Watch Ultra you'll need to buy a subscription. There's a free seven-day trial available, so you can take it for a few test hikes and cancel before the first payment goes out if it doesn't suit your needs.

Download AllTrails from the App Store

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.