Google Maps will soon show National Park trails – but don't forget your compass

Woman using mobile phone on mountain hike
(Image credit: Getty)

A major update for Google Maps will make it much easier to explore trails in US National Parks. Not only will the mobile app show routes, it will also help you pick one that suits the experience and abilities of your group, and identify important facilities.

Google hasn't specified an exact launch date, but the new tools are due to roll out at some point later this month.

As the company explained in a blog post, the update will make it easier to quickly find trailheads, campgrounds, visitor centers, and other attractions. Search for a National Park and you'll see photos and descriptions of highlights such as famous locations and landmarks. You can tap these to see more pictures, plus videos and reviews from people who have visited recently so you know what to expect.

When you search for a trail in Google Maps, the app will highlight the entire route so you know exactly where it starts and ends, and which course it takes along the way. The app will also give you information from other explorers, which will help you determine whether it's suitable for your group.

Park entrances are highlighted on the map too, and whether you want to hike or cycle, the app will point you in the right direction.

Always have a backup

You can even download National Park maps to use offline, which is always a good idea in case you find yourself without cellular connectivity.

However, experts recommend that you never rely on anything with a battery (other than a flashlight) when hiking. Your phone could be lost, broken, stolen, or run out of charge. Always make sure you carry a map and compass, and know how to use them. See our guides how to use a compass, how to take a bearing, and how to read a map to get started.

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.