Hiking Project app/website helps you head for the hills

Sometimes it’s nice to escape the swelter of the city and head for the hills. A shady hike beside a cool mountain stream beats a steamy stroll down the city streets any day.

If you don’t know any good hiking trails or are just bored of your usual ones, Hiking Project is a useful app (for iOS and Android) and website that can make suggestions where to go. Best of all, it’s free from the fine folks at REI Coop.

The site and app describe thousands of trails around the country and the world. The routes are displayed on interactive maps that can be panned, zoomed and viewed in terrain or satellite modes. The maps can be downloaded to a mobile device so you can use them in the field even if you don’t have cell coverage. The app uses GPS to show you your current location and elevation on the trail.

Hiking Project is more than just maps. There are descriptions of the trails and their highlights. There’s also photo galleries of points of interest along the trails. An elevation profile tells you how high you’ll have to climb and how steep the grade is. Trails also are ranked for popularity and difficulty.

There are several ways to find trails. If you want to stay close to home, select your state in the Trail Directory or Trail Guide on the website, or download your state to the app. Markers on the state map indicate trails. You can zoom in on local trails to access more detailed information on them. There’s also a search function to look for specific trails. The Featured Hikes section highlights popular trails in various regions.

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