The Walk The Distance feature makes working out fun for those who prefer to walk long distances

Walk The Distance is the type of app that will motivate a very specific type of person to get off the couch and get some exercise. Instead of making you walk to escape zombies or catch Pokemon, it actually lets you walk long trails like the Appalachian Trail (AT) and Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) – perfect for those of us who don’t mind our local hiking trails but wish for something a little more beautiful. .

For every mile you walk home, you’ll see a little icon with your picture moving along the map, winding its way between famous landmarks like Springer Mountain in Georgia or Kennedy Meadows at the base of the Sierra Nevada. And when you reach certain points, Walk The Distance will give you pictures and facts about them. It’s a bit like playing Oregon Trail, except that instead of sitting in front of the computer, you do some exercises. (It’s worth noting that there’s actually an official Oregon Trail app that does something similar if you’d rather take a more historic trek.)

I honestly went out and ran one evening so I could get to the next milestone.

In the time I used it, I enjoyed coming home from walking and looking at the app to roughly see what milestones I had. The descriptions he gives you are short and sweet, explaining things like the weather or the landscape of a particular location or touching on certain aspects of what it’s like to go on the road, but for me, the photography makes it worth checking out every time. I also found myself looking at a map ahead of time and planning how far my next hike would be – when I read the description of the Hawk Mountain Shelter which says the next stop is about seven miles away, I used AllTrails (another great app) to find an eight-mile hike nearby.

In theory, all of my short walks would add up to several thousand miles, and I would have completed the Walk The Distance version of AT. The app also offers a variety of short trips through many national parks and cities if you want to start with a less stressful goal.

Let me get this out of the way real quick now that I’ve seen a screenshot: I don’t think Walk The Distance is a nice looking app. In fact, I think it’s frankly a bit ugly. If you can get past that, though, the app’s functionality is pretty powerful – you can see where you’re on the road in relation to other users actually cruising through it, browse your walking history to see how many miles you’ve logged each day, and look back at Points of interest you have already experienced. There are also full backpack settings that let you customize a lot of the experience.

There’s also a social component to Walk The Distance, although I can’t say I’ve played with it that much. In addition to all users who publicly broadcast their progress, you can also add friends to walk with, and the app has a mode that just shows you where you and your friends are on the road. (If the developers are looking for some free advice, it shouldn’t be the Friends section, but rather the Trample section, after the trail and family combination used in the hiking community. Be a bit nice to go along with the fact that the app allows You can choose ‘track name’ instead of display name.)

I also – and can’t believe I’m saying it – appreciate the Walk The Distance pricing structure. It gives you a lot of flexibility in how you pay for the app or if you want to at all. You can do the first or second part of the big hikes for free and then pay to unlock the rest. Fully AT unlocking is $4.99, PCT unlocking is $9.99. A few national parks and city walking tours are free, while others cost $0.99 each.

Walk The Distance strongly encourages its users to donate to the associations that maintain and manage the tracks in real life, which I strongly agree with.

If you don’t want to pay for things in piecemeal, there’s a $2.99/month/$29.99/year subscription that lets you do all your walking for free and unlock syncing with Fitbit or Garmin. Syncing with Apple Health or Google Fit is free (and because I use another app to sync my Fitbit data to the Apple system, Walk The Distance picks this data directly).

So far, I haven’t gotten to the point where I need to start pushing; For AT, that happens about 155 miles away. When I do, I plan to at least buy this track. REI, an outdoor supply company, estimates that hiking the Appalachian Trail costs about $6,000, so I’m really going for it by doing it for five dollars.

Of course, the stimulation form of Walk The Distance won’t work for everyone because not everyone is a hiking nerd. For those that work for them, though, getting to the next virtual shelter could be just the motivation we need to get off the couch and get out a bit. Personally, I’m really looking forward to making some big progress on my virtual Appalachian Trail later this summer when I go out hiking part of the Pacific Crest Trail because that’s just the kind of thing I find very funny.

Walk The Distance is available for free on the App Store and Google Play Store.

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