EveryTrail for Leaders

Fall Field Trip
I am a teacher.

One thing that teachers love more than anything besides chocolate and Starbucks coffee, is learning new things. This weekend I attended a technology conference sponsored by KernCUE. I came home feeling energized and a bit overwhelmed, but full new ideas.

Last year I contacted the Pacific Crest Trail Association to get lesson plans for teaching a unit on the PCT to middle schoolers. I was super pumped when they offered their assistance with an actual class visit, trail maintenance training, stickers, and brochures, but they had no formal curriculum to share. While on the trail this summer I had fun dreaming of what an opportunity this would be not only for the kids, the thru-hiking community, and the PCTA, but mostly for myself. How cool would it be to share what I love most to students while integrating science, math, technology, nutrition, reading, writing, and physical fitness? I have since struggled with how to plan, deliver, organize, and share the finished product. This conference gave me tangible and free ideas to make this happen and more importantly the motivation to get started. Yay.

Which brings me to my latest application for one of my favorite i Phone apps Everytrail. I have used the tracking and sharing app for a couple of years and have posted many a map from their site on this blog. Last week I led a short fall field trip for young kids. To prepare for the hike I walked the route a couple of days prior to scope out foliage, geography, and fall changes. This is a routine I have done for years before planned field trips, but this time I used EveryTrail’s GPS app during the pre-hike. EveryTrail tracked the route, distance, total elevation gain and loss, and time hiked. Periodically during the pre-hike I used the camera feature within the app to take photos for a visual reminder of what and where I wanted to stop and share with the kids. I even used some of the photos to identify plants when I got home.

EveryTrail takes the guess-work out of planning ahead for group trips with answers to how far, how hard, and how long. After using the app I realized how useful this tool would be for any leader planning a trip for a group, whether on trail, in the city, or at a museum. Users should be aware that while the phone app is running, it is using battery and is best used for day trips only.

So this got me thinking about the amazing hidden values i Phone apps may have that are not being used. Readers, do you have cool uses for apps that are helping you get outside? Please share.


  1. This sounds like such a cool project. How about a picture book for kids on hiking the PCT?
    Kids love grand adventures – it’s only when we grow up that we start to think things like that aren’t real possibilities.

  2. P.S. I know you like to make videos out of your photos/videos so you might find this site fun: http://animoto.com/. I like it for the variety of music they offer and it’s free 🙂

    • Hey at the conference I attended last weekend Animoto was one of the demonstrations. It is fast and fun. One application is to add a PowerPoint presentation into the online free program and it automatically makes a very snappy video. Thanks for the tip!

  3. Oh I have to try that app out! I just discovered RunKeeper and been testing it out on runs. I’ll have to try it out on hikes soon. What happens when you loose a GPS signal like when out hiking? Does the app just guess what route you could have taken or can you edit that gap later?

    • Good question. No cell signal needed. It just works off satellite with your phone GPS. Everytrail is like Topomaps. No need for cell service. That is the beauty and has NEVER failed me in 4 years of using both in the back-country.
      One word of caution. I found that if you have ear buds plugged into your phone, the satellite cannot get a fix on your location. Just unplug them. At least this was the case on my i Phone 4s. I just bought a 5 and will have to test it.

  4. We have a place on Oahu called Nature’s Conservancy that takes children on hikes and teaches them about plants and birds. It always brings a smile to my face to see kids out on the trails and learning.

    • Ahhh thank you for posting. I just visited your site and what a treat! Just think… I now can hike virtually in Hawaii. Such a contrast, but the same love for nature and stretching ourselves physically. Love it.

      I agree it is so refreshing getting kids excited about their natural surroundings. The hope is appreciation will ultimately result in respect and fight to preserve what they love.

  5. What a great idea. I could see using this to plan the outdoor painting/hiking excursion/ workshop I’ve been contemplating organizing. Trouble is, I’m still low tech and don’t have an iphone…hahaha. Another justification for getting one. Thanks for sharing!

    • Oh you so would love what an i Phone would do for your work and home life! Just the apps Evernote and Topomaps for me has changed what I can do and remember. In fact, my solo hiking ventures simply would not have been possible. Simple as that. Perfect for your painting excursions.

  6. This makes me wish I were back in the “good Old days” when I used to focus my teaching on science and agriculture. Those were the best days of my career. Good luck with this new venture. It sounds really cool.

    • Well mentor teacher you are to me all these years, you just gave me a great idea! I think a partnership in this venture is in order. I think all your years as an Ag in the Classroom Leader WILL bring expertise, depth and focus to this project. How about it partner?

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