Walk the Distance App: A Virtual Tour of the AT Fueled by Your Steps

Many people try to stay active in their day-to-day lives. When I am not thru-hiking or spending my summers active and adventuring, I find it easy to fall into a sedentary routine. I try to stay active, and tracking my activities helps remind me that I am in fact doing something.

Many people I know aim for a certain amount of steps in one day. The average person aims for 10,000 steps, but most only log around 4,000 on average. To be considered active by livestrong.com you must log over 10,000 steps per day, but some days it is really hard to get myself off the couch… probably not an uncommon sentiment.

If you’re perusing the articles on The Trek, you probably know what the Appalachian Trail is. Chances are you also have aspirations to someday hike the AT, either as a thru-hiker or a section hiker. Unfortunately you may also have health issues, a mortgage, or young children at home and the AT is just a dream, at least for now.

No matter the barrier, sometimes thru-hiking cannot really be a reality, but that doesn’t mean you can’t travel those miles along that blazed trail from Georgia to Maine. That’s where Walk the Distance can help you feel like you’re trekking along the trail we all know and love.

I had the pleasure to speak with app creator John Zaccone, and he was so passionate about creating something that everyone can use to experience the Appalachian Trail. We talked about how people had reached out to him with hopes of hiking the trail, but those dreams were cut short by illness or physical limitations that no amount of willpower could change. It was my pleasure to give this app a test recent test.

What Is Walk the Distance?

The categories screen where you can choose where to log your mileage.

Walk the Distance is an app that tracks your walking and running activities and uses those steps to coordinate your mileage with mileage along the AT. In essence, you’re walking the Appalachian Trail with every step you take, tracking the distance with a fitness device or the Apple Health app.

This app doesn’t just offer you a chance to walk the Appalachian Trail—you can do well-known marathons, state parks, and city tours. You simply choose where you’d like to virtually visit, and click, you’re there. Each step goes toward your new goal, all from the comfort of your current reality.

How Does the App Work?

The great thing about this app is that it is REALLY easy to use. The app links to the health app in your smartphone and tracks your activity. It then applies your distance traveled to miles traveled on the AT. All you have to do it log in, allow permissions from Walk the Distance, and see how far you’ve gone. Within a few minutes of my day hike, I had traveled over half a mile on the Appalachian Trail.

Who Can Use This?

Here I was able to see my distance on the map. I was also able to toggle on/off other users to see where they were too

At this point, Walk the Distance is available for iPhone users through the Health app. The Health app uses a built-in pedometer in the iPhone to track walking steps, but users can also utilize fitness trackers and apps such as Garmin and Fitbit by syncing them to Apple’s Health app (FitBit does require a second step, as described in the app FAQ). Not to fret, Android users—Walk the Distance will be available for Android in 2020.


Now that we know that almost everyone can use this app—and everyone will be able to in the new year—let’s talk about how you can use it. This app can be used as motivation to see how far your daily walking can get you on your virtual tour. You can use it to challenge yourself to meet your goals and have fun along the way. You can use it to compete with your friends. OK, maybe not compete, unless that’s your thing. However, you can use it to hold each other accountable and see your friends’ progress.

As you’ll see, the landmark sticker leads to a photo and information about the landmark.

Having used this app during day hikes, as well as neighborhood walks with my pup, it was fun to relive some of my early days on the Appalachian Trail. I loved getting to click on the pictures of different landmarks. To make it more realistic, you cannot view the landmark photos until you’ve “reached” that spot. It is as it would be if you were actually hiking along the AT.


Springer Mountain, the Southern Terminus of the Appalachian Trail, was one of the first landmarks I came across.

Walk the Distance is fun and easy to use. If you’re into walking/tracking steps and long distance hiking, this is right up your alley and comes with the added benefit of virtual interactions with iconic Appalachian Trail landmarks.

Here’s a video of how to use and navigate the app:

Download Walk the Distance for Apple Users Here

This is a sponsored post brought to you by Walk the Distance.

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Comments 7

  • Jacob Myers : Nov 6th

    I love this so much. Definitely cool to have people back home follow along

  • Adrian redgwell : Apr 16th

    I need this for android.

  • Christine Meier Smith : May 21st

    When in 2020 will this app be available for Android?

  • KimBurgess : May 30th

    I love the competative aspect of this app. When in 2020 will it be available for android phones. My friends and I used to use the app “Walking with attitude” which was similar, though animated. We found it very motivating and fun, but it is no longer available. We are impatiently awaiting for the android version of this app. Oh! It says you can hook up your garmin wearable, how do you do this? Thank you!

  • Lillie Dearman : Jul 16th

    How do I sync my Fitbit Inspire

  • mitch smith : Dec 30th

    I have just downloaded the app a few days ago, and already have about 24 miles on it, but how do I share my efforts to FB or Instagram? And is there a way to get a bigger map to show my progress?

    • 3 Sticks : Mar 6th

      This is the best way to Black Blaze (hike virtuality vs. actually following the White Blazes) the A.T.!


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