AllTrails Takes You Into Nature with Grace
A well-designed app has the potential to help us live more gracefully while being connected. The team at Gracefully shares the ones that we find bring greater ease to our lives. Have an app that helps you bring grace into your life? Share it with us!
By Brian Wesolowski
Often, when people need to recharge, think, or just escape, they take to the outdoors. There’s a reason that all those inspirational-quote posters have beautiful nature photography as their background. There’s also a reason we often use nature photos to illustrate graceful technology - they evoke calm, ease, and wellbeing.
The University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality & Healing has compiled research to show that nature heals, soothes, restores, and helps us connect. Some of the research the center highlights found that exposure to nature not only makes us feel better emotionally, but that it contributes to our physical wellbeing as well, both of which are essential to graceful living.
If you’re seeking to add more grace to your life, we fully support getting outside more. There are tons of fantastic apps geared towards improving your experience outdoors (check out Tom’s Guide’s favorite) and one that I’ve found particularly graceful is AllTrails.
AllTrails is a community-based app that brings together hikers from around the world to curate trail-guides, and allows users to filter potential hikes on a number of criteria, including difficulty, dog-friendliness, and kid-appropriateness. So what makes this app graceful? My husband is an avid user, and had this to say: “People who use the app are very honest on it. There’s no reason not to be. It’s all about helping the next person have a good experience and figuring out which trails will work for them.”
He also pointed out that while AllTrails is a for-profit app, its business model isn’t designed to maximize clicks or elevate paid-for reviews. Market forces don’t interrupt the community’s motives to look out for best interests of other hikers. There is a reasonable yearly subscription cost to the app - that’s it. The free version of the app does have ads, and the paid version ($30/year) does have quite a few more features, but both experiences allow you to save your favorite trails, access community insights, and connect with friends. An added bonus, of course, is that most trails one can hike are free.
Other features that bring grace to the AllTrails experience are: the overall confidence it can add to your hiking experience, the ability for users to connect with other hikers, and the ability to disconnect from data, yet still trace your progress via GPS. Yes, turn off that data so the emails don’t come through!
What outdoor-focused apps do you find most graceful? Which ones allow you to enjoy nature, while also not feeling tethered to your smartphone? We’d love to hear your recommendations and any stories of technology adding grace to your life.