Category Archives: Apps

End of Life for the Halfmile Pacific Crest Trail App

Halfmile Pacific Crest Trail app

Halfmile Pacific Crest Trail app

We are sad to announce the end of life for the Halfmile Pacific Crest Trail app effective March 15, 2019. We no longer have the resources to continue updating the app.

The Halfmile PCT app was one of the first PCT navigation apps when it was created in 2012 and has been downloaded by hikers more than 37,000 times. Unfortunately we have not been able to update the Halfmile PCT app since 2015.

Hikers will be able to download the Halfmile PCT App from the iPhone App Store or Google Play until March 15th. If the app is installed before then it will continue to work on your Smartphone. Keep in mind the Halfmile app has not been updated since 2015. It does not include data on the 2017 reroute in the Sierra Buttes (north of mile 1203 mileages will be off by 2.5 miles), some resupply information is no longer accurate, and at some point in the future (probably years from now) an update to your smart phone operating system may break the Halfmile app.


What about Halfmile’s PCT maps?
Halfmile PCT maps have been updated for the 2019 hiking season and are available for download now.

What about Halfmile’s PCT GPS data?
Halfmile’s PCT GPS data will continue to be regularly updated.

What PCT navigation app can I use instead of the Halfmile app?
Gaia GPS is our favorite GPS navigation app.
Pros: Powerful GPS navigation tool. Halfmile’s PCT GPS data is easily loaded into Gaia for offline use. Maps other than the PCT can be downloaded so you can navigate around large fire closures. Supports waypoint navigation for difficult situations (across miles of snow, for example).
Cons: Learning curve, especially for hikers unfamiliar with GPS navigation.

The Guthook Guides app is widely used by PCT thru-hikers. Guthook is more of a GPS-enabled trail guide but excellent for PCT hikers in most situations.
Pros: Easy downloading of trail data for offline use. Widely used by other PCT hikers. Useful information about town resources (accommodations, resupply, post offices, etc). Waypoint comments by other hikers can be very useful.
Cons: Gaia is more useful than Guthook in difficult navigation situations such as large areas of heavy snow or long reroutes around large fire closures. Guthook base maps show only a narrow area along the PCT.

Backcountry Navigator is another GPS navigation app popular with some Android smartphone users.

Philip at has a post comparing GPS-Enabled Trail Guide Apps vs General Purpose GPS Navigation Apps.

Gaia GPS reviews have been posted by PMags and Adventure Alan.

Notice to Hikers: Halfmile Smartphone Apps Will Not Be Updated For 2018

The Halfmile smartphone app showing Pacific Crest Trail information near Warner Springs, CA.

The Halfmile smartphone app showing Pacific Crest Trail information near Warner Springs, CA.

We have come to the unfortunate conclusion that the Halfmile Android and iPhone Apps will not be updated for the 2018 hiking season due to other commitments and lack of available time.

Halfmile Pacific Crest Trail Maps, GPS files, Google Earth Files, and Trail Notes have all been updated for 2018. Only the Smartphone Apps have not been updated. If hikers need to convert between 2015 mileages (still used by the Halfmile App) and 2018 mileages, a version of the Halfmile Trail Notes has been published that includes both 2015 and 2018 mileages.

What does this mean for 2018 Pacific Crest Trail hikers? Halfmile Smartphone Apps will continue to work, but hikers might notice:

  • Resupply and other information contained in the Halfmile Smartphone Apps may not be current and should be verified from other sources such as a phone call to the various locations or Halfmile Trail Notes.
  • The Sierra Buttes Reroute (starting near mile 1204), that was completed in the fall of 2017, is not included in the Halfmile app. This new route replaced about 4.4 miles of old trail with 6.9 miles of new trail.
  • Because the PCT is now 2.5 miles longer than the previous year, mileages in the Halfmile app north of about mile 1210 will be off by 2.5 miles.

  • Hikers needing an app that uses the latest Halfmile PCT data could consider Gaia GPS or other apps that import GPX files. It’s easy to import Halfmile data into these apps using the data at this web page.

    Halfmile data can be imported into the Gaia GPS or other smartphone apps.

    Halfmile data can be imported into the Gaia GPS or other smartphone apps.

    2018 Pacific Crest Trail Map Updates

    Pacific Crest Trail Maps, updated for 2018.

    Halfmile’s Pacific Crest Trail maps have been updated for the 2018 hiking season.

    The biggest changes for 2018 are in California Section M (in Northern California), where after several years of work, approximately 4.4 miles of old trail was replaced with 6.9 miles of new trail. This reroute increased the length of the PCT by 2.5 miles. The new route and mileages are shown on the new 2018 maps. Because of this, the Pacific Crest Trail is now 2.5 miles longer and the mileages north of PCT mile 1203 have increased by 2.5 miles. Mileage south of mile 1203 remain unchanged.

    Elevation profile pages have been improved for 2018 by squeezing more waypoints on the elevation charts.

    Halfmile’s Trail Notes have been updated for 2018 with the new mileage and now are available online.

    2018 Halfmile GPS and Google Earth files will be available in the next few days.

    The free Halfmile smartphone app will hopefully be updated in about a month. The app should auto update on your phone when a new version is available.

    Check the Halfmile What’s New Page and the Corrections and Updates Page for the latest information and corrections.



    Tracking Hikers With Google Earth

    Entering the latitude and longitude from a Delorme inReach satellite message in Google Earth with Halfmile data.

    Entering the latitude and longitude from a Delorme inReach satellite message in Google Earth with Halfmile data.

    Many Pacific Crest Trail hikers are using satellite messaging devices like the Delorme inReach or SPOT Messenger to communicate with friends and family. Using Halfmile Project data from and Google Earth can make these messages easier to understand for your followers back home.

    Halfmile data is available in several different forms — and the data matches exactly, no matter which form you are using. The data is available as follows:

    • Printable PCT maps
    • Android or iPhone Apps
    • Google Earth KML files
    • GPX files for loading into a GPS or third party Smartphone GPS app
    • Trail Notes

    A Halfmile point on the printable maps is the same in Google Earth or the Halfmile smartphone apps. If a satellite messenger sends latitude and longitude coordinates, these can easily be viewed by friends back home in Google Earth or simulated in the Halfmile smartphone app.

    Here are the steps to follow a hiker using a satellite message and Google Earth with Halfmile data:

      1. Download and install Google Earth.
      2. Download the Halfmile Google Earth KMZ file.
      3. Open the Halfmile KMZ file in Google Earth and save it to “My Places.”
      4. Expand the satellite message and note the latitude and longitude [see screen capture above].
      5. Enter the latitude and longitude in the Google Earth Search field [see screen capture above] and select the “Search” button.
      6. Google Earth will zoom to the location and show a marker [usually a pushpin] at your hiker’s location.
      7. If you have followed the steps correctly, the path of the Pacific Crest Trail and Halfmile waypoints will also be shown in Google Earth. It will be easy to see the location of your hiker in relation to these landmarks. In the screen capture above, the hiker is at a waypoint named WA2658, between PCT miles 2658 and 2658.5. You may need to expand the Google Earth “Time Sliders” to see all of the Halfmile waypoints.

    Halfmile data is updated each year, usually in January. For constancy, use the latest data. If you are using 2015 Halfmile maps, be sure to use the 2015 Google Earth or 2015 GPX files. If you are using other PCT information sources, the mileages may not match exactly.

    Note: A version of this blog post first appeared on the bog.

    Halfmile’s PCT App is on 10,631 Smartphones

    An Android phone running Halfmile's PCT app.

    An Android phone running Halfmile’s PCT app.

    We know a lot of hikers are using our Pacific Crest Trail app but the numbers are even surprising us.

    Halfmile’s PCT app is starting it’s fourth hiking season installed on more than 10,631 smartphones and we expect the numbers of hikers using the app to grow over the next few months.

    About two weeks ago Halfmile’s PCT app was updated for the 2015 hiking season and this gives us an opportunity to see how many times the app was recently updated and count how many smartphones it is currently installed on. Most smartphones update apps automatically when they have an internet connection.

    Halfmile’s PCT app is available free for both Apple iPhone and Google Android phones. Apple and Google report statistics somewhat differently, but here is what we know as of March 31st:

    • The iPhone version of the app was updated 5,620 times in the past two weeks.
    • The Android version of the app is reported by Google to currently have 5,011 active installs.

    Google provides more information than Apple about things such as the model of phone, Android OS version, and cell phone company used. We found the cell phone company information especially interesting. Here are the cell phone companies of our 5,011 Android phone users:

    Verizon 40%
    AT&T 16%
    T-Mobile 10%
    Sprint 8%
    US Cellular 1%
    Virgin Mobile 1%
    Aio 1%
    TELUS Mobility 1%
    Other 22%

    A minor revision to the Halfmile app is being released to address stability issues and correct a few of the waypoint descriptions. The Android update is available now, the iPhone update should be approved by Apple in about a week. We encourage hikers to always update to the latest version of the app.

    Alternatives to the PCTHYOH app

    We noticed recently that Ruffwork’s popular PCTHYOH app is no longer available from the Apple iTunes app store. The app was widely used by Pacific Crest Trail hikers to store Halfmile maps for offline viewing when cellular or wi-fi internet connections are not available.

    Sadly, Ruffwork passed away last year on April 17, 2014. We can only speculate, but possibly Ruffwork’s Apple Developer Membership has expired and this would caused the PCTHYOH app to no longer be available on the iTunes store. The PCTHYOH app should continue to function for hikers who have it installed on iPhones and it appears to still be available on the Android Google Play Store.

    Hikers looking for another way to view Halfmile maps on smartphones can use any .pdf reader app, such as Adobe Reader. Here are step by step instructions:

    Acrobat Reader in Apple iTunes store

    Adobe Reader in Apple iTunes app store.

    1) Start the App Store app on your iPhone and search for Adobe Reader. Install the Adobe Reader app.

    Finding a Halfmile map using the Safari app.

    Finding a Halfmile map using the Safari app.

    2) Launch the Safari app on your iphone and navigate to The .pdf map files on this web page are optimized for viewing on smartphones and are not compressed .zip files that would require a special app to uncompress them.

    3) Select a link to a map section and the map will load into Safari. You can view Halfmile maps in Safari, but only when you have a cellular or wi-fi internet connection.

    Using Safari to Open a Halfmile .pdf file in another iphone app.

    Using Safari to view a Halfmile .pdf file in another iphone app. Note the “Open in…” option that appears after tapping the map.

    4) Tap the map in Safari app and note the “Open in…” option.

    Apps available to open .pdf files will vary depending on what apps are installed on your iphone.

    Apps available to open .pdf files will vary depending on what apps are installed on your iphone.

    5) When you select “Open in…” you will find the option to open the Halfmile .pdf map with any iPhone apps that support .pdf files. Select “Open in Adobe Reader.”

    Viewing a Halfmile Map in Acrobat Reader.

    Viewing a Halfmile Map in Adobe Reader.

    6) The Halfmile .pdf map will be opened in Adobe Reader and stored for offline viewing.

    7) Repeat the steps for each map section you want to download to your smartphone.

    A library of Halfmile Maps available for offline viewing from the Acrobat Reader Documents menu.

    A library of Halfmile Maps available for offline viewing from the Adobe Reader Documents menu.

    8) You can see all the stored .pdf files in the Adobe Reader Documents menu option.

    It’s best to load maps in Adobe Reader when you have a wi-fi internet connection or a strong LTE cellular signal.

    Adobe Reader is a very useful app for hikers that will store and view any .pdf file such as Halfmile Maps, the PCT Water Report (use the links to .pdf format not .html format), bus schedules, instructions manuals, and many other documents.

    Halfmile Smartphone Apps Updated for 2015

    The Halfmile PCT app on an iPhone.

    The Halfmile PCT app on an iPhone.

    Halfmile Pacific Crest Trail iPhone and Android smartphone apps have been updated for the 2015 hiking season.

    Halfmile PCT apps are a companion to Halfmile’s 2015 printed map set to aid navigation. The app determines your location and, if on the PCT or one of its side trails, it calculates trail distances to over 3,000 PCT landmarks and displays any relevant trail notes. The app also calculates elevation gains and losses to landmarks and compass bearings and distance to landmarks. The IOS app includes a live trail diagram to aid navigation.

    Halfmile apps do not contain maps of the Pacific Crest Trail — think of them as a very accurate, location aware, digital PCT Data Book.

    Changes for 2015 include:

  • The app data is now synchronized with the official 2015 Halfmile maps and GPS data.
  • Over 1000 new PCT landmarks have been added for locations such as water sources, trail junctions, campsites, road crossings, etc.
  • Over 90% of the PCT track data has been replaced using much higher accuracy sources than before.
  • Compatibility with new smartphones and new operating systems.
  • Various small fixes and enhancements have been made to improve readability.
  • The Halfmile PCT app is available free at the iTunes Apps Store or Google Play.

    Since Halfmile’s PCT mileage estimates have changed for 2015, be sure not to mix and match 2014 and 2015 versions of PCT maps, apps, or GPS data.

    Waypoint Abbreviations



    We have been asked by several hikers about the abbreviations used for waypoint names on Halfmile Project PCT maps, apps, GPS data, and Google Earth files. Here is a list of the most common abbreviations:

    BB — Bear box or bear locker (mostly in the Sierra)
    CG — Campground
    CS — Campsite
    GT — Gate
    JMT — John Muir Trail
    Hwy — Highway crossing
    NF — National Forest boundary
    TH — Trailhead
    TR — Trail
    PL — Powerline
    PO — Post Office
    RD — Road crossings
    RR — Railroad track
    Ski — Ski lift
    Wild — Wilderness boundary
    WA — Possible water source (not on, mostly north of mile 700)
    WR — Possible water source listed in the PCT Water Report at
    WACS — Possible water source and campsite
    WRCS — Possible water source from the Water Report and campsite

    Curious which waypoint types are most commonly used? Here is a list from the new 2015 Halfmile Project data:

    3161 — total number of 2015 waypoints
    972 — WA waypoints
    745 — CS waypoints
    498 — TR waypoints
    466 — RD waypoints
    152 — WR waypoints
    73 — GT waypoints
    61 — Hwy waypoints
    54 — PL waypoints
    33 — Wild waypoints
    21 — CG waypoints
    16 — BB waypoints
    12 — TH waypoints
    8 — PO waypoints
    6 — NF waypoints
    6 — Ski waypoints