The Best GPS App for Mushroom Hunting: Gaia GPS

More Than Just a Fancy Gadget

As Modern Foragers, we rely heavily on GPS technology. It goes way beyond getting un-lost! We want to know where we are, were we are going, and how to get back to the car at anytime. We need to navigate back to past hotspots and save newly found spots to our digital collection. We want to see satellite maps and high quality topo maps on big screens. We want to take photos and see last years photos. We want to know how far we have walked. We want to do all of this without a cell connection. When we get home, we want to interact with our data on our desktops.

Our new favorite solution for this is a GPS app for your phone: Gaia GPS with the Pro option. Last Summer we started using “Gaia GPS: Topo Maps and Hiking Trails.” As time went on, we used our Garmin GPS less frequently and have stopped using the other phone GPS apps (Onyx and TopoMaps+). Gaia is free to download on the app store, but it’s definitely worth an upgrade to the Gaia Pro system which is only $39 a year at

Here is a video that goes through its features:

10 Reasons we love Gaia GPS for Foraging

  1. Gaia GPS has an intuitive and easy interface on the phone that is a joy to use in the field. If you have ever used Garmin GPS, you will know what I mean when I say Joy!
  2. It has several favorite map layers we use for mushrooming (it seems to have hundreds of layers available), but, these five are typically better than Garmin maps!
    1. USFS 2016 Maps – probably our most used for day-to-day
    2. NatGeo Trails Illustrated – excellent maps!
    3. ESRI World Imagery Satellite Maps – high quality satellite imaging
    4. Gaia Topo Vector – Great topo maps when we really want to focus on topo
    5. World Shaded Relief – Makes your topo maps and satellite maps more 3D.  Love it!
  3. Maps can be downloaded ahead of time for use outside of cell phone range.
  4. Maps autosync to – We always have the maps we need.
  5. offers full admin and editing on all the maps, waypoints, tracks, etc. so you can manage your digital maps from your computer. It also has a handy organization structure that allows you to remove un-needed digital assets from your phone’s memory. All through a browser (err… sorry Garmin, Basecamp, or whatever you call your glitchy desktop software, sucks.)
  6. allows both Kristen and I to synch our data and mingle it, as every husband and wife foraging team desires!
  7. integrates with my iPhone’s excellent camera. I can see all the photos I took right in the app.
  8. It works on our iPad.
  9. At you can easily “print” your map… or, print to a pdf.  If you buy “Rite in the Rain All Weather Copier/Laser Printer” you can print it to weatherproof paper (we save it as a pdf and take it to the local copy shop to print on color laser printers, but, we provide the paper in 11×17 size). It is nice to have custom printed maps of your forage areas!
  10. You can import Modern Forager burn morel fire maps in as a separate layer!

2 Problems with Gaia GPS, Nothing is Perfect

  1. Phone GPS is not as reliable (in the deep forest for instance) nor as accurate (Garmin gets you within several feet). 
  2. It can run down your batteries. Plan ahead for this and employ battery saving methods.

Turns out, staying un-lost and ensuring you find your car at the end of your tired day is kind of fun. This $39 tool is well worth adding to your quiver. Put more mushrooms in that basket!

What do you think? Please comment below and share your own tips for a successful hunt! Check out our CA, OR, WA & ID morel burn maps if you are so inclined.

Showing 12 comments
  • Steve R

    I’m a hiker and gaiagps has replaced my garmin as well. Two quick notes:
    – you probably know this but In case you didnt: you can put your phones in airplane mode and gaiagps still works perfectly. Huge battery saver. That plus a small external usb battery for backup usually does the trick for me
    -I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ve heard that the external GPS receivers like the Bad Elf are much more accurate. Maybe worth the $100 to try them

    Good foraging!

    • Trent Blizzard

      Thanks Steve, good tips! I have been looking at that little bad elf GPS unit too… but haven’t pulled the trigger. I am struggling with the idea of yet another device on my person while in the woods. It is kinda love/hate thing with that stuff!

      • jbtcajun

        Would be nice to know functionality without the pro subscription.

  • Adriana Gutierrez

    Is there any mechanism to sortand display finds in specified timeframes?

    • Trent Blizzard

      Yes, but I think you would do that from your Desktop at In the app, select the Saved (folder icon) in the bottom. Then, in the upper left use the filter button to choose what you want to see (Waypoints for example). Then, in the upper right corner click the infinity more icon, and Sort By Date

  • Adriana Gutierrez

    I just downloaded the app and the detail that it provides. I coulld have used it yesterday!

    How do I mark finds and make notes? For example marking the date and location of those beautiful orange hedgehogs I found yesterday?

    • Trent Blizzard

      Adriana, when you are in the App, and standing next to your hedgies, just hit the little + button at the top of the screen and select “Add Waypoint (My Location)” – the date and location are automatically captured. You can add a title. Later on too, if you want you can add more information… I often clean them up on my desktop when I get home. Also, try the + and taking a picture instead! Sometimes a picture shows the scene better and helps you find it easier next year than a actual way point.

  • Kallinb

    I just downloaded the app and love it. Way easier than taking a million screenshots of the route I want. I saw you said you can import the modern forager map as another layer. I have tried to do this and don’t know how. I found on the GAIA up where to import. But on the modern forager map I see know options to save it directly to my phone. Any advice?

    • Trent Blizzard

      Kallinb – we make the KML files for the burns sold separately for $10. You can get them here but will have to be logged in as a member, first, to have access. The downloads are KML files and available by state. They will import into Gaia.

  • Dustin R Rapp

    If i leave a waypoint on a particular trek in real time, will the GPS track me so I can find same route down the mountain. Many times there are few game trails and a hike down said mountain can take me a half a mile zigzagging through brush to find a serviceable game trail. I am new to GPS

  • Christine

    What’s the best compass to get for a mushroom forager as a gift for my son?

  • Jim R

    Just wondering if anyone has tried “GPS Tracks Pro” and what their thoughts are on the differences. I know a lot of nature photographers use GPS Tracks Pro. I’ve downloaded the FREE versions of both Gaia and GPS Tracks Pro, but can’t decide which is better for me. They both look good from a novice’s perspective, and about the same cost.

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