Imagine hiking an Arizona state park trail or visiting your campsite before you head out, giving you the chance to perfectly plan your hike or view your campsite. Arizona State Parks and Trails partnered with Google earlier this year to make that happen.
Arizona State Parks and Trails staff used the Google R7 Trekker Camera to capture 360 degree views of all state parks and more than 175 miles of trails in and connecting to the state parks across Arizona. The data is now live on Google Earth and Google Maps, enabling visitors to see trail conditions and plan the perfect hiking adventure or preview the beauty of a park before planning a weekend adventure. Use of the camera was free after the State Park management submitted a request and detailed information about which trails would be documented.
Over six weeks, park staff hiked more than 200 miles carrying the Trekker, which weighs 45 pounds and includes 15 individual lenses to capture a 360-degree view of each trail and park. The data will help visitors understand the difficulty of trails, topography, and what to expect to see along the route, as well as the accessibility of the trail and the layout of the park. The project also had the added value of identifying any trails in need of maintenance or repair in the park system.
Google has now processed and uploaded this park data to the existing Earth and Maps databases for free use by the public. The information can also afford people the opportunity to take a virtual tour of a trail without having to physically climb or travel. For a preview of Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park, a difficult trail to hike and an important memorial site, you can view the Google data here.
Here’s how to use the virtual tool:
1. Google a state park you’re interested in checking out. For this example, search Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park and click “maps.”
2. Zoom in on the park. You see the little yellow person in the bottom right of your screen? Click on it and drag to the trail. While dragging, the trail will illuminate in blue. Set the figure down and you have entered “street view” mode.
3. Your ground level point of view will include white arrows. Click on these arrows to follow the trail. You may also toggle your view in 360-degrees to check out the world around you.