Trail View

Trail ViewI am going to be completely honest and say that Google Street View has left me fairly inept when it comes to using paper maps. If I can’t visualize my destination I never quite feel comfortable knowing where to go. I like to understand my route with a number of key landmarks as seen through Street View so I can mentally tick them off as I pass. This is more than likely just me, but there is no question that digital mapping has changed the way many of us navigate and travel.

As well as changing the way we use maps, the street level photography has spawned a number of incredibly cool and useful sites based around maps and mapping. Street View is no longer just a tool for navigation, it is a tool for exploration. This brings me to a breath-taking new site launched earlier in the month – Nature Valley Trail View is essentially Street View for three of the USA’s biggest national parks.

The Trail View website provides a visually stunning tour of 300 miles (482 km) of hiking paths in America’s most iconic national parks – Grand Canyon National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Yellowstone National Park. Nature Valley, chiefly a granola bar company, claims its site is the first to capture every step of each trail. More than a year in the making, the site gives you an opportunity to explore the wilderness from the comfort of your home as well as the opportunity to inspire young learners to get out and see the wonders of nature.

Trail View – Grand Canyon

Navigating much like Google Street View, you can travel step-by-step along trails, as well as hopping to highlight spots on the map.

Grand Canyon

 

Trail View – Great Smokies

A 360-degree camera was used to capture images, allowing users to “turn their head” and experience the panorama that each trail offers.

Great Smokies

 

Trail View – Yellowstone

In offering stunning views and photography the site can also act as an introductory platform for teaching and exposing students to mapping.

Yellowstone

 

With more and more of our Earth being mapped, photographed and recorded, the possibilities for exploring our world are endless. As a digital alternative to viewing slides, video or photos, I think the site is a very engaging way to introduce classes to mapping, nature and the outdoors. I also look forward to when it becomes simple for students to layer their own “Street View” images on to Google maps. This could create a fantastic platform for bringing maps down to very local level.

 

What do you think of the interactive Trail View? And how would you feel about hiking 300 miles with this kit attached to your back?.

 

Image courtesy of Flickr, Paul Fundenburg

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