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Nature Valley Trail View redefines what it means to be an armchair adventurer. The website employs Google street-view technology to offer trail views of National Parks, like the Great Smoky Mountains, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon. "We're bringing the beauty of the parks to the masses, regardless of physical location," says Nature Valley's Scott Baldwin. "We hope to inspire others to get outside and enjoy the best that nature has to offer."
A tech firm called InTheMo Interactive brought the technology to Trail View. To produce the 360-degree imagery they used a Dodeca 2360 camera with 11 lenses. Teams alternated 15-day stretches on the trails. Up to a dozen people worked together to cover six to 13 miles per day and more than 300 miles last summer. Trails of varying lengths and abilities were mapped in each park, using geo-tags to flag points of interest along the way.
There were a few false starts, like attempting the Grand Canyon expedition too early in the summer. Lesson learned: The camera won't work in temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. But a routine emerged. Cameraman Brandon McClain would hoist a backpack carrying the camera mounted on a gimbal over his head. While he strolled solo, sweeper crews in front and behind would let people know what was underway. "One of the things we did notice was very little foot traffic on these trails," says Leslie Sims of McCann Erickson, the marketing firm that originally pitched the concept to Nature Valley. "We're hoping to bring a bit of luster back to these parks." —Olivia Dwyer
Visit naturevalleytrailview.com to test the tech and plan your next hike in these parks.