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Google Trekker Captures California State Parks

The latest Google team isn’t in Silicon Valley. You’re more likely to spot them wearing hiking boots and backpacks equipped with soccer ball-shaped technological contraptions.

by Maya Desai

Oct. 13, 2014—The latest Google team isn’t in Silicon Valley. You’re more likely to spot them wearing hiking boots and backpacks equipped with soccer ball-shaped technological contraptions. Confused? Don’t be. This is the new iteration of Google’s Street View concept. But instead of photographing streets, they’re hitting the trails of California state parks.

To bring Street View off-road, Google devised the Trekker—a 40-lb hiking backpack outfitted with a raised camera that takes 360-degree images. In July 2014, Google partnered with the California State Parks system to begin mapping park trails.

The first Trekker views of California state parks were released on Tuesday, Oct. 7. According to Cnet,, two hikers generated all the images, over the course of several months. From their computers, users can click through every step of the trail, scrolling up and down to view full panoramas of the trail and the scenery. For example, here is Point Lobos State Reserve as mapped by Google Trekker.

Google Trekker has taken images from 14 California State Parks, including Mt. Tamalpais, Henry Coe, and many coastal parks in the Big Sur region, such as Julia Pfeiffer Burns and Andrew Molera. So far, all parks are in northern California, but Google Trekker should be venturing south soon, according to CBS Local in Los Angeles.

This project might bring much-needed revenue to the State Parks system, as CBS Local writes. The Trekker collaboration, which is prominently featured on the California Department of Parks and Recreation website, might make the state parks more accessible to people considering a visit, according to John Laird, California's secretary for natural resources.

Google is a globe-trekker, going far beyond California. It has treks from the Grand Canyon, the Galápagos Islands, remote areas of northern Canada, the Taj Mahal, and more.

Humans are not the only trekkers, either. As the New York Post reported, Google has recently hired a camel to capture images from the Liwa desert in the United Arab Emirates. The camel’s name, according to theGuardian, is Raffia.

Google is interested in more collaborations beyond the California State Parks. According to Google Trekker, groups such as nonprofits, tourism boards, government agencies, and research groups can apply to borrow a Trekker and map out the trails they love.

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