Nfld. & Labrador

Living room hike: Google and Nature Conservancy of Canada put N.L. trails online

A joint project between Google and the Nature Conservancy of Canada has put two Newfoundland and Labrador hiking trails online.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada hopes that partnering with Google to make trail views accessible online will encourage more people to get out hiking. (Google)

Google Street View isn't just for streets anymore.

A joint project between the tech giant and the Nature Conservancy of Canada has put hiking trails — including two spots in Newfoundland and Labrador — online, giving hikers the ability to get a virtual preview of their route before they even lace up their boots.

Megan Lafferty, a conservation biologist with the Nature Conservancy, told CBC that the group's staff has been working with Google for the past two years across the country to get some of their properties online.

"It's been a really cool partnership with Google," she said.

We hope to encourage people to come out and take a walk on our properties.- Megan Lafferty

Last summer, Google sent its Trekker — a 50-pound backpack camera worn by a hiker to get a 360-degree view — to Newfoundland to be used on trails in Maddox Cove and the Codroy Valley.

"They were chosen based on accessibility for the public and also the presence of the trail," she said. "We don't have as many properties here in this province as NCC does elsewhere across the country.

"These two happen to be ones that are really accessible for people to come check out, and by making these trails viewable online, we hope to encourage people to come out and take a walk on our properties."

Megan Lafferty straps on the Google Trekker in August 2016. (CBC)

Lafferty even strapped on the camera. A hiker herself, the weight of the Trekker wasn't a problem, but its height made it an interesting challenge.

"It was a really tall shape on your back, and when you went to duck under branches and stuff, you have to squat," she said.

'Big grin on my face'

"You can't bend down because you want to keep the camera upright. So it was definitely a different dimension than I'm used to while hiking along."

Much like using Google Street View to see roads in cities and towns, you can now view the trails from the comfort of your living room.

"There was a big grin on my face as I dragged the little dangling man over, dropped him there and started 'walking' along the trail," she said.