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Big Basin Redwoods State Park trail images on Google Maps!

Sequoia sempervirens

Coming in a few months!

Hikers in Big Basin Redwoods this week may see folks with VERY strange gear on their backs!

Volunteers from Sempervirens Fund, a nonprofit land-preservation group based in Los Altos, are hiking the park wearing 40-pound Google Trekker backpacks and capturing 360-degree panoramas of their hikes! The backpacks carry a metal sphere with 15 cameras over the heads of the hiker volunteers! The mapping is part of an effort by the Sempervirens Fund to “…draw more people to the park and to explore new opportunities technology can offer in the fields of nature education and land management.” The Santa Cruz Sentinel continues:

More information is key for those less familiar with parks so that they can better prepare for trips, said Mike Kahn, outreach manager of the Sempervirens Fund.

“People can check out trails beforehand if they’re going on a hike or a backpack trip — Is it steep? How many miles is it?” Kahn said. “They can look for shady or sunny campgrounds and at other facilities too.”

He also wants to bring the imagery into classrooms not only to teach students about the environment but to encourage them to visit parks as well. The maps also show potential use for helping land managers check on trails needing repairs and monitor the forest overall.

Maybe it’s just ME, but the FIRST use that came to my mind is to enable disabled folks who may NEVER be able to visit Big Basin Redwoods (established in 1902 as California’s FIRST State Park) to “virtually” hike the trails! What an incredible use of new technology! Just imagine! The technology is not only a boon to those with disabilities, but ALSO to thousands of aging Baby Boomers who (I know from personal experience 😉 ) are considering WHICH of the items on their “bucket lists” to strike through as no longer being realistic, achievable goals! (Pssst! This is something that many of the “kids” at Google are too young to appreciate… YET! 😉 )

As for the Sempervirens Fund:

Taking its name from the Latin word for redwood <coast redwood, Sequoia sempervirens, image above>, Sempervirens Fund has preserved more than 53 square miles of redwood land in the Santa Cruz Mountains since its founding in 1900. That’s when initial members first came together to protect the largest remaining area of old growth forest, which became Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

During the course of two weeks, Sempervirens Fund plans to map six trails totaling 60 miles, including Skyline-to-the-Sea. The iconic hike, which ranks among the Bay Area’s best, starts at Castle Rock State Parkand wanders downhill along diverse landscape to Waddell Beach.

Big Basin Redwoods trails are mapped for FREE using Google Trekker, which was first used in the Grand Canyon in 2012.

To date, Google has partnered with more than 200 organizations, including tourism boards, nonprofits, researchers and government agencies internationally. They collect images from hard-to-reach places to add to Google Maps.

With the California Department of Parks and Recreation, Google has put more than a dozen state parks on Google Maps. Many are in the San Francisco and Monterey bay areas.

ANOTHER possibility that just occurred to me is the ability to virtually “hike” these trails “together” over the Internet, with friends who are thousands of miles apart, all over the world, while communicating by voice or text at the same time.

Thanks, Google, for bringing us new tools that help us to use our imaginations in previously unexplored ways!

-Bill at

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