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Virtual Travel: How To Explore New Hiking Routes From Your Armchair

Spring is in the air! As the weather gets warmer and the spring flowers begin to blossom, there’s nothing better than getting out on the trail. However, as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic, most of us are stuck inside, unable to travel, and hiking is off the agenda.

But don’t despair. Just because you’re stuck in the house doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a taste of the great outdoors. You’ll find a whole host of fantastic online tools to allow you to slake your wanderlust from your sofa, and explore a wide range of new hiking trails across North America and rest of the world. Once the lockdown lifts you’ll be ready to get out into the wild and start exploring!

Here’s our list of the best digital resources for planning a hiking trip from the safety and comfort of your home.

Google Earth and Street View

Google Earth has long been a fascinating tool for those who wish to explore the globe at the click of a button, but now you’ll find a range of incredible resources for planning new hiking trips. Check out this list of US national parks, where you can explore every inch of the trail in any one of a number of remarkable natural spots. Using Google Earth, you can map the terrain and route for your hike, or switch to Street View in order to visualize your hike from a first-person perspective. 

If you’re dreaming of adventures even further afield, why not check out Google Treks, a Maps feature produced with the help of dedicated hikers who carried the Street View camera equipment with them along some of the world’s most iconic hiking routes. These virtual treks show off the scenery in incredible 360-degree detail, making you feel as though you’re right there out on the trail. Choose from a range of experiences, from Everest Base Camp to the Grand Canyon, and you’ll be able to imagine yourself hiking in some of the world’s most beautiful locations.

Go Wildlife Watching

Want to feel as though you are truly out in the wild? Check out some of the live wildlife webcams hosted by the National Park Service. These cameras, set up all across national parks in the United States, allow privileged access to some of the remarkable animals and birds found in these wild, natural spaces. You can expect to catch a glimpse of bears, wolves, birds of prey, and much, much more besides.

If that’s not enough, Parks Canada have their own list of wilderness webcams, offering a similar glimpse into what happens in the national parks when no one is watching. Don’t miss the archive footage of young wolves playing in the snow! This is a wonderful way to get inspired for you next post-lockdown hiking expedition, when hopefully you’ll have the opportunity to see some of these remarkable creatures in the wild.

Try Virtual Hiking

For a truly immersive virtual hiking experience, why not take a look at some of these incredible HD hiking videos? These stunning videos are the best way to get a feeling of what it’s like to be out on the trail, and cover some of the most popular hikes in national parks across the United States. You’ll find them immensely relaxing and soothing – the perfect way to escape the stress and panic of the pandemic!

Start Planning Your Next Hike

If these online tools have given you inspiration for your next adventure, then it’s time to start planning your post-lockdown hikes in detail. You’ll find a wide range of resources devoted to helping you get all the details of your trip just right, with a whole range of hiking trails to choose from. Use precise GPS trail maps to visualize your route in detail, check weather and trail conditions, and explore stunning photos of the beautiful natural spaces you’ll visit! You’ll also find difficulty ratings, elevation charts and plenty of insider hints to help you choose the perfect route. If you’re really, keen, you can even use one of these brilliant online mapping tools to create your own backcountry hiking routes with friends and family.

Even if you can’t leave your home right now, it’s still possible to dream of future outdoor adventures! Use these virtual hiking tips to scratch that travel itch until the trails open again.


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