Sunday, November 6, 2011

Use satellite photos to plan your day hike

Satellite photo of Temperance River State Park
in northern Minnesota.
Sometimes a view from above that is rendered exactly as it would look from an airplane is useful. Thanks to Google and other online services, you can get fairly detailed pictures of the landscape. Such pictures are an excellent resource when researching a hiking trail.

Unfortunately, those pictures don’t label what a feature is or what it’s called, as would a topo map. Unless there’s a stream, determining if a feature is a canyon bottom or a ridgeline also can be difficult. Like topo maps, satellite photos (most of which were taken by old Russian spy satellites), can be out of date a few years. Google satellite photos aren’t in real time.

Read more about navigation when day hiking with children in the guidebook Hikes with Tykes.