Google treks across Deer Creek State Park

Published: Monday, May 13 2013 5:00 p.m. MDT

Google Trekker operator Andrew Gildehaus begins his hike along Deer Creek Monday, May 13, 2013, on the Deer Creek North trail. Google's Street View Trekker team is walking the trails, capturing 360-degree panoramic imagery of Deer Creek State Park.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

MIDWAY — Google Trekker operator Andrew Gildehaus strapped on a camera backpack to capture panoramic views of a Deer Creek trail Wednesday.

Just few hundred yards away, the white Google Maps Street View Hyundai was parked outside the trail head.

Google's new technology allows it to photograph areas where a car will not fit, such as on the 7.5-mile Deer Creek trail west of Deer Creek Reservoir, Google's Charlie Hale said.

The Deer Creek State Park street view images will be part of the 3,000 cities in more than 50 countries that Google has already captured. The 40-pound backpack holds a system of 15 cameras that take pictures every 2.5 seconds to capture a 360-degree view of the area.

Utah Lt. Gov. Greg Bell — in a white, collared shirt, brown slacks and a red baseball cap — wore the Google Trekker backpack as he talked about the exposure this project will bring to the 43 state parks throughout Utah.

"Hello? Why would you be anywhere else?" Bell said, motioning to Deer Creek Reservoir, abandoned railroad tracks, sagebrush steppe and Cottonwood trees surrounding the trail area behind him.

"We can talk about it. We can send out brochures, but for people to have a virtual view of the beauty, the grandeur, the feeling of spring moving into summer, the smooth water, the water skiing opportunities — I mean, somebody can just look at this and automatically know this is a cool place," Bell said.

The trail connects Wasatch Mountain State Park to Deer Creek State Park and is popular among local mountain bikers, hikers and equestrians, but not globally, Hale said. This project aims to change that.

"We believe that by building comprehensive accurate maps of state parks and other local gems, it encourages people to explore the world around them, encourages people to come check out these beautiful spots in person," Hale said. "It contributes to the local economy and economic development and is really a great way to highlight something that you all know is beautiful locally to the rest of the world."

Provo drew national attention with the Google Fiber announcement in mid-April, highlighting the city's future-minded outlook, Hale said. With Google Street View Trekker, the world will also be able to see the beauty Utah has to offer.

"We had to start somewhere," Hale said of the decision to map the areas surrounding Deer Creek State Park. "Our goal is to be as comprehensive as possible."

This hike was a follow up to the initial Grand Canyon Trekker hike that captured street view images of the national park.

Google does not yet know when the images from Monday's hike will be available.

Email: wevans@deseretnews.com

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