Google Maps makes Grand Canyon virtual trek

Google Maps opened a virtual path to the wonders of the Grand Canyon on Thursday by adding panoramic images gathered by hikers with Android-powered camera systems strapped to their backs.

"These beautiful, interactive images cover more than 75 miles (120 kilometers) of trails and surrounding roads," Google Maps product manager Ryan Falor said in a blog post.

"Take a walk down the narrow trails and exposed paths of the Grand Canyon: hike down the famous Bright Angel Trail, gaze out at the mighty Colorado River, and explore scenic overlooks in full 360- degrees."

The pictures were gathered by Google Maps team members who hiked the rocky terrain with 40-pound (18-kilogram) backpacks holding a camera system, "enduring temperature swings and a few muscle cramps along the way," Falor said.

People can view the photos when visiting online maps of the Grand Canyon.

Google's Street View team has been increasingly going off-road to gather pictures to show real scenes from places on maps.

Last year, Google Maps added pictures from Cambridge Bay in the Canadian Arctic and images from the Amazon rainforest in Brazil.

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