For those of you who do not live in the Northwoods, my use of Google Maps may not seem valuable, but make certain you give consideration on how you might be able to utilize the satellite or street view for your own locale. It is amazing how a "birds-eye" view can help you plan activities. Here are just three examples of my own research conducted using Google Maps during 2012.
- Before starting on a long bike ride in the country, understand which roads are dirt as opposed to paved. While you may be willing to bike on dirt roads, a 30 mile ride on loose gravel is challenging, and depending upon your bike's tires ... almost impossible. A quick check of Google Maps in the street view mode lets you plan routes in advance. Here is the intersection of Turtle Lake Road and Highway #6 near my cabin in northern Minnesota. I've actually biked this dirt road many times, but at least I knew what I was getting myself into the first time I took this route. (click to maximize any image)
- When planning a bike tour, it's nice to know how big the shoulder is on a given road. In this case you are looking at the Trans-Canada Highway as it winds its way through the Quetico-Superior just north of the US border. While you might expect the major highway across Canada to have wide shoulders, trip reports from other cyclings indicate otherwise. I've been hoping to ride from International Falls to Thunder Bay, but being on a bike when a logging truck goes by at 70 mph can be quite scarey. As you can see, the shoulder is very narrow on my planned route. While I have not ended my trip research with this one data point, I next need to understand how much traffic is on this section of highway. I'm willing to ride on roads without shoulders, but only if the traffic is very light. I ALWAYS check out the size of the shoulder relative to the amount of vehicle traffic before heading off on multi-day rides into regions I don't know.
- My last example is much more close to home. Using Google Maps I discovered a "phantom stone bridge" in the forest. I love to trail run in the Fall, but like to know in advance where my trails might lead. Research via Google Maps discovered this abandonned bridge which allows me to cross Lester River and thus complete a nice 5 mile loop.
In closing, give some consideration on how you might use the satellite and street view of Google Maps. Sometimes there are very nice ways to use a common web resource for personal benefit. Finally, if you're curious, here are the three spots in my research examples. Hopefully the expanded Google Maps view will give you a pespective on my region. The yellow "X's" show my research points.