Listen up trekkers, backpackers, and thru-hikers, Backpacker magazine has a new tool that you might be interested in, particularly if you plan on walking the Appalachian Trail. The recently launched 3D map of the entire route of this iconic trail puts a host of great information at our fingertips, giving us new ways to explore this amazing path without ever leaving home.
The 3D map, which can be found here, covers the entire 2190 mile (3524 km) length of the AT. That alone makes it a lot of fun to play with, as you take a virtual stroll along the hills and mountains that make up the route. But, Backpacker has backed in a few other nice features as well, including the ability to check out individual segments of the trail by state, visit points of interest along its meandering course, and discover some of the favorite hot spots amongst thru-hikers. These appear as pop-ups along the way, providing photos and information of what hikers can expect to find at a particular location. Those who have trekked the trial in the past can even share their favorite locales, which the Backpacker staff promises to add to the map over time.
The virtual tour of the trail begins at the southern terminus on Springer Mountain in Georgia and continues all the way north to Katahdin in Maine. In between you’ll find every climb, descent, and bend in the trail, all brought to life on a 3D map that thru-hikers will likely find very useful. Using a mouse or touch pad, users can scroll along the trail, rotate it in any direction, and pan the virtual camera up and down too. Shelters and campsites are denoted by yellow markers along the way, while red pins include photos and text describing important waypoints or locations that hikers will encounter along the way. There are even a handful of pink heart pins that include some places that hold special meaning to others as well.
I’ve been having a good time playing with this 3D map and exploring everything that can be found on it. This is a great resource and a testament to the technology we now have at our fingertips too. Hopefully Backpacker will roll this out to some of the other big trails in the U.S., like the PCT or the CDT. I’m sure creating a map like this takes some serious resources, but it would be an ice addition to have for sure.
Check out the AT in 3D here.