Google Rolls Out Virtual Trail Maps for Skiers

It's a scenario familiar to any skier or snowboarder: You pull out your trusty paper trail map on a snowy, windy day, only to have it flap around, rip into pieces and succumb to the soggy bounds of your gloves.

Now, though, you may be able to spare yourself the struggle. The map mavens at Google this week rolled out their latest product, mobile trail maps of 38 resorts in the U.S. and Canada, complete with colored lines for trails -- green for beginner runs, blue for intermediate and black for experts -- along with lifts and the occasional Street View-like tour.

"We're constantly working to make Google Maps more comprehensive, accurate and useful for our users," said a company spokesperson via e-mail. "So when a few ski enthusiasts on the Google Maps team suggested we add information for ski runs and lifts to Google Maps, we didn't hesitate.

The maps, which cover major resorts from New England to the Sierras and Western Canada, are available for the iPhone and Android devices. They can also be accessed via computer, which can come in handy for pre-ski planning at home or in the condo.

That's a good thing because, let's face it, the average smartphone screen doesn't exactly provide an expansive view. The problem is exacerbated in Google Maps' traditional view, in which the trails resemble strands of string on a generic background, although activating satellite view brings up a lot more detail and topography.

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