Trekking the trails: Noblesville Parks & Rec first in state to use Google mapping technology on trails, parks


By Sadie Hunter


Noblesville’s parks and recreation department is ready to further share what it has to offer – not just with the city or state, but with the rest of the nation and the world.

Using Google Trekker technology, staff of the Noblesville Parks & Recreation Dept. will be the first in the state to utilize it, soon giving virtual access to parks, trails, golf courses and downtown Noblesville to anyone with an internet connection.

The technology scales down the more commonly known Street View cars and vans and is worn as a backpack by the person hiking the trails and includes a camera that captures 360-degree imagery of the area surrounding the person wearing the backpack.

The panoramic imagery will then be uploaded to to be used in the Street View feature in Google Maps that allows users all over the world to view areas as if they’re walking down the street or trail.

Used by tourism boards, non-profits, government agencies, universities, research groups and more, the Trekker expands on what is often limited by the Street View cars and vans and maps areas that are sometimes only accessible by foot.

Treks have included gathering imagery of world attractions, like up-close and virtual experiences with the Eiffel Tower, Egyptian Pyramids of Giza, Grand Canyon, Mt. Everest base camp, Grand Canal in Venice, Kennedy Space Center and more.

“The use of the trekker allows our residents and guests a chance to view our city trails, parks and golf courses through Google Maps,” said Mike Hoffmeister, assistant director of Noblesville Parks & Rec. “With more knowledge of what our city offers, it may introduce people to new areas that they didn’t know existed or help them better plan an outing. We also will use it to advertise our trails and park system on our website and through social media.”

Hoffmeister said the department had the Google Trekker equipment in its possession from April 4 to 7, mapping someplace new each day.

“Having the Google Maps Trekker was a very cool opportunity for Noblesville Parks, and we were excited and honored to be the first ones in the state to try the new equipment,” said Noblesville Parks & Rec Director Brandon Bennett. “I believe this will be another tool to better inform our users of all the great opportunities we have in the City of Noblesville.”

The department used the equipment on-loan from the Indiana Parks & Recreation Association, who obtained the unit to share with other parks and rec departments across the state, free of charge.

“I am currently the past president of the Indiana Parks & Recreation Association, so I actively participated in the initial discussions with Google,” Hoffmeister said. “With Noblesville being so close to the IPRA office, it was the ideal place for our trial run with the Trekker unit.”

Approximately 30 miles overall were covered in Noblesville, including the paths and trails at Forest Park and surrounding trails, Dillon Park and surrounding trails, the Riverwalk, downtown Noblesville, Forest Park and Fox Prairie Golf Courses, Stony Creek Trail, Born Learning Trail, Hague Road Nature Haven and Potters Bridge Trail.

“The trekker weighed about 50 pounds, but by the end of the week it felt heavier,” Hoffmeister said. “And (we) received some goofy looks from people, but also had a lot of fun interacting with folks who would wave or give us a ‘thumbs up’ sign as we were hiking along.”

Hoffmeister said he believes within six months, after Google processes the images taken, Street View will be available for the areas trekked in the city.

“All faces and license plates will be blurred for privacy reasons,” he said.

From Noblesville, the Trekker will move on to the following areas and parks departments: Valparaiso, Town of Porter, South Bend, St. Joseph Co., Goshen, Fort Wayne, Huntington, Wabash, Logansport, Carmel, Danville, Plainfield, Vigo Co., Bloomington, Johnson Co., Clarksville and Huntingburg.

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Noblesville’s Treks

  • Forest Park/Forest Park Golf Course (701 Cicero Rd., Noblesville)
  • Dillon Park (6001 Edenshall Lane, Noblesville)
  • Riverwalk/Downtown Noblesville (1 Hamilton County Square, Noblesville)
  • Hague Road Nature Haven/Born Learning Trail (Ind. 38 and Hague Road intersection, Noblesville)
  • Potter’s Bridge Trail (19431 Allisonville Ave., Noblesville)
  • Fox Prairie Golf Course (8465 E. 196th St., Noblesville)

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