How one trailblazer uses Maps to explore the outdoors
Lydia Kluge is an active member of the Google Maps Local Guides community, the everyday people passionate about sharing their experiences on Maps. In 2020, she added more than 1,100 contributions on Google Maps in the form of reviews, photos, and places. Coincidentally, Lydia also hiked, ran, and biked 1,100 miles last year. All those adventures earned her the well-deserved Expert Trailblazer and Expert Fact Finder badges on Google Maps.
But Lydia’s journey has been full of adventures long before 2020. Originally from England, Lydia landed in Utah in 2005 for what was meant to be a six-month stint as a ski instructor. She’s been there ever since after falling in love with (and on) the slopes where she met her now-husband.
Over the past fifteen years, the couple traveled to over 30 countries. Along the way, Lydia used Google Maps to find hidden gems — from the best restaurants in Paris to snorkeling spots in Australia.
In 2019, Lydia and her husband welcomed their beautiful baby girl into their family and couldn’t wait to travel with her. But COVID-19 changed their international jet-setting plans. Like many of us, Lydia’s spending more time closer to home. She’s explored Utah's mountains, deserts, and national and state parks. And, just like in her international travels, Google Maps has been her companion. She’s added and reviewed dozens of nature trails, trailheads, and parks, and created lists of family-friendly activities in Utah. “One thing I've missed about working outside of the home is how I can contribute to others and my community,” Lydia said. “Adding these things to Google Maps is a way I can give back.”
Here are Lydia’s tips on how to use Google Maps to explore natural attractions near you:
Find parks and hiking trails on Google MapsSearch outdoor terms like “hiking trails” or “parks near me” to find nearby treks. For most hiking trails, you’ll be able to find ratings, reviews and photos from other hikers. Some may also have useful details like open hours and phone numbers. You can also use the Lists feature on Google Maps to see curated recommendations, like Lydia’s Things to See and Do in St. George and Food and Fun in Park City. Simply search for a town and scroll down to see Featured Lists.
Use the search bar in Google Maps to find things to do, like hiking trails nearby or in a specific town or city
Quickly sort through reviews to find popular topics or search for specific wordsLydia leaves detailed reviews on parks and hikes with searchable terms like “family,” “steep,” or “kid-friendly.” Search for specific words to quickly sort through reviews and get a better sense of the place. If you want an idea of what most people are talking about, you can see a list of popular keywords in reviews — from “banana slug” and “poison ivy” to “parking lot” and “sunset.”
You can see what the popular topics are for hikes and places by seeing the most common keywords. Tap a topic to see what people are saying.
Preview your trek with photosLydia has left more than 3,500 photos on Google Maps that have been viewed more than 25 million times. To get a sense of what your outdoor trip will look like, browse photos that people like Lydia have uploaded. Sort photos to see the latest, pan through Street View and 360-degree images, and even see videos. Pay it forward to the next trekker and leave photos of what made your hike memorable.
A photo of the castle-like rock formations at Turret Arch in Moab, Utah.
Add and update hiking areas yourselfSome trails may not have traditional signage and could be hard to find. If you know where an unmarked (or poorly marked) trailhead is, you can confirm that the pin locations are in the appropriate spot. To do so, open your Google Maps app and navigate to the place. Tap “suggest an edit” to update information about the hiking area.
Lydia added Limber Pine Nature Trail to Google Maps