Mar 08, 2012 • By

Take a hike with Trail View

A bear that wandered onto a trail in the Great Smoky Mountains right in front of Geoff Guinta and stopped to eye him up probably saw the high-tech gear he was carrying and thought, “What the heck is he doing out here?”

“It was man and beast, it was great!” says Guinta.

Fortunately, that bear walked away.

What Guinta was doing was helping create a remarkable online experience for Nature Valley called Trail View.

We’re excited to report that it just launched at NatureValleyTrailView.com. Consider it Google Street View, but off road.

From last August to October, Guinta – a producer on the project for McCann Erickson New York – and a team of up to 12 people at times, trekked through three national parks, 15 days at a time.

One of the members of the group wore a heavy harness on his back to allow an 11-lens 360-degree camera to take all the sights in, step-by-step, for more than 300 miles within the parks at the Grand Canyon, the Great Smoky Mountains and Yellowstone.

Here’s the camera.

I’m blown away by the Trail View site and its interactive features and photography, especially the high-resolution shots at certain points on the trails.

Here’s a screen shot of one of the panoramic photos in the Grand Canyon.

Wow! It definitely makes me want to take a real hike in a national park this summer.

That’s exactly what Guinta and the Trail View crew hope you do, as he told me in this audio clip.

Leslie Sims, executive creative director at McCann, agrees.

“It would just be great to see Americans go back to these parks for their summer vacations again. That would feel like a real win,” Sims says. “It was such a fun production, and it’s been great to have the team so tenaciously following it through.”

While only a few hit the trails, the entire creative team working on Nature Valley Trail View in some capacity numbered around 150 people. They are from McCann Erickson New York, the agencies InTheMO and Your Majesty, and Backpacker magazine.

You can see the team in action on the trails in this behind-the-scenes video.

The team members that actually spent time in the three parks had to train beforehand – even if they were experienced hikers – logging dozens of miles of walking, running, biking and even swimming to get in shape for the trails.

The fact that the hard work was supported by Nature Valley makes perfect sense, continuing the brand’s partnership with the National Parks Conservation Association.

“We just thought it would be a very novel and unique way to try to preserve the parks digitally, even as we preserve them in real life,” says Scott Baldwin, marketing manager for Nature Valley.

In this video clip, Scott says Trail View will inspire people who view the site to visit the national parks and support them.

Nature Valley Trail View marks the first time that footage from a 360-degree backpack camera has been overlaid with in-depth national parks information to encourage exploration and education.

So, go check it out at NatureValleyTrailView.com!

To see how the Trail View site works and how you can use it to take a virtual hike, watch this video.

Editor’s note: For more information about Nature Valley Trail View and to learn about the project as it unfolded, read the Trail View team’s blog. You also can read articles about it in The New York Times and Fast Company magazine.