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The Buzz: Virtual hiking possible in California parks

Want to walk in the park?

Map app does it for you

Love nature but hate being outside? California has a solution.

Harnessing the power of technology, the California Department of Parks and Recreation has collaborated with Google Maps on a new tool that lets you explore California’s natural wonders without leaving home.

A pair of Google contractors ventured into nature this summer equipped with a camera pack that takes photos while the wearer walks. The images will be available for those who want a virtual tour – sort of like checking out someone’s house on Google Maps, but for the outdoors.

Google’s employees explored an array of popular parks, including Mount Tamalpais State Park and Angel Island State Park. Users can wander down paths like the the Shoreline Trail and the Devil’s Gulch Fire Road.

The state didn’t pay anything for the effort, parks department spokeswoman Vicky Waters said. She said the endeavor is designed to appeal to young Californians accustomed to experiencing the world via a screen.

“It’s an effort from the department to modernize the way we’re doing things and try and reach younger audiences,” Waters said.

Jeremy B. White

Worth repeating

“I support it fully. We just have to figure out how to do it responsibly.”

INCOMING SENATE PRESIDENT PRO TEM KEVIN DE LEÓN, on health care coverage for undocumented immigrants, at a Public Policy Institute of California luncheon.

Campaign Watch

Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday reported he has stockpiled $23.6 million for his re-election campaign, while rival Neel Kashkari continued to struggle financially, with less than $700,000 on hand. With a large lead in opinion polls, Brown has done almost no public campaigning for his re-election. He has spent just more than $400,000 – a relative pittance – on the effort since January.

David Siders