Introduction to Google Earth
There are many 3D viewers around but Google has its own 3D Earth viewer named Google Earth. It is an excellent, easy to use and beautiful viewer. Combining DigitalGlobe®, other recent color imagery and even 3D buildings, Google Earth presents a fly-anywhere virtual world. You can selectively turn on infrastructure layers including roads, stores, schools, etc. Due to its requirements, Google Earth will only run on relatively new PCs with good video and a broadband internet connection. The free version is ultra cool (about a 10 MB download), but for $20 (annual subscription) you can get a “Plus” upgrade that allows you to add your own data or annotations, and it offers higher image resolution. The Plus version has now been discontinued.
Want to know more about a specific location? Dive right in -- Google Earth combines satellite imagery, maps and the power of Google Search to put the world's geographic information at your fingertips. The idea is simple. It's a globe that sits inside your PC. You point and zoom to anyplace on the planet that you want to explore. Satellite images and local facts zoom into view. Tap into Google search to show local points of interest and facts. Zoom to a specific address to check out an apartment or hotel. View driving directions and even fly along your route.
The flying at low altitude is breathtaking. It’s as if you yourself are in a small airplane flying at low altitude over the 3D terrain below. For example, take a flight north of Collingwood and out over the bay. If you have never flown over this area, you will be amazed at the beauty and the incredible number of lakes that come into view.
SetupTo start download the free version of Google earth here. To get the best fly-over effect you need to make some adjustments. Go to the Google menu and select Tools and then Options. This will bring up the Google Earth Options box. Select the View tab and select Large Detail Area, True Colour, Open GL, Labels=small, and most important set the Vertical Exaggeration to 3 to give the best 3D effect. The rest of the tabs you can leave at the default values.
To start find the entry box at the top right and enter N44.32573 W80.21132. This is the starting point of hikes L41 and L42 at the intersection of 12th & 13th Nottawasaga Side Road and Concession 10. Find the zoom control at the bottom and zoom out to get a clearer image. Scroll up a bit until you can see Highway 24 and 124. Now find the Adjust Tilt control at the bottom and click the lower control to gradually tilt the view. Now you can really see the 3D depth image that comes into view. You are looking at the deep gully of Devil’s Glen PP and the Mad River flowing through it. (See hikes L41 & L43). As you continue to tilt, the 3D view of the landscape becomes more striking. Continue tilting until you see the blue bay at the top of your screen. Now put the cursor in the shape of a hand in the centre of the screen and pull straight down with the cursor but very slightly to the left. You will begin to fly north over Collingwood and the bay. You can change direction, go faster or slower depending on the direction and speed of your cursor moves. Now fly anywhere you wish.
Topographic hiking maps
You can also download our track logs from each location on our torontohiking.com and unzip them. Then drag the unzipped .gpx file onto the Google Earth map, and presto, it will zoom in and show you the terrain for that hike. Try different tilts and magnifications to see the effect. Enjoy.
USING GOOGLE EARTH VIDEO: