If you haven’t seen the Terrain 360 bumper stickers riding around the Commonwealth, perhaps you’ve missed the latest breakthrough in trail technology. Terrain360.com brings users an interactive, virtual platform for navigating Virginia’s hiking trails and mountain biking trails, along with many of Virginia’s waterways and race terrain. Available on PCs and mobile devices, Terrain 360 allows users to explore Virginia’s trail systems from an entirely new perspective with 360 degree panoramic photography.
Where did the concept for Terrain 360 come from? Where all great ideas begin, with two icy cold beverages on a shipwrecked canoe in the upper James. As Ryan Abrahamsen and Ross Milby wandered aimlessly over train tracks and through overgrown brush hoping for a friendly face or clearing to guide them back to their release point in Scottsville, VA, an idea was spawned out of both necessity and wishful thinking.
“I was thinking it’d be cool if I could see the trails of the area on my phone,”Abrahamsen says. “We obviously have Google Maps to guide us in our cars, but that didn’t help much being lost in the woods.” Exploring other outdoor websites, online maps and apps, it was apparent that no such technology existed. And with that, Abrahamsen, Milby, and a third partner, Ryan Emmons, joined together to create a dynamic navigational trail technology which, just six months later, launched as Terrain360.com.
As nearly 100 trails have already been uploaded to the site, including the Buttermilk Trail, High Bridge State Park, First Landing State Park, Humpback Rocks Trails, and more, users are able to explore terrain at their own pace within one of three main regions of Virginia. Each trail page includes a summary, points of interest, trail sponsors, suggested gear and a user forum providing a voice for trail enthusiasts to share their own experiences or advice.
As Richmond natives and lovers of the outdoors, the Terrain 360 staff are all aware of the number of recreational activities available around the Commonwealth, and how the diversity of terrain facilitates the many options for outdoor recreation. “I love the outdoors, so I decided to do this to bring the outdoors to our community, to let them know what’s out there,” mentions Abrahamsen.
“We combined the concept of Google Street View with our own photography, and quickly learned that we could stitch trail photos together to create a panoramic tour,” says Milby. “We want users to be able to experience the trails from their own home, allowing them to better plan trips, navigate trails, hear about upcoming events, or get updates on various trail conditions.”
The team of developers continues to expand on the website’s usability, content, and features, and a new version of the site is expected to launch at the beginning of October that will surely have every couch potato ready to explore Virginia’s trails! Additionally, the official Terrain360 Mobile App will be available for download in January 2013. As Richmond’s outdoor community continues to gain momentum with the upcoming Richmond2015 races and the recent pursuits of the Capital Improvement Plan, Terrain360 aligns itself with similar objectives, hoping to ignite this underserved community with a new passion for outdoor adventure experiences.