Did you know you can hike Lunch Loop, as well as several other popular Western Colorado trails, all from the comfort of your own home? Here's how.

First things first: You should take the time to visit these trails in person. They are well maintained, offer excellent scenery, and put simply, are there for the using. In the event you aren't able to hike them on your own, here's a convenient alternative.

Did you know you can view these trails step by step, inch by inch, via your computer or phone? Check out Google Maps. Yes, Google Maps, the same tool you use when planning road trips or searching for a local address. Every photo in the gallery above came from Google Maps.

You've seen the car that drives around shooting images of streets. Well, there's a trail equivalent. In this case, it's a guy on a bike. This person made his way up and down several trails at Lunch Loop including Tabeguache and High Noon. The video quality is excellent. At times you'll see other cyclists and hikers, and every once in a while, you can even make out the trail markers.

Okay, so every once in a while you'll get a blurry spot in the image. No doubt you've seen these before when using the street view on Google Maps. It's a small price to pay for the convenience of hiking these trails from a La-Z-Boy.

To get started, simply log into Google and go to Maps. In the search field at the top left to type in Lunch Loop or the name of whatever trail you would like to hike. When the "Earth View" kicks in, look for the portion of the trail you would like to hike. Trails which have been photographed by Google Maps will turn blue when you hover the cursor over them. From this point, look at the bottom right corner of the screen. You'll see an icon representing a person (see red arrow in the photograph below). Grab this little person with your cursor, and then drag and drop them to the point in the trial where you would like to begin your hike. That's it.

Google Maps icon you'll need to start your hike
Google Maps

Take a hike! Using Google Maps is the next best thing to actually visiting the trail. It is also an effective way to map out your next hike. Sure, you can use my method and simply point yourself in a direction and start walking. It works, but it's also an easy way to get lost.

There are several other Western Colorado trails available for a virtual hike. Check out Lunch Loop and other popular trails from the comfort of your living room, or even from your laptop at the coffee shop, via Google Maps.

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