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Updated Jan 31, 2013 - 1:45 pm

Google maps include trails at Grand Canyon

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. -- Google is giving people a way to virtually hike the Grand Canyon.

The search giant released images Thursday that map the most popular trails at the park's South Rim and other walkways.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company used a rosette of cameras mounted for the first time on a backpack to gather thousands of panoramic images last year.

The so-called trekker captured images every 2.5 seconds, showing the steep switchbacks of the Bright Angel Trail, the change from juniper trees to scrub brush and the Colorado River.

Google has said it wants to deploy the backpacks to other national parks and forests, and to ancient ruins and castles.

The company also has used tricycles, push carts and snowmobiles to map places where vehicles cannot travel.

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