The National Park Service recently launched two new iHike virtual trail programs to promote physical activity and National Parks to students. Created in partnership with d’Vinci Interactive, iHikes on the Star Spangled Banner National Historic Trail in Maryland and in Badlands National Park in South Dakota are now available. iHikes on the National Mall in Washington, DC, and in Acadia National Park in Maine, and Glacier National Park in Montana already exist.
The WebRangers iHike Virtual Trails website encourages children of all ages (and adults) to get out and walk. It is part of the Department of the Interior’s Let’s Move Outside initiative, designed to get children moving and to help them discover that exercise is not a chore, but part of fun exploration of the out of doors. Steps taken in real life are logged on the iHike website and can be redeemed to hike any number of “virtual” National Park trails. The distance of each National Park trail was carefully calculated so users redeem their logged steps accurately.
In addition to hiking trails, users can set goals for the distance they’d like to achieve each day, and see how they are measuring up to that goal over time. Children can also share their progress on iHike with family, friends and teachers.
The system saves progress and allows users to resume their hike exactly where they left off. Secondary imagery from the real trail is displayed as people virtually walk along the route.
“The iHike programs are a great way to get people to increase their physical activity. While people often think technology and games are partly to blame for our increasingly inactive society, here’s a perfect example of how an educational game can promote physical fitness,” said d’Vinci Chief Operating Officer Mason Scuderi.
The iHike for Badlands National Park (4.5 miles or 10,608 steps) in S.D. features three trails that exist in the park: the Saddle Pass trail, the Castle Trail, and the Medicine Root trail. Users can get a taste of the variety of natural landscapes that the park has to offer including exotic rock formations and prairie plants and wildlife.
The Baltimore iHike (5.8 miles or 13,679 steps) is a slice of the longer Star-Spangled Banner Trail that stretches throughout the Chesapeake Bay Region in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C., and crosses a number of historical parks and sites. With Fort McHenry as the focus of this virtual trail, users can experience various cultural and historical sites in downtown Baltimore from the brick-laden walkways of Fells Point to the historic ships of the Inner Harbor to Federal Hill.
The iHike website launched in June 2012. For more information, visit http://www.nps.gov/webrangers/ihike/. WebRangers iHike is made possible through support from the National Park Foundation.