Tips & Tricks: Make the most of walking directions

Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 11:55 AM


As a city-dweller who loves getting around on on two feet, I was really excited when walking directions became available on Google Maps. In the year since then, having pounded the pavement in six different cities, I've used walking directions to map everything, from  mad dashes to make appointments on time, to laid-back Sunday afternoon strolls. Haven't tried it out yet? Follow the instructions here. Then, check out these tips to walk smarter:

Turn on the Terrain layer.
If you've ever found yourself in a city with more hills than most, you'll know that a steep incline can turn a pleasant walk into an athletic event. Click 'Terrain' in the top right corner of the map to assess the elevation of the area you're looking at. It can help you decide what routes to avoid, and tip you off to some of your city's highest spots -- and best views

Take the scenic route with Street View. 
Street View can help you hone your walking directions by allowing you to get a pedestrian's eye view of your route ahead of time. Simply drag the "Pegman" icon (it will be orange where Street View is available) to a point on the map, and you'll see street-level imagery of that place. Navigate using the arrow keys on your keyboard, or pick a different spot by dragging Pegman again in the overview map in the bottom right corner of the image. It's a great way to get an up-close look at the route you'll be treading.

Customize your directions.
Make walking directions your own by adjusting them just the way you want. Maybe you're looking to avoid a hill, or take a detour along a particularly pretty street you saw in Street View. Either way, customizing your route is easy. Simply click any point along the purple directions line and drag it to any location on the map. Google Maps immediately recreates the directions in both the map, and the written description in the left panel.