Daydreaming about the summits you'll climb this summer? Google Earth has just added several new features to further inspire your desktop plotting, including aerial tours of most major peaks, elevation profiles, and quick links to related images.
First, if you haven't already done so, download and install the latest version of Google Earth
. It's free. Open it up and make sure the "Mountains" box in the Layers sidebar on the left hand side is checked (it's under the "Labels" category). Now head to whichever mountain or region interests you, either by flying and zooming around manually or entering your desired peak into the search box. A green, twin-peaked mountain icon appears on most prominent summits—click on it to open an embedded screen with information and options.
By far the most compelling option is a 360-degree aerial tour that allows you to fly around the peak, pausing at any point for closer inspection (such as Katahdin in Maine, pictured in the accompanying screen shot). You can also view an elevation profile for multiple cross-sections of the mountain, view a collection of photos from on and around the summit, and link directly to the mountain's Wikipedia page.
Almost every major summit in the Northeast is included in this new Mountains layer, delicious electronic fodder for peak-baggers eager to hit the trails this season.
” is an AMC Outdoors
blog, written by Matt Heid.