VR App Made By Highschool Students Makes Hiking More Accessible

National Parks and recreation areas across the country are closing down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has swept across the globe, but now there is a way to experience the hikes virtually from the comfort of your own home.

VR Hike, a project that’s the brainchild of Michigan High School seniors Zak Miracle and Garrison Waugh, comes at just the right time to give homebound nature lovers a virtual taste of the great outdoors.

The site includes over 50 360 degree YouTube videos that can be watched either in-browser, phone or using a headset, letting you look around as you’re hiked through scenic natural views ranging from the snowy Mount Baldy in British Columbia to the Potato Chip Rock hike in San Diego.

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The pair told the Joplin Globe that they came up with the idea for VR Hike because of all the hikes that they had enjoyed themselves throughout the years, and thought about how people with disabilities are prevented from experiencing the nature they so enjoy.

“I was thinking about how many people will never get that experience in their life,” Waugh told the Joplin Globe. “They’ll never be able to get out and see the beauty and nature.”

The videos are made by propping a 360 degree camera on top of a specialized helmet, and then taking the hikes themselves. It’s not just their work that they feature on their site, however — they partnered with Treadmill TV and HikingGuy.com and combined all their video content to create a map of all the VR hikes available

The duo says they have plans to improve the quality of their videos by adding a gyroscope to the camera to keep the videos stable and level.

So, while nothing really compares to taking a hike through the great outdoors in person, anyone who is being kept cooped inside can at very least get a virtual taste of the kind of experiences that they are missing.

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