Beware Tech: Lost In Google Maps

Google Maps began testing new shortcuts for directions to home and work. But it is less reliable providing an exact path in rural parts of the world.

That’s the message a colorful laminated sign tacked to a tree tries to warn those looking for the Canyon Creek trail head.

It’s not exactly clear from the photo where the trail head is located, but several searches in surfaced the location as being in California. The post goes on to talk about Ireland and how difficult Google Maps is to use in the country — since the directions provided by the location service are off.

The image uploaded to a Reddit post earned more than 1,800 comments. One Reddit user working for a national monument just off the main highway posts: “The amount of complaints we get from people lost after driving 3 hours on an unpaved road in the middle of nowhere because their GPS told them to go that way is alarming.”



Using the navigation and search features of mapping systems, for the most part, works well in crowed cities, but across rural areas, such as Wyoming or Montana, is another story.

One of the more dangerous scenarios can occur during the winter months, when the snow is deep and there is no warning on cellular mapping and navigation services like Google Maps, Bing Maps or Apple Maps to warn of gated un-passable roads, road closures, down trees or other hazardous conditions.

Living in Wyoming most of year, I can attest to the dangers and requirements of depending on location-mapping search services.

“Every year, a few people die where I live doing this,” posts a Montana resident. “They end up going 15 miles up a road that leads to nowhere, get stuck in snow and die. You wonder how someone can get off the interstate and not realize something is wrong.”

The poster points to a missing person’s case, in which a man from Illinois visiting Montana in April got lost. His Dodge Charger was found abandoned off the interstate by Reed Point. And while he didn’t drive 15 miles up a mountain road, Paul Baston from Batavia, Illinois still disappeared into thin air off the interstate in the middle of nowhere.

There are countless stories of failed mapping directions. Many say they will never trust Google again without consulting a real map.

Google isn’t the only mapping service with bad reviews. Apple also gets its fair share of complaints. As one poster explains looking for a nearby gas station with Apple maps, he found Chevron’s corporate office instead.



3 comments about "Beware Tech: Lost In Google Maps".
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  1. Paul Street from Numeris, July 9, 2018 at 2:26 p.m.

    My neighbour, north of Toronto, named the driveway of his rural property. Sure enough, it now appears as a road in Google Maps.

  2. Laurie Sullivan from lauriesullivan, July 9, 2018 at 2:35 p.m.

    Paul Street from Numeris, is your neighbor's driveway long? They don't name driveways here in Wyoming, but families do name nearby streets after their kids. 

  3. Nicholas Fiekowsky from (personal opinion), July 9, 2018 at 4:10 p.m.

    Earlier this summer I trusted Google about a "road" in Wellfleet, MA that looked like an interesting shortcut. Turned around when it was clear I would need a chain saw to continue. Hung up on a tree stump during exit. Fortunately it was only a 15- or 20-minute walk to reach usable cell signal.

    The tow driver who hellped me free the car grew up in the area. Said he remembered his dad driving the kids down the already-abandoned road in a jeep when he was young.

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