You’ve come to rely on Google Maps to nav­i­gate the city streets.  Start­ing in Feb­ru­ary 2013, they’re going to help you find your way down the slopes. And they’ve already unveiled 38 new trail maps of ski resorts.

Ski hills through­out the nation are join­ing on, and soon the ubiq­ui­tous smart phones will become com­mon­place on the moun­tain. In the gon­do­la, on the lift, or stand­ing by a trail sign, lost souls will be fin­ger pet­ting their phones to find their most desired route down.

Is it nec­es­sary, you may ask?

James Niehues Ver­sion of Squaw Valley

The cur­rent ver­sion of Google Maps ski resorts pales in com­par­i­son to James Niehues beau­ti­ful­ly ren­dered trail map illus­tra­tions. If you’re not famil­iar with Niehues’ work, take a care­ful look at the snowy trees on vir­tu­al­ly any ski resorts’ trail map. Niehues has illus­trat­ed over 300 resorts through­out the world.

Google Maps Ver­sion of Squaw Valley

Google’s ver­sion is not quite an inter­ac­tive work of art, yet. You’ll find that the runs are col­or cod­ed to demar­cate their dif­fi­cul­ty, and the ski lifts are shown as red dot­ted lines. Nav­i­ga­tion func­tions like how Google Maps works on the city streets. You click the arrows to move for­ward or back­ward, and on some of the most pop­u­lar runs, there is the “Street View” fea­ture that allows you to look at pho­tos from cer­tain locations.

Giv­en the pop­u­lar­i­ty of their street maps, Google’s ski trail maps seem des­tined for suc­cess. But what do you think: Do you want to rely on your smart­phone while you ski?