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Google Maps Announces “Mud Mode” for Mud Season Driving Navigation

Mud season in Vermont

Google Maps announced today that it will add a new mud-mode to its industry-leading navigation app so that drivers can bypass muddy unpaved roads when navigating through rural areas. With this new feature, drivers will be able to filter out driving directions that route them down the soft and muddy unpaved roads that occur when snowmelt and spring runoff turn them into slippery quagmires. The new mud-mode feature will also be available in the Google Maps app year-round so drivers can filter out all dirt and unpaved roads from driving directions if they choose.

Until now, Google Maps was unable to differentiate between paved and unpaved roads, treating the two as equivalent when it computed driving directions. But anyone who’s lived in Vermont, Montana, or states where unpaved dirt and gravel roads outnumber paved ones will tell you that this was a gross miscalculation on Google’s Maps quest to rule the road as the United States #1 driving navigation app, let alone in the world.

“I can’t tell you how many times Google Maps has directed me down dirt roads in the middle of nowhere when they’re slick, soft, and waterlogged during mud season,” says Kato Zimmerman, of Starksboro, Vermont. The last thing I want is to sink to the axles when the road has turned into a mud pit in April. Most drivers know to use paper maps that depict road type and surface for getting around in Vermont instead of Google Maps, but this new mud mode feature will probably change that.”

This new Mud Mode capability, namely the ability to differentiate between paved and unpaved roads, was achieved by using AI technology developed by Google Labs and satellite imagery. It was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which wanted it for road navigation in Eastern Europe and other conflict zones, where muddy roads frequently delay the movement of heavy equipment.

April Fools!

For more April Fool’s silliness:

  1. AllTrails Announces Trail GPT, a Trail Curation App
  2. Darn Tough Announces “ReFluff” Sock Revitalization Service
  3. Mountain House Spins Off New Dog House Foods Subsidiary and Canine Product Line
  4. Outdoor Industry Association Announces New Backpack Volume Standard
  5. RBG Takes Leave of Absence from the Supreme Court to Hike the Appalachian Trail
  6. Appalachian Mountain Club to Build Underground Parking Garage in Crawford Notch
  7. Ski Tuckerman Ravine with the new Tuckerman Taxi
  8. Maine Appalachian Trail Club Replaces Kennebec Ferry with New Zipline River Crossing Service
  9. Appalachian Trail Conservancy and Google Express Launch Air-Drop Airborne Drone Resupply Service on Appalachian Trail
  10. Jetboil Announces Breakthrough BioBoil Camping Stove and Power Recharging Products
  11. Klymit Revolutionizes Lightweight Backpacking with Gas-Filled Universal Load Lifters
  12. Gossamer Gear Announces iGorilla Backpack with iPad Pocket and Kinetic Energy Recharger


  1. We definitely need this during mud season in Vermont! You had me fooled there.

  2. Finally!! (Just an FYI: it’s spelled “Cato”.) LOL

    Cheers, “Anoldclassic”

  3. My first thought upon waking this April Fools Day: Can’t wait to see what Section Hiker has come up with this year. :-) As per usual with your AFD posts, this would be so very useful!

    • I’ve been spending a lot of time in VT the past few months and it always pisses me off when Google Maps sends me down these dirt roads which are muddy when it’s wet or extremely rutted and icy when it’s cold.

  4. Will this be synergized with the Amazon drone-based trail hiker delivery Prime benefit?

  5. I expect that up in VT there’s going to be a lot of dialogue boxes popping up with “Cahn’t get theah from heah” when

  6. The helium filled mylar pack lighteners from the Dollar Store were your best April Fools idea ever.

  7. …but there’s some folks who are LOOKING for the mud! I used to be one of them…
    …until that tow bill…
    …for myself…
    …and the jeep that tried to pull me out…
    …and the wrecker that tried to pull him out…
    …and the wrecker that pulled all of us out!

  8. By the way, I had AAA at the time. For some reason, they didn’t want to get involved. go figure!

  9. I sort of wish we had a total solar eclipse more often, if only to get some of our (northern Vermont) roads closed when they are not passable but lead the unsuspecting to trailheads, and/or good eclipse viewing. This is our third mud season of the year!

  10. My in-laws used to live in St. Johnsbury. They always told the old joke that Vermont had four seasons- Fall, Winter, Mud, and the Fourth of July. Great spoof.!

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