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Best Hiking Books For Hikers, Backpackers, and Outdoor Lovers.


Article Categories: Hiking Tips
Article Tags: Books

Hiking is always an adventure, even when it’s just a short trip in your local state forest– so it makes perfect sense that it’s ripe for literary fodder. Here’s our list of books that every hiker can enjoy.


Educational Hiking Books

The books in this category all have something to teach you. These books have been chosen based on the educational value they provide. You’ll come away from them a little bit more knowledgeable about the overall idea of hiking.


On Trails: An Explanation by Robert Moor

On Trails- An ExplorationThe birth of this book occurred when Robert Moor began to wonder about the paths that lie beneath our feet while thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. His questions were about the nature of trails– how do they form? Why do some improve over time while others fade? What makes us follow trails or strike off on our own? Over the course of seven years, Moor traveled the globe, exploring trails of all kinds, from the miniscule to the massive, learning the tricks of trail-builders and the history behind the trails we traverse. This book is an exploration of how we form trails, both philosophical and practical, and what these trails mean to us.



The Appalachian Trail: A Biography by Phillip D’anieri

The Appalachian Trail: A Biography by Phillip D’anieriFew things capture the American imagination like the Appalachian Trail. Millions of hikers set foot on it every year, but few are aware of the true story behind the trail’s creation and construction.  The 2,000-mile-long hike from Georgia to Maine is not just a trail through the woods, but a set of ideas about nature etched in the forest floor. This character-driven biography of the trail is a must-read for hikers and everyone who dreams about getting away from it all and escaping into nature, even if it’s just for a short walk in the woods.



Ramble On: A History of Hiking by Jeffery Doran

Ramble On - A History of HikingHumans have been walking since before we were fully evolved, but how long have we been hiking? How did hiking evolve as a sport? Who built the hiking trails we use today, and where did the idea to build these trails come from? These questions and more are answered in Ramble On, which traces the history of hiking and its descent from the upper-class European sport of alpinism. The book covers a lot of hiking’s fascinating history, from the creation of trails to gear and apparel development, and is a fascinating book for anybody who likes the outdoors.



Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail by Ben Montgomery

Grandma Gatewood's WalkIt’s hard to think of the fabled AT as a mere footpath, but back in the 50s and 60s, parts of the Appalachian Trail were poorly maintained to the point where the trail was in danger of going extinct. Enter “Grandma” Emma Gatewood: the first woman to walk the Appalachian Trail alone, and the first person, man or woman, to walk it twice… and then three times… all past the age of sixty-five, and in canvas sneakers no less! Her accomplishments and public attention likely saved the trail, and this is the first– and only– biography of this incredibly important hiking celebrity.




Survival And Guidebooks

The following books are also educational, but cover specific skills more than history. These books are meant to teach you how to hike and improve your hiking experience.


Bushcraft 101: A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival by Dave Canterbury

Bushcraft 101: A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness SurvivalDave Canterbury’s Bushcraft guides (there’s five in the series) aren’t just about survival. They’re about using basic survival skills to actually reconnect and get closer to nature. You’ll be able to prepare for any climate and any situation and learn self-reliance, as well as what it means to spend time being one with the backcountry.



How To Survive Your First Trip In The Wild: Backpacking for Beginners by Paul Magnanti

How To Survive Your First Trip In The Wild- Backpacking for Beginners by Paul MagnantiWhen it comes to backpacking, everyone starts with the same very first step into the wilderness. Paul Magnanti’s book takes you through that first step. From choosing the right types of gear to learning essentials like choosing the right kind of campsite, this book is packed with great information. Cheat sheets and packing lists can help even experienced backpackers plan their trips- even when you’re not a beginner anymore, this is the kind of book you can turn to again and again.



Long Trails: Mastering the Art of the Thru-Hike by Liz Thomas

Backpacker Long Trails- Mastering the Art of the Thru-HikeIf you’ve ever dreamed of hiking the entire Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, or any of the other great long trails, this is the book for you. Packed full of advice from a veteran thru-hiker, this book has all the information you need to plan out a long distance thru-hike. It includes trail-proven advice on selecting gear, stocking resupplies, and planning your budget and schedule, complete with gorgeous photographs of life on the trail.



Trail Tested: A Thru-Hiker’s Guide to Ultralight Hiking and Backpacking by Justin Lichter

Trail Tested: A Thru-Hiker's Guide to Ultralight Hiking and BackpackingEven if you’re not into ultralight hiking and backpacking, this book has tons of incredible advice for any hiking enthusiast. Author Justin Lichter has put in more than 35,000 trail miles in North America and beyond, and has thru-hiked many long trails. His experience in navigation, first aid, and much more have led to a valuable guide– and it’s lushly illustrated with images from his many treks, making it a delight to read.



Hiking Travelogues And Memoirs

These books are true stories (or mostly true stories) written by hikers about their own adventures on various trails.


A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

A Walk in the Woods- Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail (Official Guides to the Appalachian Trail)You knew it was going to be on this list! A Walk in the Woods is the classic story of two out-of-shape guys attempting to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. Along the way, they meet a fascinating cast of characters, but this classic isn’t just funny– it’s a heartfelt plea for conservation of America’s last great wilderness areas. Bryson’s intellect and wit are at full force here, and anybody who’s ever gone on a hike should read this one.



Journeys North: The Pacific Crest Trail by Barney Scout Mann

Journeys North: The Pacific Crest Trail by Barney Scout MannJourneys North is the true story of six thru-hikers going north together on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2007: the year of a legendary drought. Their new-found relationships are tested by the climate and by the early severe winter storms. As the group approaches Canada, they’re faced with a final raging storm that challenges their ability to finish. With only sixty miles to go, can they all make the final push? Journeys North is a story of grit, compassion, and the relationships people forge when they strive toward a common goal.



The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

The Salt Path by Raynor WinnThe Salt Path is a story of love, loss, and hiking. When an older couple loses their home and the husband is diagnosed with a terminal illness, the Winns take to the South West Coastal Path in England because they have nowhere else to go. With only the essentials for survival that they carry with them, they live a wild life in the ancient landscape of the British sea cliffs. But rather than lose heart, a remarkable thing happens; their trek becomes a remarkable, life-affirming journey. The Salt Path is ultimately a story about how home is what we make it, and how we can find ourselves even when all seems lost.


  • Length: 284 pages
  • Year Published: 2019
  • Buy on Amazon: The Salt Path


Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest TrailAt twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she’d lost everything. Her mother, her family, and her marriage were all soon gone. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by her will and fear of what her life had become, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert to Washington state– and she would do it alone. In the end, though the journey was hard, she came out the other side a changed person. Wild is the story of how hiking and nature can heal the invisible wounds of the soul and expose strengths you didn’t even know you had.



Hiking Novels

These stories are all fictional tales where hiking plays a major role. But if that was our only qualification, then you could argue that The Lord of the Rings is a series of hiking novels! Hiking isn’t the only thing these novels have in common; they all speak to the power that nature has to change our lives and the relationships we build when we’re out in the woods.


Wildland by Rebecca Hodge

WildlandWhen Kat Jamison retreats to a camp in the Blue Ridge Mountains, she’s hoping that the peace and solitude of the natural world can help her make the hardest decision she’s ever had to face. Her solitude is interrupted by two children camping nearby, as well as a pair of abandoned dogs. But when wildfire strikes and Kat and her unexpected companions are separated from the rest of the camp, she has to push into the wilderness to save four innocent lives… as well as her own. A heart-pounding tale of surviving in the wilderness and facing your own inner demons.


  • Length: 331 pages
  • Year Published: 2020
  • Buy on Amazon: Wildland


The Run to Gitche Gumee by Robert Jones

The Run to Gitche GumeeIn this novel, two old friends set out to recreate the last excursion of their youth, but soon learn that everything changes, including the natural world they grew up hunting, fishing, and hiking in. It’s a coming of age story and a tale of reflection on the past, as well as a haunting look into humanity’s ever-increasing distance from nature.



The Trail: A Novel by Ethan Gallogly

The Trail: a novelSet in the High Sierra on the John Muir Trail, The Trail is the story of two men driven by grief and hardship to hiking. Author Ethan Gallogly, a former Sierra Club leader, takes the reader on a wild tour across the Range of Light; his personal experiences guide the story. But at its heart, this is a deeply emotional story, one that will resonate with anyone who’s ever used nature as an escape.



Twentymile by C. Matthew Smith

TwentymileIn this suspenseful thriller, set against the backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the mysterious death of a wildlife biologist sets off a chain of events that has the protagonist, a member of the National Park Service’s Investigative Services Branch, fighting for survival against both humans and the elements. The novel will have you on the edge of your seat as contention over the history of land and long-held grievances play out in the stark beauty of the Smokies.


  • Length: 328 pages
  • Year Published: 2021
  • Buy on Amazon: Twentymile


Hiking Books For Kids

These books are aimed at younger hikers. Some of them are storybooks to get kids enthused about hiking; others are hiking activity books that will encourage kids to be more reflective when they’re in the great outdoors. All of them are designed to get kids interested in hiking.


Let’s Go On A Hike! by Katrina Liu

Let's go on a hike!This fun rhyming book is great for young readers. Pre-readers will love the illustrations, and kids of all ages will appreciate the beautiful descriptions of spending time with Mother Nature.



The Hike by Allison Farrell

The HikeA lovely picture book about exploring the world around you, The Hike is a great book for kids that even has some good info for adults! If your kids have any questions about some of the natural history concepts in the book, there’s a glossary and some scientific information at the end of the book that can bring the storybook concepts right into the real world.


  • Length: 56 pages
  • Year Published: 2019
  • Age Range: 3-5
  • Buy on Amazon: The Hike


Run Wild by David Covell

Run WildIf your kids are reluctant to put down their devices, this might be just the storybook for them. It’s the tale of a young boy who lets his curiosity get the better of him– he leaves behind his phone and his shoes to go experience the beauty of the outdoors. It’s a lovely way to remind your kids what kind of natural wonders await them.


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  • Buy on Amazon: Run Wild


Backpack Explorer: On The Nature Trail by Storey Publishing

Backpack Explorer: On the Nature Trail: What Will You Find?The Backpack Explorer series is a great collection of books for elementary school kids. These are books with guided activities that kids can do on their own or with a parent’s help, and are chock full of information to help them understand what they’re seeing outside. While the publisher recommends these for kids ages 4-8, the text is more advanced than an average preschooler or kindergartener can handle; we recommend this series for the 6-10 set.



Bear Grylls The Complete Adventures Collection

Bear Grylls The Complete Adventures CollectionBear Grylls is an icon among many and a favorite of many kids. His complete adventure series is meant to inspire young children to partake in adventure. There is a very simple series here of 12 books that are a great intro to get younger kids into reading larger chapter books. This is a different style than the other books on a list, but a great intro to adventure.



Survivor Kid: A Practical Guide to Wilderness Survival by Denise Long

Survivor Kid: A Practical Guide to Wilderness SurvivalKids absolutely love reading about survival skills. While you hope they’ll probably never be in a position to need these skills, that doesn’t make learning about them any less fun.




Have any more great books to add to our list? Let us know by sending us a message!

Max DesMarais

Max DesMarais

Max DesMarais is the founder of hikingandfishing.com. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor adventure, travel, and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, backcountry skier, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. Max grew up hiking all around New Hampshire and New England. He became obsessed with the New Hampshire mountains, and the NH 48, where he guided hikes and trail runs in the White Mountains. Since moving out west, Max has continued climbed all of the Colorado 14ers, is always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about