Best Hiking Books for Hikers

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small library of hiking books

Hiking Books

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These are the best hiking books I’ve found to date. This list focuses on hiking the Eastern USA. Many of these books were instrumental in getting me started, and in giving me the confidence to hike the wilderness solo.

The list is focussed on the Hudson Valley, where I do most of my hiking. But I’ve started to branch out so I’ve included some recent purchases for Vermont and New Hampshire.

Others are just great fun to read.

The Best Hiking Books

TL;DR / Short Version: Here’s my Amazon list of the best hiking books so you can throw them right in your cart.

If you don’t want to feed the Amazon beast, here’s the same list of best hiking books on — a great way to support local bookstores.

You might also enjoy browsing my Amazon best hiking gear list.

50 Hikes in the Catskills

50 Hikes in the Catskills

Catskill veterans Derek Dellinger and Matthew Cathcart explore trails for every level of hiker, from the gentle but breathtaking slog up Slide Mountain, the tallest in the region, to the more challenging Cornell Mountain, a favorite of those more experienced. No matter your hiking goals, this guide will help you find the perfect trail for you among the Catskills.

50 Hikes Upper Hudson Valley

50 Hikes in the Upper Hudson Valley

Few regions of America offer a landscape as beautiful, varied, and easily accessible as the Hudson Valley. From the stunning fjords of the Hudson Highlands, one can see both the Manhattan skyline and the distant looming Catskills. The challenging rock scramble up Breakneck Ridge is one of the most popular hikes in all the Northeast, but nearby, a quiet ridge-walk to Bald Mountain offers solitude and equally stunning views.

50 Hikes Lower Hudson Valley

50 Hikes in the Lower Hudson Valley

With hikes of all types and difficulties from lower Westchester County to the Shawangunks, 50 Hikes in the Lower Hudson Valley has something for hikers of every experience level. Each hike provides a difficulty rating, approximate walking time, distance, vertical rise, maps, and trailhead GPS coordinates outlined at the beginning of the chapter, and provides tips and suggestions for getting to the trail, resting, and observing views throughout the hike.

Catskill 67

Catskill 67, A Hiker’s Guide

If you’ve finished your Catskill 3500’s, this is a great next list. Many of the hikes listed here are even more beautiful than some of the most famous Catskills hikes.

It’s not often in this day and age an author gets to introduce a whole new group of mountains. Alan Via provides a wealth of information on a previously overlooked group of peaks: the Catskill 67. In this hiker s guide to the lesser-known peaks of the Catskill 100 Highest, Via provides routes to the summits on trails, woods roads, or bushwhacking with keen observations and a wry sense of humor.

The Catskill Forest: A History

The Catskill Forest: A History

This one is for the nerds. An absolutely indispensable guide to cracking open the long history of the Catskills and its many weird forests.

This book is the result of more than 40 years of research on the Catskill forest. It includes 25 maps showing the distribution of species and forest-products industries in addition to a full-color, large, fold-out map that shows the extent of the first growth forest, second and third growth forest, agricultural lands, burned areas, reforested areas, and landslides. Five sections look at plant migrations to the region following the last glaciation, the impact of people on the forest, the forest regrown, mountain ranges, forest industries. A must for anyone who loves the Catskills.

Easy Weekend Getaways

Easy Weekend Getaways in the Hudson Valley & Catskills: Short Breaks from New York City

Ditches the well-worn antiquing, golfing, and family-friendly activities for a focus on what’s really drawing creative and trend-forward travelers up north―experimental art, incredible agriculture, action-packed outdoor adventures, artisanal producers and makers, bizarre and fascinating historical attractions, rustic-chic bed and breakfasts, holistic retreats, and more, all hidden within a stunning landscape that delights year-round.

Best Hudson Valley Dayhikes

AMC’s Best Day Hikes in the Catskills and Hudson Valley

Seems to be out of print right now so maybe pick up a used copy. Really great book.

Available for the first time in rich full-color, AMC’s Best Day Hikes in the Catskills and Hudson Valley, 3rd Edition, is the go-to guide for hikes in this popular New York region. Encompassing more than 600 miles of trails within just a few hours of New York City, the Catskills and Hudson Valley are a hiker’s paradise, boasting varied and scenic terrain, from Westchester County to Albany. This fully updated guide leads beginner and experienced hikers alike along 60 of the region’s most spectacular trails, from shorter nature walks to longer day hikes.

From classic hikes such as Storm King Mountain in the Hudson Highlands, to carriage roads in the Shawangunks, to a historic walk around the grounds of Oleana, to new hikes in Harriman State Park just an hour outside New York City, this book covers the area’s must-do outings. An at-a-glance trip planner highlights the best hikes near public transportation, as well as those best for kids, dogs, and winter snowshoeing and skiing.

best day hikes in new jersey

AMC’s Best Day Hikes in New Jersey

Whether you’re an avid hiker or seek adventure in your own backyard, this must-have resource covers all of New Jersey ― the northern Skylands, the northeastern Gateway near New York City, the Jersey and Southern shores, the Greater Atlantic City area, and the Delaware River ― revealing remarkable natural beauty in the midst of a densely populated region. Explore the urban-adjacent, 4,269-acre Ramapo State Forest, with its views of the New York City skyline; hike New Jersey’s famous Pine Barrens; stroll seaside in Hartshorne Woods Park; and tackle the rugged landscape along the Appalachian Trail, in High Point State Park. You’ll find hikes for every skill level.

best day hikes in vermont AMC

AMC’s Best Day Hikes in Vermont

Expertly curated and field-tested, this guide features 60 of the best day hikes the state has to offer, for all skill levels. Whether you’re looking to explore high summits such as Camel’s Hump or Mount Mansfield, hike sections of the Long Trail or the Appalachian Trail, or set off on a day trip through fertile valleys, rivers, and ponds, this must-have resource is a must-have in your pack.

A comprehensive revision of the previous edition, this title also includes new hikes, such as Bald Mountain, Bromley Mountain, Haystack Mountain, Branch and Bourn ponds, Barr Hill, Belvidere Mountain, and Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. All descriptions of previously featured trails have been updated to reflect the most recent expansions and reroutings, highlighting the best hikes statewide.

white mountains AMC hiking guide

AMC’s Comprehensive Guide to Hiking Trails in the White Mountain National Forest

Now in print for 110 years, hikers have relied on AMC’s White Mountain Guide for two centuries. This guidebook is the most trusted resource for the hiking trails of the magnificent White Mountain National Forest and surrounding regions. The thirtieth edition has been thoroughly updated and revised with accurate descriptions of over 500 trails, six topographic maps with trail segment mileage, trip planning and safety information, and a checklist of New England’s Four-Thousand Footers.

Now with an easier to navigate interior layout and icons, trip planning is a cinch. With expert advice and trail coverage, this comprehensive guide is the perfect companion for planning a hike. Whether it’s a day trip to stunning waterfalls, a backpacking adventure in the Great Gulf Wilderness, or Mount Washington, the White Mountain Guide is the only resource you need for your adventures in the White Mountains.

black faces, white spaces

Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors

In this thought-provoking study, Carolyn Finney looks beyond the discourse of the environmental justice movement to examine how the natural environment has been understood, commodified, and represented by both white and black Americans. Bridging the fields of environmental history, cultural studies, critical race studies, and geography, Finney argues that the legacies of slavery, Jim Crow, and racial violence have shaped cultural understandings of the “great outdoors” and determined who should and can have access to natural spaces.

Drawing on a variety of sources from film, literature, and popular culture, and analyzing different historical moments, including the establishment of the Wilderness Act in 1964 and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Finney reveals the perceived and real ways in which nature and the environment are racialized in America. Looking toward the future, she also highlights the work of African Americans who are opening doors to greater participation in environmental and conservation concerns.

Trailside Navigation

Backpacker Magazine’s Trailside Navigation: Map And Compass

Informs readers about choosing and using a compass; basic map reading skills; plotting a course and finding your way through the wilderness; using stars to navigate rivers, streams and trails at night; using maps and compass in concert with a GPS receiver. This handy pocket-sized guide is 96 pages, includes two popouts, and incorporates color photos, charts, and illustrations as needed throughout the interior.

Bushcraft 101: A Field Guide

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

Written by survivalist expert Dave Canterbury, Bushcraft 101 gets you ready for your next backcountry trip with advice on making the most of your time outdoors. Based on the 5Cs of Survivability–cutting tools, covering, combustion devices, containers, and cordages–this valuable guide offers only the most important survival skills to help you craft resources from your surroundings and truly experience the beauty and thrill of the wilderness. Inside, you’ll also discover detailed information on:

  • Choosing the right items for your kit.
  • Manufacturing needed tools and supplies.
  • Collecting and cooking food.
  • Protecting yourself from the elements.

With Canterbury’s guidance, you’ll not only prepare yourself for any climate and situation, you’ll also learn how to use the art of bushcraft to reconnect with nature in ways you’ve never imagined.

A Walk in the Woods Appalachian Trail

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

Back in America after twenty years in Britain, Bill Bryson decided to reacquaint himself with his native country by walking the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine. The AT offers an astonishing landscape of silent forests and sparkling lakes—and to a writer with the comic genius of Bill Bryson, it also provides endless opportunities to witness the majestic silliness of his fellow human beings.

For a start there’s the gloriously out-of-shape Stephen Katz, a buddy from Iowa along for the walk. But A Walk in the Woods is more than just a laugh-out-loud hike. Bryson’s acute eye is a wise witness to this beautiful but fragile trail, and as he tells its fascinating history, he makes a moving plea for the conservation of America’s last great wilderness. An adventure, a comedy, and a celebration, A Walk in the Woods is a modern classic of travel literature.

Not Without Peril: 150 Years Of Misadventure On The Presidential Range Of New Hampshire

Not Without Peril: 150 Years Of Misadventure On The Presidential Range Of New Hampshire

Among the most dangerous mountains in the world, Mount Washington has challenged adventurers for centuries with its severe weather. From the days when gentlefolk ascended the heights in hoop skirts and wool suits to today’s high-tech assaults on wintry summits, this book offers extensive and intimate profiles of people who found trouble on New Hampshire’s Presidential Range, from the nineteenth century through present day. Veteran journalist Nicholas Howe draws on his investigative skills and familiarity with the mountains of his childhood to create this gripping collection. The result is a compelling story about our changing relationship with the mountains we love and the risks they pose. This Tenth Anniversary Edition includes a new afterword by Nicholas Howe, with commentary on how our relationship with the Presidential Range has evolved over the last decade.

Edible Wild Plants

Edible Wild Plants: Eastern/Central North America

More than 370 edible wild plants, plus 37 poisonous lookalikes, are described here, with 400 drawings and 78 color photographs showing precisely how to recognize each species. Also included are habitat descriptions, lists of plants by season, and preparation instructions for 22 different food uses.

The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America

The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America

Compact and comprehensive, this guide features 650 bird species, plus regional populations, found east of the Rocky Mountains. Entries include stunningly accurate illustrations–more than 4,600 in total–with descriptive captions pointing out the most important field marks.

Each entry has been updated to include the most current information concerning frequency, nesting, behavior, food and feeding, voice description, and key identification features. Here too are more than 600 updated maps drawn from information contributed by 110 regional experts across the continent, and showing winter, summer, year-round, migration, and rare ranges.

Shop Smart

Here’s that Amazon list of the best hiking books again.

If you don’t want to feed the Amazon beast, here’s the same list of best hiking books on — a great way to support local bookstores.

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