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10 Great Outdoor Adventure Books For Hikers

following atticus
following atticus

1. Following Atticus by Tom Ryan

Tom Ryan’s inspiring tale of how he and his miniature schnauzer companion, the “Little Buddha” Atticus M. Finch, attempted to scale all forty-eight of New Hampshire’s four thousand foot White Mountains twice in the dead of winter.

A Million Steps
A Million Steps

2. A Million Steps by Kurt Koontz

Part diary, part travelogue, A Million Steps is Kurt Koontz’s engaging memoir of hiking the historic Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route in Spain. With outgoing humor and friendliness, he embraces the beauty of the countryside and joyful connections to other pilgrims from around the world, while navigating through his personal history of addiction, recovery, and love.

AWOL on the Appalachian Trail
AWOL on the Appalachian Trail

3.  AWOL on the Appalachian Trail by David Miller

AWOL on the Appalachian Trail is David Miller’s account of this thru-hike along the entire 2,172 miles from Georgia to Maine. On page after page, readers are treated to rich descriptions of the valleys and mountains, the isolation and reverie, the inspiration that fueled his quest, and the life-changing moments that can only be experienced when dreams are pursued. David Miller is also the author of the AT Guide, published annually.

K2 Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain
K2: Life and Death on the World’s Most Dangerous Mountain

4. K2: The World’s Most Dangerous Mountain by Ed Viesturs

Focusing on seven of the mountain’s most dramatic campaigns, from his own troubled ascent to the 2008 tragedy, Viesturs crafts an edge-of-your-seat narrative that climbers and armchair travelers alike will find unforgettably compelling.

Colin Fletcher: One Man's Journey  Down the Colorado River, from Source to Sea
River: One Man’s Journey Down the Colorado River, from Source to Sea

5. River: One Man’s Journey Down the Colorado by Colin Fletcher

Colin Fletcher, the backpacking guru and consummate observer of nature whose previous treks through the American West are recounted in The Man Who Walked Through Time and The Thousand-Mile Summer, takes readers on a 1,700-mile, six-month journey down the entire length of America’s second longest river, the Colorado.

Wild From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

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

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage fell apart. With nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail and she would do it alone.

Between a rock and a hard place
Between a rock and a hard place

7. Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston

One of the most extraordinary survival stories ever told — Aron Ralston’s searing account of his six days trapped in one of the most remote spots in America, and how one inspired act of bravery brought him home.

Never Cry Wolf
Never Cry Wolf

8. Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat

Never Cry Wolf is one of the most brilliant narratives on the myth and magical world of wild wolves and man’s true place among the creatures of nature. “We have doomed the wolf not for what it is, but for what we deliberately and mistakenly perceive it to be — the mythological epitome of a savage, ruthless killer — which is, in reality, no more than the reflected image of ourself. Written, by Farley Mowat, the author of 39 books, this is a gripping and timeless conservation classic.

Indian Creek Chronicles
Indian Creek Chronicles

9. Indian Creek Chronicles: A Winter in the Bitterroot Wilderness by Pete Fromm

Indian Creek Chronicles is Pete Fromm’s account of seven winter months spent alone in a tent in Idaho guarding salmon eggs and coming face to face with the blunt realities of life as a contemporary mountain man. He learned to hunt, to tan leather, and to preserve meat. There were occasional parties with hunting groups, brief visits by the game wardens, and a few narrow escapes. A fine tale of adventure and self-sufficiency.

The Last Englishman
The Last Englishman

10. The Last Englishman by Keith Foskett

‘The Last Englishman’ is Keith’s account of his 2,650 mile adventure on Americas Pacific Crest Trail. With only 20% of hikers finishing this trail, “Fozzie” must face his fear of snakes, bears, getting dirty and camping in the woods after dark. Far from his home in West Sussex, Englands and a stranger in a very strange land, The Last Englishman is a funny and entertaining adventure story that includes the highs, the lows, the companionship, the solitude, nature’s grandeur, and the inner journey of hiking a long distance trail.

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25 comments

  1. I found the Indian Creek Chronicles riveting.

  2. Can I add two that I discovered in the past year? Both are about explorations of Labrador, the first a fatal trip, the second a successful trip by the wife of the first trip’s leader. They are fascinating reads. Lure of the Labrador Wild, by Dillon Wallace. And A Woman’s Way Through Unknown Labrador, by Mina Hubbard.

  3. Following Atticus was actually the reason I wanted to start hiking in the Whites. And (I’ll admit it) played a small role in the decision to rescue a dog… Or at least made me less against when my wife brought up the idea.

  4. Great list! Woodswoman and the sequels, by Anne LaBastille, are terrific books about life in a cabin in the rural Adirondacks. I highly recommend them.

  5. I’ve read a couple of them and have them in my Library,,but..well, I would have suggested something like, for women; Journey on the Crest, Cindy Ross, tells the story of her hike on the PCT and according to some of my current lady friends, nothing has really changed much since she hiked the trail. The Classic…The Thousand Mile Summer, Colin Fletcher, The Journals of Lewis&Clark by John Bakeless, and more modern, Hiking Through, Stutzman, telling of his trip on the ATC, then for traditionalists who like to gain knowledge of early Americans, Survival Skills of Native California by Campbell.. For Outdoor Humor about Hunting and Fishing and some Hiking..any one of the books by Patrick McManus most notably, “They Shoot Canoes don’t they” or “NEver sniff a gift fish”,,he wrote stories for Outdoor life for more years than I can remember…

    • I’ve read some of those, but will check out the rest. I’m reading a lot of books about fishing at the moment. About one a day. :-)

      • I only have two books in my Library on the subject of fishing. Matching the Hatch by Ernest G. Schwiebert jr. and the all time classic The Compleat Angler by Izak Walton. Since I fish a lot and have a Bass Boat to support that habit it is a good thing to own. The Bass Pro Shop offers classes on a number of fishing topics like Fly Fishing and Fly Tying and other methods. The secret to all fishing comes down to three and only three important items. #1. Presentation of the Bait, be it a Rapala Lure (my favorite I have some 60 of them), Live or artificial worm, or a Trout Fly and of course.. #2. The right bait that the fish are eating in that area or moment in time. #3. Fishing where the fish are located. My favorite for the High Sierra Lakes was a Rooster Tail with either a Gold or a Silver Metal spinner. They were finicky about whether they wanted the Gold one day and or the Silver the next, and on one trip a tiny piece of Pink Bubble Gum attached to the hook worked like magic. They next day they wanted the Artificial worm. Now float fishing that is fishing with a Bobber and a worm requires different equipment. Packed Ice chest, a Reclining Beach Chair, I prefer a very low to the ground chair, a Fishing Rod Holder or two and of course a Fishing Pole and Fishing tackle box and worms. On the west coast at Mission Bay in San Diego,,no worms, I used sliced Octopus or frozen Squid. The Sand Bass loved that Squid. In one honey hole my two brothers and I caught 38 Bass, 5 Sculpin, 8 Croaker and one Halibut in 4 hours… I mostly only catch and release, I rarely take the fish home…Trout in the mountains that is a different ball game all together, their usually breakfast or dinner. Good luck.

  6. Nice list. I would’ve replaced K2 with Viestur’s other book “No Shortcuts to the Top.” And I would also have in there “Into thin Air.”

    My honorable mentions would be:
    “The Last Season” by Eric Blehm
    “Touching the Void” by Joe Simpson
    “Endurance” by Alfred Lansing
    “The Last of his kind” by David Roberts
    “Last man on the mountain” by Jennifer Jordan.

    I could keep going, but these are books that left the biggest impression on me.

  7. Our Last Backpack: A Memoir – Daniel Doan

    • Ooh, yes, that was a good one. It was interesting to me as a fairly new hiker (21st century only) to read about all the differences between backpacking then compared to now. For instance, they built fires every night to cook over, and they only took photos they thought would turn out really well b/c they had film cameras instead of digital ones. How things have changed!

      • Daniel Doan’s books are not that old. He’s since passed away, but his 50 hikes series are still some of the most popular guide books ever sold. I have all of the ones he wrote for New England and did most of the hikes in them before discovering the White Mountains.

  8. The Last Season is wonderful. Would definitely add that to the list. I would also add A Sense of the World by Jason Roberts, Encounters with the Archdruid by John McFee, and Desert solitaire by Edward abbey.

  9. Not Without Peril, incase you were starting to feel comfortable with your abilities. Brings you back down to earth quickly.

  10. Beyond the Last Village by Alan Rabinowitz
    Stranger in the Forest by Eric Hansen
    Any of the dozen or so by Wilfred Thesiger!

  11. I am really reluctant to recommend “Wild” to people. It is a wrenching personal journey, but it is a terrible backpacking book. How many toenails do you need to lose before someone else tells you your boots don’t fit? [Hint: way too many.]

    She is so lucky that she is not a pile of bleached bones beside the trail. That book gave me nightmares.

    Instead, read “Goodbye to a River” by John Graves. Both his writing and his outdoor skills far surpass Cheryl Strayed’s abilities.

    Also, any of Bill Tilman’s mountain books, especially “The Ascent of Nanda Devi”. Those are collected here: http://www.amazon.com/H-W-Tilman-Seven-Mountain-Travel/dp/0898869609/

    After that, read “The Ascent of Rum Doodle”. Anyone who has led a trek will find truth in that book.

  12. “Give Me The Hills” by Miriam Underhill, no longer in print but readily available on Amazon used. A wonderful narrative of climbing in the early 1900’s by a remarkable woman, when women didn’t really climb. Set in the Whites and the Alps. Several first ascents. Delightful, inspirational.

  13. I’d like to add a couple more:

    “Listening to Coyote” by William Sullivan. In the 1980’s, shortly after the passage of the Wilderness Act, he decided to hike through the wilderness (both statutory and de facto) between Cape Blanco, westernmost point in Oregon, to Hells Canyon, the easternmost point. It was quite an adventure, and he met some amazing characters along the way! Sullivan has since written THE trail guidebooks to Oregon and adjacent areas in Washington and California. I found “Listening to Coyote” a fascinating read. Now I just have to get it back from my daughter, to whom I loaned it, so I can read it again!

    “Grandma Gatewood’s Walk” by Ben Montgomery, just published this year. Quite an eye-opener, revealing a lot of aspects of this valiant lady that are not part of the myths.

  14. If you want some hard to believe they survived Polar exploration read “The worst journey in the world” by Apsley Cherry-Garrard.

    Also Fridtjof Nansen two volume personal journal from the Fram Expedition, available on gutenberg, are also amazing

  15. Oh one more, I am a polar exploration junkie. The new book In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette, is great as well.

  16. Don’t forget “I Hike” by Lawton Grinter. I’ve read most of the books on this list and this book is the best hiking book that I’ve read by a real Triple Crowner. It’s a book by a long distance hiker for a long distance hiker.

  17. If you want the classic adventure books, National Geographic back in 2004 listed the 100 Greatest Adventure Books of All Time:
    http://www.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/0404/adventure_books.html
    Some of these are listed above. And of course the list omits anything in the last 11 years!

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