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The 10 Best Appalachian Trail Books for Hikers

A Walk in the Woods
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

1. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

The Appalachian Trail trail stretches from Georgia to Maine and covers some of the most breathtaking terrain in America-majestic mountains, silent forests, sparking lakes. If you’re going to take a hike, it’s probably the place to go. And Bill Bryson is surely the most entertaing guide you’ll find. He introduces us to the history and ecology of the trail and to some of the other hardy folks he meets along the way-and a couple of bears. Already a classic, “A Walk in the Woods ” will make you long for the great outdoors.)

Stumbling Thru
Stumbling Thru by Digger Stolz

2. Stumbling Thru by Digger Stolz

Walter is the first person to thru-hike against his will. He is out-of-shape, out-of-sorts and, now that his wife has decided enough is enough, he’s out of the house too. It’s that classic scenario: Hike or ELSE! Since the poor, morose Walter can’t figure an ‘ELSE’ he sets off on the longest walk of his life. While braving the great Eastern woods, Walter meets an eclectic cast of hopeful thru-hikers. As they journey northward, this rollicking band suffers through every hardship that America’s premiere hiking trail can throw at them.

AWOL on the Appalachian Trail
AWOL on the Appalachian Trail

3. AWOL on the Applachian Trail by David Miller

In 2003, David Miller left his job, family, and friends to fulfill a dream and hike the Appalachian Trail. AWOL on the Appalachian Trail is 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.

Walking with Spring by Earl V. Shaffer
Walking with Spring

4. Walking with Spring by Earl Schaffer

In April 1948, Earl Shaffer had cjust ome home from war in the Pacific. He needed to walk it off, and he did with the most primitive of gear. In four months, he walked with the merging spring from Georgia to Maine, bushwhacking to find the route more often than not, becoming the first to report a complete, single-journey trek on the Appalachian Trail,

Grandma Gatewood's Walk by Ben Montgomery
Grandma Gatewood’s Walk

5. Grandma Gatewood’s Walk by Ben Montgomery

Emma Gatewood was the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail alone, as well as the first person—man or woman—to walk it twice and three times, and she did it all after the age of 65. This is the first and only biography of Grandma Gatewood, as the reporters called her, who became a hiking celebrity in the 1950s and ’60s.

Becomming Odyssa by Jennifer Phar Davis
Becomming Odyssa

6. Becomming Odyssa by Jennifer Phar Davis

After graduating from college, Jennifer isn’t sure what she wants to do with her life. She is drawn to the Appalachian Trail, a 2175-mile footpath that stretches from Georgia to Maine. Though her friends and family think she’s crazy, she sets out alone to hike the trail, hoping it will give her time to think about what she wants to do next. The next four months are the most physically and emotionally challenging of her life. With every step she takes, Jennifer transitions from an over-confident college graduate to a student of the trail, braving situations she never imagined before her thru-hike. The trail is full of unexpected kindness, generosity, and humor. And when tragedy strikes, she learns that she can depend on other people to help her in times of need.

Three Hundred Zeros by Dennis Blanchard
Three Hundred Zeros

7. Three Hundred Zeros by Dennis Blanchard

Never living very far from the Appalachian Trail, Dennis was always aware of the seductive siren’s call to hike it. In the sixties Dennis made a promise to his brother that haunted him for over forty years. Finally, when there were no more excuses, he set out 2007 on the Appalachian Trail to fulfill that promise.

Skywalker: Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Walker
Skywalker: Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail

8. Skywalker: Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Walker

Why would a middle-aged businessman, who had never even spent a single night outdoors, attempt to hike the entire Appalachian trail in one year? Bill Walker, a former commodities trader in Chicago and London, and an avid walker, had developed a virtual obsession to thru-hike the 2,175 mile AT. In the spring of 2005 he set off, determined to hike this Georgia-to-northern Maine wilderness trail before the arrival of winter. Immediately, he realized he had plunged into a whole new world. Walker’s near 7-foot height earned him the trail name, Skywalker, and drew envious raves from fellow hikers.

Hiking Through by Paul Stutzman
Hiking Through

9. Hiking Through by Paul Stutzman

After Paul Stutzman lost his wife to breast cancer, he sensed a tug on his heart–the call to a challenge, the call to pursue a dream. Paul left his stable career, traveled to Georgia, and took his first steps on the Appalachian Trail. What he learned during the next four and a half months changed his life–and will change readers’ lives as well.

A Walk for Sunshine by Jeff Alt
A Walk for Sunshine

10. A Walk for Sunshine by Jeff Alt

Jeff Alt takes you along every step of his 2,160-mile Appalachian Trail adventure filled with humorous, frightening and inspirational stories including, bears, bugs, blisters, skunk bed mates and hilarious food cravings.As Alt walked through freezing temperatures, driving rain and sunny skies, he was constantly buoyed by the knowledge that his walk was dedicated to his brother who has cerebral pals

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  1. I just finished “Walking the Appilation Trail” By Larry Luxemburg and loved it!
    Keeping it for future reference if I do the trail!

  2. Trail Magic by Louis Agoston Jr aka Box Turtle makes you feel like you are there. The storyline combines the realities of a thru-hike including: satisfaction and elation, struggles with depression, romance and drama and catchy dialogue by people you would want to meet. Most of the characters are fictitious, but the trail angels are real.

  3. I need a more technical outlook on the trail, the sheer beauty and challenges I understand, its more of what I can expect during the walk, challenges, rest stops and towns where I can “stock up”. I was going to walk from Blanco, TX to Terlingua Ranch (where I own property) but this nature walk would be better. I intend to have a uninterrupted walk from North to South. This is going to be so much fun, challenges make it even more so.

    • Blanco to Terlingua Ranch would be a scenic 450 mile walk through the Hill Country, desert and mountains. Most of it would be on private property with more than a few fences to cross and water sources wouldn’t be as available as along the AT. Who knows? You could write the book on that hike!

  4. Take a Walk in the Woods off this list! I hope the writer isn’t like the person he’s conveyed to be in this book. What a negative, egotistical, and miserable character. If you never want to hike the AT, read this book. I made it to page 139 and couldn’t read another word. I was hoping that his negativity would transform into a positive, reflective story but I’ve given up hope since they made it all the way to the Smokies by this point in the book and are more negative than ever. There are far better books accounting ones hiking journey that tell the hard truths of the journey without taking away from everyone that has gone on such a journey before or enabled others to.

    • Dear Carrie,

      You missed the point: it’s FUNNY!!! Bryson is a superb writer.

      I’ve reread A Walk in the Woods numerous times since it was first written, and enjoyed it, and was inspired by it, every time.

      Ralph “Elvis Trailsley” Ferrusi
      Appalachian Trail 4000-Miler…………………………….

    • I agree! This book came out the year before my 99 thru hike so of course I got a few copies for Christmas! Yes it was well written and laugh out loud funny at times but he was a writer with an advance that plopped down a bunch of money and bought all his gear at once while I struggled to buy things as sales happened at REI and my local outfitter. So then he and his obnoxious friend can’t hack it but to fulfill his contract he fills the middle of the book with stories some of which have nothing to do with the AT like the underground fire in Centralia. I am NOT a fan of this book and I’ve read about 30 others so there’s no shortage of good ones to replace this with for this list. Oh and the movie was a ridiculous portrayal of what hiking the AT is like further diminishing my respect for him and his understanding of the whole AT vibe. He just didn’t get it…

    • I wouldn’t call for it to be taken off the list, but I couldn’t finish the book, either. I found his lengthy digressions tedious. I didn’t care for the way he insisted the trail would be better if we managed nature more rather than letting nature takeover (the balds, for example).

      He’s a good writer. His description of English people in “Notes from a Small Island” is hilarious. But even in that book, something about his writing grated on me. I quit reading.

    • I think he was confessing to his own inability to complete a thru hike but still take pride in what he accomplished. He is my favorite author but I agree his book should not be on the list of most helpful AT books. However, the book has much Helpful information.any AT hiker would get something beneficial from the book. No-one equals his research.

  5. Dear Carrie,

    You missed the point: it’s FUNNY!!! Bryson is a superb writer.

    I’ve reread A Walk in the Woods numerous times since it was first written, and enjoyed it, and was inspired by it, every time.

    Ralph “Elvis Trailsley” Ferrusi
    Appalachian Trail 4000-Miler…………………………….

  6. This list should also add “The Unlikely Thru-Hiker” by Derick Lugo. I just finished it. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Easy reading and a funny guy…

    • A second for The Unlikely Thru Hiker. It’s definitely in my top 4. My others are (in no particular order, than the first one), Grandma Gatewood’s Walk, Sauntering Through by Kyle Rohrig, and Balancing On Blue by Keith Foskett. Fozzie gives great recounts of his hikes.

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