Want to know what it’s like to hike long-distance trails or do you want to learn about the benefits of hiking? These are the best books for hikers!
Books to get inspired
Are you in the mood for hiking inspiration? These books contain overviews of the most beautiful hikes in the world.
Epic Hikes of the World
I absolutely love Lonely Planet’s best of books and Epic Hikes of the World is one of my favorites. It’s a beautiful book filled with pictures and descriptions of some of the best and most beautiful hiking trails in the world.
"The book is beautifully illustrated and makes a perfect coffee table book for yourself or the aspiring adventurer in your life. It will give you just enough detail to whet your appetite and help you kickstart your next adventure."―SoCal Hiker
Wanderlust: the most legendary hiking trails in the world
Are you curious about the scariest hiking trails in the world? Then you should read Wanderlust: the world’s most legendary hiking trails from Gestalten publishers. The hikes are not only described but there are also beautiful photos and handy maps.
"Whether it is the fabled King's Pathway in Spain or the mythical hiking path in Norway, Wanderlust: Hiking on Legendary Trails, published by Gestalten, captures the diversity of the world’s landscapes. Explore picturesque hiking trails in enchanting corners of the planet and discover the world one step at a time with these photographs from the book." - MSN
Walking Distance: Extraordinary Hikes for Ordinary People
If you think hiking an epic long-distance trail is only for extraordinary people you are wrong. Everyone who can put one foot in front of the other can do it. If I can do it, you can do it for sure. Walking Distance is one of those classic hiking books about the most famous hiking trails in the world, like the Inca Trail in Peru, Kungsleden in Sweden, and the Camino the Santiago in Spain.
Long-distance walking is good for you and good for the earth... But most of all, walking is a joyful celebration of life and the diverse, beautiful, and curious world in which we live. -- from the Introduction
100 Hikes of a Lifetime: The World’s Ultimate Scenic Trails
In 100 Hikes of a Lifetime: The World’s Ultimate Scenic Trails by National Geographic, you will read all about the most amazing hikes in the world, from exciting short hikes to multi-day and long-distance hikes. Thanks to the many gorgeous photographs this book is a best seller.
This ultimate hiker's bucket list, from the celebrated Appalachian Trail to Micronesia's off-the-beaten-path Six Waterfalls Hike, treks through 100 energizing experiences for all levels.
The Hidden Tracks: Wanderlust – Hiking Adventures off the Beaten Path
Do you want to read a book about hiking that is not about the most famous hiking trails? Then The Hidden Tracks: Wanderlust – Hiking Adventures off the Beaten Path is the book you need. This book takes you to the most beautiful hiking trails that are not so well known yet. It’s about discovering places that you can only get when you hike for days, but also about unexplored hikes in your neighborhood.
“If you’ve ever wanted to lace up your hiking boots (or hop on your bike) and set off on a proper off-the-beaten-track adventure, consider these options.” ― The Telegraph
Fifty Places to Hike Before You Die: Outdoor Experts Share the World’s Greatest Destinations
Another great coffee table book about hiking! Fifty Places to Hike Before You Die is a fantastic guide that shows you 50 amazing places for a fun hiking adventure. It has information on trails from all over the world. For example, Rwanda, Italy, and Japan are covered.
Hiking in the United States
As you might know, I love exploring the United States on foot. Besides hiking the Arizona Trail in 2022, and a large section of the Pacific Crest Trail in 2019, I also went on many great day hikes in the USA. These are some interesting books about hiking in the United States.
Walks of a Lifetime in America’s National Parks: Extraordinary Hikes in Exceptional Places
Do you love to explore the best trails in the National Parks? Get this book: Walks of a Lifetime in America’s National Parks. This book describes all the US National Parks, and you’ll learn all about the best hikes and viewpoints.
“American Trails is working to create more and better trails across our country; the Mannings’ exceptional book leads you to the very best hikes in our national parks.” - The National Park Foundation
TIP: would you like to keep track of all the great National Park hikes? Get this amazing 100 Hikes of the National Parks Scratch Off Travel Print.
Check out this post for more amazing books and gifts of the US National Parks: 35 Best Books on National Parks + other gift ideas
Classic Hikes of North America: 25 Breathtaking Treks in the United States and Canada
If you plan on hiking in North America, this is the perfect book for you. Classic Hikes of North America tells you everything about the best hikes in the United States and Canada. The hikes are illustrated by hundreds of jaw-dropping photographs.
Everything you need to know about the United States' and Canada's most enjoyable hiking routes and backcountry excursions.
America’s Best Day Hikes: Spectacular Single-Day Hikes Across the States
Are you only interested in doing day hikes? America’s Best Day Hikes: Spectacular Single-Day Hikes Across the States might be the perfect book for you! No camping is needed because you can do all these hikes during daylight. Every hike is explained really well, including difficulty and duration.
Beautifully illustrated, this best-of compendium features the most memorable one-day hikes in every region of the United States from Sierra Buttes Lookout in Tahoe National Forest to Grinnell Glacier Trail in Montana's Glacier National Park to Giant Mountain in Adirondack Park and beyond.
America’s Great Mountain Trails: 100 Highcountry Hikes of a Lifetime
Hiking in the mountains is amazing and it feels like one big adventure. If you’d like to discover the best mountain trails in the USA, you’ll want to add this book to your collection: America’s Great Mountain Trails: 100 Highcountry Hikes of a Lifetime.
Winner of the 2020 National Outdoor Book Award, this book is a hiker's inspirational bucket list embodied in a lavishly illustrated celebration of our nation's one hundred best mountain trails.
America’s Great Hiking Trails
Are you interested in exploring one of the great long-distance trails in the US? America’s Great Hiking Trails is a must-read. It will tell you all about America’s most iconic trails, including the Appalachian Trail, the Florida Trail, and the Pacific Crest Trail.
Epic hiking adventures
It’s amazing to read about epic hiking adventures and stories. You not only learn what it’s like to go on a big hike but also what not to do and how to be safe while hiking. These are some books with beautiful stories about hiking and unforgettable adventures.
Into the Wild
This book by Jon Krakauer is a classic. Into the wild tells the story of Christopher McCandless, a 24-year-old with a bright future who leaves everything behind. He gives all his savings to charity, leaves his car and most of his possessions, and hitchhikes to Alaska. He goes backpacking with barely any equipment. And it doesn’t end well. It’s a great book that definitely teaches you a lesson: prepare before you go out in the wilderness.
Only When I Step On It: One Man’s Inspiring Journey to Hike The Appalachian Trail Alone
I have another amazing story about hiking the Appalachian Trail for you! Only When I Step On It is about Peter who is still in pain from an accident that happened 23 months ago. Unfortunately, no doctor is able to help him. At some point he has an epiphany: “If I could somehow hike 2,000 miles on the Appalachian Trail, then my leg will have to be better.” And of he goes! An inspiring story you have to read when you plan on hiking this epic trail.
A well written interesting tale of a man's journey on the AT while recovering from a devastating injury.
I bought this book because of my interest in hiking, but found it was also a very inspiring story about perseverance. - Customer review at Amazon.com
Into Thin Air
Into Thin Air is another book by journalist and mountaineer Jon Krakauer and this is also a must-read! He went on a guided expedition to Mount Everest to write an article about the increasing commercialization of climbing Mount Everest. Making it to the top was one of his dreams.
When the group hiked back down, they were caught in a severe snowstorm. This led to the death of 8 climbers. As you can imagine, it was a big tragedy and this book shows you how much can go wrong during a hike.
"[Krakauer] has produced a narrative that is both meticulously researched and deftly constructed. Unlike the expedition, his story rushes irresistibly forward. But perhaps Mr. Krakauer's greatest achievement is his evocation of the deadly storm, his ability to re-create its effects with a lucid and terrifying intimacy." —Alastair Scott, The New York Times Book Review
She Explores: Stories of Life-Changing Adventures on the Road and in the Wild
She Explores is a book filled with stories by adventurous women. There are several stories of women that went on very long hikes, but also women who live in vans or bike through the country. A very inspiring book that also includes practical tips for your next adventure.
For every woman who has ever been called outdoorsy comes a collection of stories that inspires unforgettable adventure.
Wild by Nature: From Siberia to Australia, Three Years Alone in the Wilderness on Foot
There are hiking adventures and HIKING ADVENTURES. Sarah Marquis hiked over 10,000 miles in three years. An incredible adventure that took her through the jungle in Laos and Thailand, and through Australia. Wild by Nature tells an epic story by a female solo hiker.
"A vibrant epic, this wondrous book is, at its core, a story of resilience. Marquis is industrious, and I recommend this book to all people seeking to discover the massive magnitude of their own potential power. A triumph!" -Aspen Matis, author of Girl in the Woods: A Memoir
Books about long-distance trails
Do you dream of ever going on a long-distance hike? Or do you just want to know what it is like to hike a long-distance trail? Many hikers share their memories of hiking a long-distance trail in a book. These are some of the most amazing books about hiking a long-distance trail.
Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail
Have you ever heard of Emma Gatewood? She was the first woman to complete the Appalachian Trail in 1955. And she was already 67 years old! After that, she did it two more times and also hiked a large section of the Oregon Trail. Her hiking adventures caught the eye of the local media and not much later she became an icon. Grandma Gatewood’s Walk by Ben Montgomery tells her inspiring story.
“Go, Granny, Go! . . . This astonishing tale will send you looking for your hiking boots. A wonderful story, wonderfully told.” —CHARLES MCNAIR, BOOKS EDITOR AT PASTE MAGAZINE AND AUTHOR OF PICKETT’S CHARGE
The Great Alone: Walking the Pacific Crest Trail
I read The Great Alone: Walking the Pacific Crest Trail by Tim Voors (one of my fellow Dutch PCT hikers) with a big smile on my face, what a feast of recognition! He clearly describes what it is like to leave his wife and children behind for six months to walk the Pacific Crest Trail (from Mexico to Canada). What I found especially recognizable, is that during a hike like this, you’ll make friends with people you would never meet in your everyday life.
Want to read more books about this epic trail? Check out: 12 Amazing books about the Pacific Crest Trail
Journeys North: The Pacific Crest Trail
I know, Journeys North: The Pacific Crest Trail is another book about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s written by Barney Scout Mann, a well-known hiker in the PCT community. He and his wife welcomed hundreds (or maybe even thousands!) of PCT hikers in their homes in San Diego. Preparing them for the hike that will change their lives. His book is about the hike of six completely different people who all have different views on their hike. A very interesting read!
A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
One of the most famous long-distance hikes in the United States of America is the Appalachian Trail (from Georgia to Maine) and this trail is the subject of Bill Bryson’s book A Walk in the Woods.
Bill Bryson describes his hike on the Appalachian Trail in a very funny way and it was even made into a film in 2015 with the likes of Robert Redford and Emma Thompson.
“Bryson is a very funny writer who could wring humor from a clammy sleeping bag.” –The Philadelphia Inquirer
Six Months With Three Pairs Of Undies: The Pacific Crest Trail
Yes, there are a lot of books about the PCT, but Six Months With Three Pairs Of Undies: The Pacific Crest Trail by André de Jel and Lian de Jel is another one to add to your reading list. This Dutch couple walked the entire trail and tells their story in this book. It is an emotional rollercoaster and it is refreshing that the story is described from both André’s point of view and from Lian’s point of view.
"Well written with a great sense of humor. It felt like I was with youall the time. Especially at the end. I'm not a hiker, but I feel likeI've been there and done it. Thank you so much!" - M. Rutherford
The Salt Path: A Memoir
After a few dramatic events, Raynor Winn and her husband, in desperation, decide to hike the ancient South West Coast Path along the south coast of England. She shares her feelings about the hike and herself in the book The Salt Path. It’s very inspiring and I found it one of the best hiking books from the past years. You learn a lot about the healing power of nature.
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
I just have to add Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed to this list of best books for hikers. This is an absolute classic and it might even be the most famous book about hiking a long-distance trail that’s ever written.
Cheryl goes out on the trail in the Mojave Desert completely untrained and ignorant and that results in hilarious and moving situations. She ends up hiking 1100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. The book was made into a movie in 2014 with award-winning actress Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl.
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again.
Two Steps Forward: A Novel
Unlike most other books about hiking a long-distance trail, this is not a true story, but a humorous novel about the Camino in Spain. You may know writer Graeme Simsion from his book The Rosie Project and Two Steps Forward is written in the same style. It’s funny, light-hearted, and moving.
“The feeling of camaraderie between strangers from around the world brings a warmth to the narrative, making it personal, real, and inviting. With wit and wisdom, Simsion and Buist have crafted a novel that will have readers wanting to walk a Camino of their own.” - Kirkus Reviews
Want to read more about the Camino? I hiked a section of the Camino del Norte in the summer of 2022. Read my trail journal here.
Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail
Jennifer Pharr Davis didn’t know what to do after graduating college, so she hiked the Appalachian Trail. Without any experience or preparation, can she make the 2175-mile journey from Georgia to Maine? In Becoming Odyssa she tells the story of the most physical and emotional time of her life.
With every step she takes, Jennifer transitions from an over-confident college graduate to a student of the trail. As she travels along the ridges of the ancient mountain chain, she realizes that she isn’t walking through nature—she realizes she is part of nature.
Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart: An Adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail
Are you looking for a real trail diary? Then you might like Carrot Quinn’s book Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart. She tells the story about her hike on the PCT in a humorous way. It’s a real journal, and it’s really fun to experience the hike together with the writer. You’ll also learn that a thru-hike is definitely not a walk in the park. The struggle is real!
A Million Steps
Hiking the Camino de Santiago can change your life. That’s what you discover when you read A Million Steps by Kurt Koonz. Although he thought he was well prepared, hiking the Camino was so much more than just a long scenic walk. In the book, he tells you everything about the meaningful connections he makes and he also deals with his history with addiction and recovery.
With outgoing humor and friendliness, he embraces the beauty of the countryside and joyful connections to other pilgrims from around the world. Part diary, part travelogue, A Million Steps is a journey within a journey all the way to the Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela and beyond.
Want to read more about the Camino? Check out this list with the best books on Camino de Santiago.
Tips & benefits of hiking
Did you know that hiking is really good for your health? Whether you go on a short day hike or a multi-week backpacking trip, it’ll make you a different person. These are a few books with practical hiking tips and how hiking benefits your health.
How to Survive Your First Trip in the Wild: Backpacking for Beginners
If you’d like to go backpacking someday, but don’t know where to start, How to Survive Your First Trip in the Wild: Backpacking for Beginners is a great guide. It tells you what to pack, how to plan, and how to navigate.
"You can learn to backpack in one of two ways: the hard way, through miserable and expensive trial and error; or from an expert like Paul, who has hiked tens of thousands of miles and has spent hundreds of days in the field. This book is full of honest, practical, and accurate advice that is ideally suited for first-time and beginner backpackers." - Andrew Skurka, Guide, writer, and National Geographic "Adventurer of the Year"
How to Walk (Mindfulness Essentials)
For many people, walking is more than just being outside. It can also be very healthy for your mind. In the book How to walk, Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh teaches you how to combine walking with meditation and mindfulness. This way you learn to enjoy every step you take.
Walking: One Step At a Time
Walking is fun and can take you further in life. How? Norwegian explorer Erling Kagge explains this to you in his book Walking: One Step At a Time. For him, there is nothing more important in life than walking, because you learn to live more slowly and look at things better.
A renowned explorer and acclaimed author shows us that walking is a natural accompaniment to creativity—and among the most radical things we can do. “Simple, profound … compelling … [a book that] packs a surprisingly motivational punch” (GQ).
Wilderness Navigation: Finding Your Way Using Map, Compass, Altimeter & GPS
Are you planning on hiking in the wilderness? Learn how to use a map and a compass! Wilderness Navigation is an essential guide for anyone who wants to go hiking in remote areas.
Walks In The Wild
Do you like to hike in the woods? Then the book Walks In The Wild by forest ranger Peter Wohlleben is a must-read. Not only do you learn which trees and animals you see during your hike, but also practical matters such as where to hide if there’s an unexpected storm.
How to Suffer Outside: A Beginner’s Guide to Hiking and Backpacking
Do you want to learn more about hiking and backpacking with a big smile on your face? Make sure to get How to Suffer Outside: A Beginner’s Guide to Hiking and Backpacking! This book by Diana Helmuth contains many colorful and funny illustrations by Latasha Dunston. It’s a refreshing field guide that tells you everything you need to know about how to survive your first solo hike.
Bestselling author of The Hidden Life of trees, Peter Wohlleben, lets you in on the quintessentials of his forestry knowledge. He invites you on an atmospheric journey of discovery. Learn to find your way around the woods without a compass or GPS, which berries and mushrooms are good to eat, how to read animal tracks and what it’s like to spend a night alone in a forest.
Afoot and Lighthearted: A Journal for Mindful Walking
Do you also want to learn to be more mindful during your hikes and do you need some practical tips? Then Afoot and Lighthearted: A Journal for Mindful Walking is a great resource. In this book, you will learn, among other things, about how to take a break from your digital life and tap into your creativity.
SILVER MEDAL WINNER OF THE NAUTILUS BOOK AWARD • “Beautifully designed . . . I’d like to give a copy of this smart, fetching book to everyone I know.”—Susannah Felts, BookPage
The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide: Tools and Techniques to Hit the Trail
When you’re planning on backpacking for the first time, it can be overwhelming to figure out which gear you need. The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide by National Geographic is definitely a big help. It contains detailed information about what to wear, the differences between sleep systems, and what to eat on the trail. A perfect book to prepare yourself for that very first epic hike.
“Breath of fresh air” “I learned most of this backpacker voodoo the hard way, wasting hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on the wrong gear for the conditions I had to hike in. Instead, Andrew distills the knowledge you need in a very readable book that is chock full of war stories, gear recommendations, and sample gear lists.” – sectionhiker.com
On Trails: An Exploration
This book by Robert Moor is a search for the wisdom of trails. Why do people hike? Why hike the long trails? How does it make people feel? In On Trails: An Exploration, Moor interviews several hikers asking about their journey. A book with a very interesting take on why we hike.
The Hiking Logbook
Would you like to write down your thoughts when you’re hiking? Or do you want to keep a diary during an epic long-distance hike? The Hiking Logbook is a perfect gift for you!
My First Hiking ABC Picture Book
How to get your kids to like hiking? Get them My First Hiking ABC Picture Book! This book is designed for babies and toddlers and contains colorful images that have everything to do with hiking.
🥾 A colorful page for each letter of the alphabet A-Z
🦅 Full color pages with cute hiking illustrations
🌼 Each page is an opportunity for family sharing and learning with your little one
🦌 A fun hiking gift that is perfect for every baby's nursery
These were some of the best books for hikers. I hope you liked my selection!
Are you looking forward to an outdoor adventure and do you want to read more about hiking? You might like to read one of these articles as well:
- 30 Best Books about the Outdoors
- 24 fun & interesting facts about hiking
- Bucket list: the best day hikes in the world
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This article was published in March 2021. Last update with more great books about hiking: November 2023.
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