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Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway: The Ultimate Travel Guide to America's Most Popular Scenic Roadway (Regional Hiking Series) Paperback – June 1, 2003

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Editorial Reviews


"The Blue Ridge Parkway is the most popular gateway to our cherished mountains. Randy Johnson has given us the fullest account and most helpful guide to that lofty open road." --Robert Morgan, author of The New York Times best-seller, Gap Creek

"The definitive guide for Parkway hikers." --Harley E. Jolley, historian and author of The Blue Ridge Parkway

From the Back Cover

Stop your car, lace up your boots, and experience the best trails in the national forests, state parks, and private preserves that line the Blue Ridge Parkway. From the southern end of Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, this single-volume solution for the serious explorer points the way to the best of the 469-mile Parkway's outdoor experiences. Author and trail designer Randy Johnson leads you past historic homesteads and landmark sites, through multiday explorations of isolated wilderness enclaves, and up to some of the East's highest peaks, offering insights into Southern Appalachia's unique cultural heritage and showcasing the natural beauty that makes this scenic roadway a historical and national treasure.

Inside you'll find: in-depth descriptions with difficulty ratings and detailed directions; more than 70 detailed topographic trail maps; a complete Parkway mileage log to all overlooks and waysides, entrances and exits, interpretive sites, visitor centers, craft shops, dozens of descriptive photographs, and easy "leg-stretcher" trails.

No matter what your skill level or abilities, Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway is an indispensable resource to the most heavily visited unit of the National Park system and a portal to the Southern Appalachian experience.

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Product Details

  • Series: Regional Hiking Series
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: FalconGuides; 1st edition (June 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0762711051
  • ISBN-13: 978-0762711055
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,181,483 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

My goal is to write guide books that engage readers as much as the articles I publish in national magazines and newspapers (some have won awards from the Society of American Travel Writers and North American Travel Journalists Association).

Check out a winter 2011 article and video about Mount Mitchell:

"Hiking North Carolina," is the bestselling statewide trail guide and the newest printing includes many updates. "Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway" and "Best Easy Day Hikes Blue Ridge Parkway" are bestsellers, both just revised and expanded in 2010. And the new "Best Easy Day Hikes Great Smoky Mountains National Park" is one of only four books in the popular "Best Easy" series to be bundled with a National Geographic/Trails Illustrated map (of the Great Smokies, at a great price!).

I'm a writer and photojournalist, but part of what makes my books different is that I'm a trail professional, too. Trail managing agencies have adopted trail suggestions recommended in my books. I founded the trail program at Grandfather Mountain, designed and built new trails, and orchestrated backcountry research that helped the mountain become the world's only privately-owned Biosphere Reserve (and now a state park). During the completion of the Blue Ridge Parkway at Grandfather, I helped create the trail network that's in place today.

The professional trail builder/manager part of my life isn't past. I was just named the task force leader for the Mountains-to-Sea Trail along Grandfather Mountain's Tanawha Trail to Blowing Rock, NC. I'll be teaching trail building workshops for the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail in 2011 (www.ncmst.org/).

Writing books that help people find outdoor adventure gives me the same satisfaction I get designing and building new trails, or just advising hikers I used to meet in the Grandfather backcountry. That's why my books' trail descriptions explore an entire area, recommend a range of hikes, and include history, ecology, climate, and culture.

My passion for sharing the outdoors is why I'm especially honored when someone buys one of my guides, perhaps at a signing, and asks me to sign it for someone they love and want to encourage to get out on the trail, to get fit--and enjoy nature with the gift-giver!

As a longtime photojournalist, I know photos impart a true sense of place, and most of my books include a lot. My pictures have appeared in Backpacker and Outside. I've photographed European ski areas for "SKI Magazine," had full-page photo spreads in "USA Today." And I'm a bona-fide map fanatic. My books have plentiful, accurate maps.

Along the way I've been a founding editor of "The Mountain Times" in Boone, mountain columnist for "The Charlotte Observer," and until 2009, the longtime editor-in-chief of United Airlines' "Hemispheres," the United States' most award-winning inflight magazine (named "World's Best inflight" in 2006).

Today, I'm expanding my list of books. Expect an upcoming revision of "Southern Snow: The Winter Guide to Dixie" (it's been called a "cult classic"). Please troll around on Amazon for the latest. And check out my Web site--www.randyjohnsonbooks.com--to read many published articles, view my trail videos, and a schedule of presentations.

I hope you'll consider my guides. Here's wishing you the kind of hiking experiences that inspire me to write them!

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Grizzle on June 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
As someone who lives near and regularly hikes trails along the Blue Ridge Parkway, I commend Randy Johnson's excellent "Hiking The Blue Ridge Parkway." First, I love the author's dedication . . .
To past and present Appalachian families - the people who know how much you have to love the mountains to make a living there. And to the men and women of the Blue Ridge Parkway - who help the rest of us appreciate why it's worth the effort.
It shows the author's love, and indeed respect, for the region he so ably writes about.
As a guide, the book features 72 maps, the great majority of them, 68 by my count, being detailed topographic maps that will satisfy even the most serious hikers. The author has included a topo map for virtually every hike, something that is fairly unprecedented in this book genre. I've never understood how you can have a trail guide that expects people to read a trail description without a map to look at. The book also includes lots of good photos.
I appreciate the fact that the author provides broad cultural, geographic and historical overviews aimed not only at educating the reader about the region but also at explaining how to craft a hike to match the hiker's interests.
The mileage log in the rear of the book also provides travel information and observations that make this back-of-book section almost worthy of a separate guidebook itself.
Moreover, the author not only covers trails along the Parkway but also trails near the Parkway. The summit of Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak in the Eastern United States, for example, is five miles off the Parkway, but thankfully the author covers the beautiful trails there. The book also includes the region's only truly urban hike, Asheville's Urban Trail.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Mark File on March 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
As an avid hiker, I struggle to find detailed maps and descriptions of hikes. My time is limited, so I love to find out exactly what to expect on a hike before I begin. "Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway" has become my primary reference to discovering new hikes that are easy to find. It is very evident that Mr. Johnson has hiked all of the trails because of the great details such as "don't get sucked down the old trail... bear right to reach the junction with two signs."

I know how easy to take a wrong turn on hike, so such details are very helpful. However, my favorite part of the book are the detailed topo maps. When I set out on a hike from the book, I make a copy of the desription and map to take with me. I refer to the map a lot (to avoid those wrong turns!). The mileage log in the back of the book gives a great mile-by-mile account of the Parkway.

There are many amazing hikes along the Parkway. Don't miss them!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Bob Walker III on June 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
As a child, I first hiked trails along the Blue Ridge Parkway with my father more than 40 years ago, and over the decades I've continued to return with a sense of awe at the area's spectacular beauty and rich seasonal variety. But what has been lacking for all of that time is a trail guide that mixes knowledgeable commentary and accurate descriptions with good topographical maps and photos. "Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway," which I picked up just last week on the way to the mountains, now fills that void in exemplary fashion.
I've hiked a good many of the trails, but I was surprised and pleased to see that there are many that I've not yet tried-and now plan to experience. I can attest that my favorite hikes are described very accurately, with historical and geographical commentary that gives me a new appreciation for some of the places I thought I knew quite well. Details such as the topo maps, elevation gains, difficulty levels, and key-points lists really open up the trails for both beginners and experienced hikers. A 38-page Parkway mileage log at the back of the book is a handy reference for trails, facilities, and resources. I'm sure that this book will accompany thousands of hikers who want to get the most out of their Blue Ridge Parkway hiking experiences.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By John Vandenbergh on March 31, 2005
Format: Paperback
This guide leads hikers on some of the best trails along the Parkway. As a summer resident of the area I have been hiking the area for several years and I still learned from this guide. As a biologist, I particularly liked the coverage of plants and animals of the area.
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