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America's Great Hiking Trails: Appalachian, Pacific Crest, Continental Divide, North Country, Ice Age, Potomac Heritage, Florida, Natchez Trace, Arizona, Pacific Northwest, New England Hardcover – September 23, 2014
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“Not only a beautiful specimen of a book; but the passion for hiking is oozing from its pages. The writing is beautifully crafted and the images do justice to the words.” -Society of American Travel Writers Eastern Chapter
“Big books and long walks—not an obvious match. But America’s Great Hiking Trails might become a trekking essential. It covers the 11 routes in the National Scenic Trails system, from the iconic Appalachian to the lesser-known (and swampy) Florida Trail. With history, highlights, maps, and a wealth of photos of each byway, the book is a source of inspiration as well as a planning tool.” -The Wall Street Journal
“2015 Lowell Thomas Travel Award for Best Travel Book: Broad and deep reporting by Karen Berger combined with the skilled photography of Bart Smith make this not only a beautiful book to hold and skim, but also an extremely informative book for hikers. To produce this, Berger walked more than 10,000 miles and Smith trekked all 18,000 miles on the 11 trails. Every chapter is marked by excellence.”
-- Society of American Travel Writers Foundation
“What makes a hiking trail ‘great?’ What makes it iconic? Author Karen Berger explores America's great hiking trails in this photo-rich coffee-table book. America's Great Hiking Trails should help readers plan the hike that works best for them. Individual chapters describe the essence of what makes each national scenic trail unique…the Appalachian Trail, which starts in Maine and ends in Georgia, is on many hikers’ bucket lists even though it is rarely more than a two- or three-hour drive from major cities; it is hardly the most dramatic of the national trails, nor is it the toughest. And yet the allure endures. Why? Berger suggests that the Appalachian Trail is more than the sum of its parts. Its lasting appeal lies with its contradictions, between ‘humans and wilderness, towns and trails, solitude and community. The book features excellent writing, with gorgeous photography by Bart Smith.” –Chicago Tribune
“The best holiday gift of the year for thru-hikers. Covering forty of the most important trails in America (including the long ones), this gorgeously illustrated book will have you salivating to hit the AT, stat.” –Backpacker Magazine
“Best Outdoor Book of the Year. Beautifully illustrated and meticulously detailed, this is every hiker’s dream book. It follows 11 of America’s historic long-distance trails including the Continental Divide Trail running through Montana to New Mexico. A wonderful coffee table book, Berger and Smith detail specific needs for hikers, while inspiring them with breathtaking photography and flawless storytelling. This is a perfect bucket list for hikers of all ages.” –Vail Daily
“When this whopper of a coffee table book showed up at our doorstep, I was amazed at its heft. We own a lot of hiking books, including many others written by Karen Berger or photographed by Bart Smith. But America’s Great Hiking Trails is different. It’s not a ‘go here, do this’ type of book. Instead, it dares you to dream. The saga of the National Trails System unfolds over its 336 pages, beginning with the genesis of the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, the oldest and most well-known of America’s long distance trails. You’ll discover how each of the 11 trails came to be, what they mean to hikers and volunteers, and where they can lead you. Each chapter is capped off with a round-up of the best destinations along the trail…not just for hikers, but for anyone who daydreams of a cabin in the woods and a quiet walk under the pines.” –FloridaHikes.com
“The most anticipated hiking book of 2014. The subtitle says it all: eleven official, American long distance trails. Well-known hiking author Karen Berger has done a magnificent job in conveying the excitement that each of these trails generates. And peerless hiking photographer Bart Smith provides images to match the grandeur of our eleven ‘national scenic trails,’ congressionally-designated routes that showcase our scenery, history, and adventure. Part of the significance of America’s Great Hiking Trails is that—a half century out— it shows us what we have accomplished and it makes us wonder what additional steps are needed to create a truly comprehensive system.” –Ron Strickland
“Year’s Best Books for Travelers. Sure, you’re content to hike your local trails week after week, but there’s always someone in the group who aspires to go bigger. America’s Great Hiking Trails compiles more than 50,000 miles of trails in one beautifully photographed tome. Eight national parks in 49 states, gorgeous photos, and lots of details about each featured trail make this book a nature lover’s bible. At a pace of four miles per hour you won’t have to gift again until 2071.” -Yahoo Travel
“Ever wonder what it’s like to be one of those thru-hikers we’ve seen tackling the Appalachian Trail alone or sometimes even with a dog for companionship? In the foreword to this 325-page fact-filled invitation to eleven of America’s great national scenic hiking trails, Vermont environmentalist Bill McKibben writes that this will guide you to ‘Beautiful places...few people will come back from these long hikes unchanged. If there’s a possibility you will never hike or visit any of these long-distance trails, you can still marvel at the outstanding beauty they portray as seen in the hundreds of natural scenery and wildlife photographs. Photographer Bart Smith invites you to imagine you are on the very walkways he has pictured for you to see—paths through forests and woods, along rocky cliffs, through fields of flowers, crossing waterways, using footbridges or ladders over barriers, and through desert crossings and mountain passes.” –Vermont Country Sampler
“The stunning photographs take the reader on a visual adventure conducted by Bart Smith, the first person to hike all eleven national scenic trails from end to end. America’s Great Hiking Trails is perfect for anyone interested in outdoor recreation and conservation.” –Pathways
“America's Great Hiking Trails is a hardcover Mac Daddy of hiking books, loaded with 336 pages of drop dead gorgeous photographs and a glimpse into eleven of the country's most iconic hiking trails. Author Karen Berger is a well-seasoned hiker and she invites us to explore, discover and delight in trails that will take you through practically any terrain the country can offer. Photographer Bart Smith was the first person to hike all eleven of these scenic trails and he has the photographs that will make your jaw drop. Together they have created a gem that will inspire you to embark on a journey of discovery. After reading this book I dare you to tell me that at some point you didn't imagine yourself hiking at least a small section of one of these scenic trails.” –Snug Harbour Bay
About the Author
Karen Berger has hiked more than 17,000 miles all over the world, including thru-hikes of the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide trails. She is the author of eleven other books on hiking. Bart Smith’s photography has been published in Smithsonian and National Geographic, as well as in five illustrated books. Bill McKibben is an environmentalist and writer who frequently contributes to the New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, and Outside.
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But I mention noting minor faults for a reason; it is because, unlike the vast majority of coffee table books, this one is imminently readable. So much so that I read every word. How many books like this can one say that for? And of course the photos are stunning. If you don't finish this book with an expanded bucket list, you have no soul. I found myself wanting to hike the Ice Age Trail and New England trails, routes I hardly knew about, after reading this book.
The real treasure of this volume though are the stories of the many dreamers who conceived of and built these trails: from BentonMacKay to his many modern heirs who conceived of grand trails and then found others to help them build them. None of these trails were built by the government: all truly represent the power of community involvement. Even today, when the National Trails Act provides some measure of federal protection, these trails receive their maintenance and the bulk of their funding from hikers. Ultimately, this is a story of how communities can create positive changes in our world. And it comes beautifully written and photographed. Highly recommended!