It’s finally cozy season, which means it’s time to pack more clothes for the trail and a warm quilt for your tent. Late fall is also when I start to stay inside more to stay warm. You can use books as a way to dream up new outdoor adventures, learn more about nature, and pass the time while you wait for better hiking conditions.
We’ve put together a list of nine of the best hiking books that you can buy this fall. Even though these books are from different genres, they all touch on the same things. It’s common for them to talk about outdoor adventures, like how they kept going even when it was hard to get through tough trips in the great outdoors. People have written about how humans interact with nature and what that means for us. Some of them are thought-provoking. These books all have the same main idea. Gratitude for the wild places we love to go to and see.
On Trails: An Exploration, Robert Moor
People who hike are usually very interested in the trails. Robert Moor, on the other hand, takes this interest to a whole new level, though. In this book, Moor spends nearly a decade hiking trails all over the world to learn more about how they’re made and how they’re kept up. He also tries to figure out why humans are drawn to trails and how they connect us to the world around us. As you read this book, you’ll learn about trail history, science, technology, and psychology. There are so many different ideas and questions in this book that it’s hard to figure out one main point. There is one thing that everyone agrees on: the line between society and nature has always been a little blurry. Trails are a great way to learn about both nature and our relationship with it.
A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson
He’s a well-known travel writer, and he and his friend decided to try to hike the Appalachian Trail all the way to the end, even though neither of them had done it before. He is very witty and funny as the two slowly drive from Georgia to Maine, which is about 2,200 miles.
Strange people show up along the way. They also stop in small rural towns, and they explain the natural history of the area. The two aren’t ready for the hike because they’re out of shape and don’t have good outdoor gear, but they keep going even when the trail is difficult and often boring.
Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold
If you like wild places, you can thank Aldo Leopold for that, too. If you think about how we interact with nature, he’s been ahead of the game for a long time. This book was a big step in the right direction. There are essays for each month of the year in the almanac, and each is full of beautiful words and insightful thoughts about how we are all connected to the earth’s ecosystems. The almanac has short essays for each month of the year on his 120-acre Wisconsin farm. One of my favorite things to learn about is how Earth’s ecosystems work together and act like one big organism.
For more than 70 years, this book has never been out of print. You can see why. This book turned out to be a lot of fun even though it’s been around for a long time.
Walks in the Wild: A Guide Through The Forest, Peter Wohlleben
It’s a good book to read if you want to learn more about hiking through the woods. In this short book, you’ll find a lot of little tips for making the most of your time in the woods. You’ll learn how to navigate through the forest and how to spot more wild animals. In Peter Wohlleben’s books, you’ll find a lot of interesting facts and insights that will make you think about things in a new way.
There are a lot of different types of plants and animals in forests. This small book will help you learn more about how deer populations affect tick populations and how ticks and the diseases they carry affect deer populations.
Into Thin Air, John Krakauer
In this book, there is a classic non-fiction story about a Mount Everest climb that went wrong. When a storm hit Mount Everest in 1996, it left hikers stuck at very high places. Jon Krakauer, one of the best adventure journalists, happened to be on a trip with other people. There is a thriller about how much can go wrong when you have a huge adventure in the wild.
It’s easy for people who have climbed mountains before to understand some of the technical parts about how to get up, but Krakauer does a great job of getting you into this fast-paced story no matter what your outdoor skills are.
Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart, Carrot Quinn
For the first time, Carrot Quinn walked the whole length of the Pacific Crest Trail. She was looking for a sense of community and answers to why she felt so disconnected and numb in the city. As she went on her journey, she made new friends and found a sense of belonging even though she was emotionally and physically exhausted from the journey.
This book is great because it talks about things like how to deal with aches and pains, changing weather, menstruation, hunger, and a whole lot more. This is an honest, stream-of-conscious account of the highs and lows of the trail, filled with hours of mundane things as well as moments of awe and wonder that you won’t forget.
Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer
There are a lot of books on this list about how humans interact with nature. Braiding Sweetgrass looks at how both indigenous knowledge and natural science show how humans are interdependent with plants as well as with other organisms and ecosystem processes that share our planet. Robin Wall Kimmerer is a botanist and a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, and this poetic book shares indigenous traditions and facts about the natural world that will make you think about how you interact with the world around you in a more grateful and wise way. It’s full of stories about life that people can relate to, as well as deep wisdom about the importance of traditions, gratitude, and being able to understand other people. Don’t be surprised if you change your mind about your whole role in the natural world.
Leave Only Footprints: My Acadia-to-Zion Journey Through Every National Park, Conor Knighton
It might be a dream of yours to visit all of the national parks in the United States. In this memoir, Conor Knighton decided to go to all of them in a year, and he did it all. It was part of his job for CBS Sunday Morning. He shot clips along the way. This book is both a personal story and a travelogue. It takes readers across the country to visit sprawling mountains, empty deserts, and everything in between.
By theme, Knighton organizes the national parks he goes to instead of by location. He weaves park history with his own life experiences and perspectives. In the end, you’ll love these “collective sanctuaries,” and you’ll be grateful for them.
The Sun is a Compass, Caroline Van Hemert
Some of the best reading comes from adventure travelogues written by humans. In 2012, Caroline Van Hemert was working on chickadees in her ornithology lab when she felt a little let down by the work. She wanted to leave her job and go on a journey of self-discovery. During her trip, she also wanted to get closer to her husband. She also wanted to reconnect with the wild and natural world. What comes to light is a six-month, 4,200-mile journey from the PNW to the Alaskan wilderness by foot, raft, skis, and canoe, all the way across the country. It’s Van Hemert’s skillful observations of the landscapes and animals that they see that make this adventure story so interesting. There are bears, caribou, migratory birds, and so much more that they see. If you like reading about cold climates, human-powered trips, rough wilderness, or contemplative adventures, this is the book for you, because it talks about these things.