17 Best Hiking Books: To Inspire You to Take a Hike and Dream Big

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When you can’t be on the trail, the next best thing is a hiking book that will make you feel like you are. Whether you’re an avid hiker or about to embark on an epic trail like the Appalachian Trail and are seeking inspiration, I share some of my favorite books about hiking that will inspire you to lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails.

Note: I’ve included books for hikers that are entertaining and focus on storytelling, and are more memoir-style and, most of all, inspiring.

Ones that share valuable lessons since I truly believe that hiking can change your life. Ones that show you can do more than you think you can because our thoughts do matter – and that hiking is a great time to practice changing our thoughts.

And to become aware of why we should surround ourselves with people who push us forward to reach our goals. 

So you won’t find any super practical “how-to” books, although many of the books do contain tips.

According to this article in Elemental Science:

A good adventure story has the ability to draw us into a world we might otherwise never explore. … We visit places we would normally never choose to go and sometimes glimpse a little spark of adventure inside us we didn’t know was there.

So if you’re looking for How to Hike type information, you’ll find plenty of information on our site. Start with Hiking for Beginners, and check out our Hiking Gear and Hiking Tip sections for a ton of resources.  

best hiking books for inspiration

Hiking Books Based in North America

For Discovering the Transformational Power o
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (Oprah's Book Club 2.0 1)

This bestselling memoir recounts author Cheryl Strayed's 1,100-mile solo hiking journey on the Pacific Crest Trail in 1995. It is an inspiring story of how she learned to cope with her past and find her inner strength.

Anyone who loves hiking, nature, personal growth, and feminist literature will be sure to enjoy this book. It's my favorite memoir hiking book. I also loved the movie starring Reese Witherspoon.

Buy on Amazon
Most Humorous and Fun to Read
A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail (Official Guides to the Appalachian Trail)

This memoir follows author Bill Bryson's journey along the 2,100-mile Appalachian trail through 14 states. It is an entertaining and informative narrative about his experiences with nature and the people he meets along the way.

This book is perfect for anyone who loves hiking and a good laugh. I laughed so much while reading this. It's one of my all-time favorite hiking books. 

Buy on Amazon
Power of 1 Woman Hiking Book
Grandma Gatewood's Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail

Emma Gatewood, known as Grandma Gatewood made history with her extraordinary journey of hiking the Appalachian Trail solo - twice and three times over! She pushed boundaries for women, completing this remarkable feat at age 65. Her fearless spirit gained widespread fame in the 1950s and 60s when she appeared on TV programs alongside Groucho Marx & Art Linkletter and was even featured in Sports Illustrated magazine.

Thanks to Grandma's vocal criticism about deteriorating trail conditions, she brought attention to an otherwise forgotten trail and ultimately saved it from extinction.

This biography is a loving tribute honoring all she achieved as a pioneering hiker who forever changed our view of adventure and the history of the Appalachian Trail.

Buy on Amazon
Camino-esque Account of the Pacific Crest Trail
Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart: An Adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail

This hiking guidebook is written from a female perspective and covers the physical, mental, and emotional challenges of hiking long trails. It also contains a wealth of useful advice on safety, gear, nutrition, and hiking strategies.

This book is ideal for anyone looking to understand the ins and outs of thru-hiking.

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If You Love the Grand Canyon
The Man Who Walked Through Time: The Story of the First Trip Afoot Through the Grand Canyon (Vintage Departures)

Colin Fletcher's eyes were opened to the soul-stirring beauty of the Grand Canyon in 1963. So inspired, he chose the immense challenge of being the first man to walk its length from rim to rim – an unthinkable feat for many who gaze out upon this canyon and wonder what lies beneath it.

This incredible journey redefined his perception as he withstood both physical strain on his body and mental strife stretching across every mile traversed beneath that awe-inspiring Rim

Buy on Amazon
When You Need Courage
Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home

In her remarkable new memoir, Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home, Heather--or "Anish" as she's called on the trail--shares an awe-inspiring journey fueled by courage and determination.

With unflinching perseverance in the face of gruelling physical pain, being alone in nature’s wildness, Anish discovers that records are just a stepping stone toward greater personal fulfillment; .having hiked what is known as the "Triple Crown" of backpacking: the Appalachian Trail (AT), Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), and Continental Divide Trail (CDT). while finally recognizing life could be more rewarding if lived out unpredictably but unafraid. It's a thought-provoking look at adventure both outwardly facing and from within.

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When You Think You're Too Old To Hike
How the WILD EFFECT Turned Me into a Hiker at 69: An Appalachian Trail Adventure

Jane Congdon was inspired to break out of her familiar life and experience a different kind of adventure. After reading Cheryl Strayed's popular memoir, Jane decided she, too, wanted to venture into the wilderness with little prior hiking experience. She spent an amazing 17 weeks on the Appalachian Trail - complete with 1,200 miles covered and accompanied by Ms Rabbit, her glass good luck charm!

Over this journey in nature-filled lands full of bears, wild pigs & changing weather conditions alike – Jane discovered something extraordinary about herself, learning both new perspectives regarding Mother Nature as well as Human Nature during this remarkable encounter along the way.

Buy on Amazon

Related Reading: 58 Best Wildlife Books That Animal Lovers Will Devour

Hiking Books Based in Europe

When You Want HIking + Philosophy
Hiking with Nietzsche: On Becoming Who You Are

Uncover the wisdom of Friedrich Nietzsche on a captivating alpine journey! In Hiking with Nietzsche: Becoming Who You Are, author John Kaag embarks on two treks up to Sils Maria - one as an introspective nineteen-year-old; and again seventeen years later, accompanied by his wife and small child.

Through contrasting perspectives, he discovers revelations about life’s complexities waiting at the peak mountainside – where once even Nietzsche sought solace in finding understanding into our true selves.

Buy on Amazon
If You're Planning On Walking the Camino de Santiago
The Walk of a Lifetime: 500 Miles on the Camino de Santiago

For 20 years, Russ Eanes dreamed of walking 500 miles of the Camino de Santiago. At age 61, he decided to make it happen by leaving in job and finally realizing a dream he'd held for so long. 

Buy on Amazon
Funniest UK Pick
Father, Son and the Pennine Way: 5 days, 90 miles - what could possibly go wrong?

Mark was longing to spend more time with his son before he went off to university and thought this was a good way to do it. The only problem is that he was a writer, not a walker.

Even if you're not a hiker, you'll love this honest and humorous book if you're a fan of Bill Bryson. Mark entertainingly shares what he learned about himself and what they learned about each other.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Mark years ago at a travel conference which were were both speaking at, and love reading books from people I've actually met in person.

Buy on Amazon
Poetry Along England's Pennine Way
Walking Home: A Poet's Journey

This poetic travelogue recounts British poet Simon Armitage’s journey along England's Pennine Way footpath from Yorkshire to Hadrian's Wall over a three-week period in May 2008.

Along with his musings on life and poetry, it also contains reflections on places he visited and people he met along the way.

Buy on Amazon
If You Love Walking +  Love British History
The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot (Landscapes)

The author goes off on a series of journeys across Britain while exploring its cultural history through hiking ancient paths that have been used since prehistory times such as pilgrim trails or old drover roads that have existed for centuries.

Buy on Amazon

Books About Hiking From Around the Globe

Babyboomers in Mongolia
Walking the Gobi: A 1600-Mile Trek Across a Desert of Hope and Despair

Helen Thayer's remarkable feat of endurance at age 63 is an inspiration to readers everywhere. Along with her 74-year old husband Bill and two camels, Helen pushed through scorching heat, raging sandstorms, limited supplies and dwindling energy in a courageous attempt to traverse 1600 miles across the Gobi Desert. Despite facing dangerous drug smugglers during their journey as well as suffering from dehydration and scorpion stings

Walking The Gobi invites you on an engaging expedition that dives into this unknown region filled with centuries-old cultures of nomadic citizens who have made even the toughest conditions home.

She's an inspiration to Baby Boomers showing there's so much life left to live and that it's never too late for an adventure.

Buy on Amazon
Hiking up Kilimanjaro at 300 Pounds
Gorge: My Journey Up Kilimanjaro at 300 Pounds

Despite a lifetime of negative emotions and food addiction, Kara Richardson Whitely hiked up Mt. Kilimanjaro weighing 300 pounds, by hrough sheer determination fueled by passion, endurance and self-acceptance. She fought through the gruelling conditions on one steep mountain side.

She shares her raw story of reaching the summit. Her inspiring trek speaks to every woman who has battled with their inner dialogue or feels that food is controlling them more than themselves.

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Solo Woman Adventure in the Australian Outback
Tracks: A Woman’s Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback

Setting off on an incredible 1,700-mile expedition across Australia's hostile outback desert in pursuit of adventure and self-discovery - all while accompanied by only four camels and a faithful canine companion!

Bravely enduring scorching heat waves to snake encounters along the way, Robyn's courageous spirit led her towards transformation as she gained insight from Indigenous people, eventually redefining herself through this life-changing journey, which was also turned into a major motion picture.  

Buy on Amazon

Photography/Coffee Table Hiking Books

Inspiration for Hikes Around the World
100 Hikes of a Lifetime: The World's Ultimate Scenic Trails

Get ready to explore the world with this inspirational guide! From breathtaking National Geographic photography, wisdom from hiking experts like Andrew Skurka, and wildlife-spotting tips - you'll find adventures around every corner.

Short day hikes or multiweek treks across all climates & continents await travelers; whether it's a meandering wine route in Switzerland, spotting moose on the Tetons of Wyoming USA, Mount Meru in Tanzania or Mt. Skala Norway - everyone can find their perfect hike no matter what skill level they have.

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Inspiration for Day Hikes in the U.S.
America's Best Day Hikes: Spectacular Single-Day Hikes Across the States

From soaring mountains to tranquil forests, America’s Best Day Hikes is your passport to exploring the breathtaking beauty of the U.S.

It guides you through some of the most memorable day hikes across every region in the United States with everything from difficulty levels and duration details so that you can be prepared for any seasonal hazards ahead. 

Buy on Amazon

Whether you’re looking for a hiking book for yourself or the perfect gift for a hiking buddy, you’ll now have plenty of inspiration.

Tell me your favorite book about hiking. I’m always looking for new reads. And be sure to check out our Adventure Books.

Share this post with a fellow book work who loves to hike. 

hiking books to inspire you to take a hike

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