The 4 Best Books About The Appalachian Trail

Are you looking for books about people hiking the Appalachian trail? 

If so, I will highlight the 4 best books about thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. These are all memoirs and non-fiction books about people who attempted the AT. These aren’t technical guides for how to hike the AT.

If you want the quick list:

  • North by Scott Jurek
  • A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
  • Where’s the Next Shelter by Gary Sizer
  • Grandma Gatewood’s Walk by Ben Montgomery

North by Scott Jurek

North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail
  • Jurek, Scott (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 336 Pages - 04/09/2019 (Publication Date) - Little, Brown Spark (Publisher)

North by Scott Jurek was the first book I read about the AT. I’ve read dozens of running-related books and one of my favorites was Eat and Run by Scott Jurek. I wanted to read another one of his so I read North.

North is Scott Jurke’s attempt to break the AT time record. The record (before Jurek) was 46 days and 11 hours. That’s something like 47 miles a day for a month and a half.

Jurek recounts his attempt and shares the highs and lows, Including his moments of pure exhaustion. 

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
  • Bryson, Bill (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 397 Pages - 12/26/2006 (Publication Date) - Vintage (Publisher)

A Walk in the Woods might be the most popular Appalachian trail book out there. It was even turned into a movie in 2015 and starred Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, and Emma Thompson.

Bill Bryson is a popular travel and science writer. In 1996, he decided to attempt to thru-hike the AT. The charm of this book is the humor. Bryson regularly uses humor to explain some of the outrageous moments that happened to him, such as the eccentric hikers he ran into along the trail. 

Bryson researched extensively about the trail and spends about half of the book talking about the history of the Appalachian Trail. He talks about the foliage and wildlife found on the trail. 

A fair warning, he doesn’t actually finish the trial and quits a few times. In all, he only hiked around 800 of the 2,200 miles. 

Where’s the Next Shelter by Gary Sizer

Where's the Next Shelter?
  • Sizer, Gary (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 332 Pages - 11/08/2015 (Publication Date) - CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (Publisher)

Where’s the Next Shelter by Gary Sizer is probably the best memoir about hiking the Appalachian Trail. Sizer (AKA Green Giant) is an experienced backpacker who quits his job so he can hike the AT. He joins up with two others.

The writing in this book transports the reader into Sizer’s head. You experience his ups and downs (and there are many).

Grandma Gatewood’s Walk by Ben Montgomery

Grandma Gatewood's Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail
  • Montgomery, Ben (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages - 04/01/2016 (Publication Date) - Chicago Review Press (Publisher)

This book is about the famous hiker Emma Gatewood (AKA Grandma Gatewood). Gatewood was 67 years old when she decided to hike the entire Appalachian Trail alone. She became the first woman to complete the trial alone. She eventually did it two more times becoming the first person of any gender to hike the trail more than once.

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