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The Appalachian Trail is the longest continuous footpath in the world Its 2,140 miles run through 14 states from Georgia to Maine and vastly different natural and social environments, from the solitary splendor of mountain crags to the genial slopes frequented by dayhikers and scout packs Each year, than three million visitors enjoy the diverse scenery and cultures of the trail, united by a common appreciation for the outdoors A lively and evocative introduction to this national treasure, The Appalachian Trail Reader collects stories, poems, and essays that reflect this wilderness trail across both time and geography Here are the works of both well known writers and anonymous raconteurs, including Henry David Thoreau, James Dickey, Aldo Leopold, Washington Irving, James MacGregor Burns, Richard Wilbur, and many others, as well as excerpts from the diaries and letters of modern day visitors Hikers' private journals stand next to scientists' close observations of the natural world, and these readings mingle with poets' evocations of meaningful music heard in the wind, in birdsong, or in the babbling brooks Here, too, are historians, who remind us of how Appalachian culture developed, and early explorers, reporting the thrill of seeing uncharted territory and wildlife for the first time Taken as a whole, this patchwork quilt of voices both eloquent and raw offers a surprisingly varied pattern of appreciation for the wilds of the Appalachians With the addition of maps of the trail and photographs of its majesty, The Appalachian Trail Reader presents a rich introduction to the trail for those planning a trip, and a vivid scrapbook for those who've already visited Originally conceived as an antidote to the competitive, fast paced, and increasingly urban civilization that America was becoming, the Appalachian Trail is than an experience of geology and natural history; indeed, it is a vast open air cathedral where the emotions and the senses unite The Appalachian Trail Reader bears out this spirit, offering a heart felt appreciation of one of our greatest natural resources while it presents an opportunity to escape the stresses of everyday life and revel in the inestimable value of a wilderness experience.


10 thoughts on “The Appalachian Trail Reader (Official Guides to the Appalachian Trail)

  1. Grace Grace says:

    Loved this collection when I read it many years ago, I need to find it again. it’s a collection of stories and essays/excerpts covering the science & natural history of the Appalachians, and poems and trail diaries of those who have hiked the AT. I especially loved the essays detailing the history of the forest and landscape. it was really a magical read, as I remember it. I felt immersed in this “place” that really is not just one place at all.


  2. Pamela Pamela says:

    This wonderful book is not just a collection of hiker's trail diaries. It also includes essays, poetry, and letters. I didn't read every single entry nor do I think every entry I did read actually deserves 5 stars, but overall this is just fabulous. The reader is informed about the geology and history of the Appalachian Mountains themselves, along with the policies that resulted in the construction of the trail. If you don't want to read an individual hiker's memoir this is a great way to get a flavor of what that accomplishment entails.


  3. Kristofer Petersen-Overton Kristofer Petersen-Overton says:

    A superb anthology! Emblidge weaves the work of historians, folklorists, hikers, essayists, and poets together in this ode to the Appalachian trail. It includes everything from reflections on the changing role of the backpack to the Cherokee legend of "Spearfinger" (a witch who apparently still haunts North Carolina's Whiteside Mountain) to the historic injustice perpetrated against Appalachian communities forced from their lands by the federal government to make way for the AT. It also contains excerpts from countless thru-hiker journals and published work. This is *not* a book to read if you're looking for advice while planning your expedition (although it contains some advice). It *is* a book to read however if the wilderness holds a special awe for you. This collection has something for every hiker. I couldn't put it down.


  4. Sandra Larkin Sandra Larkin says:

    Heaven knows I am not an athletic person but I can walk and maybe with a little conditioning even hike. Having read Bill Bryson's book on the Appalachian Trail, I recently took my own short walk in the woods on the AT at Gathland State Park and Harpers Ferry and became hooked! I set out to learn more and came across this excellent collection of trail diaries, historical and personal essays, and poems that reflect the meaning of this great wilderness trail.

    Fortunately for me, the Appalachian Trail in Maryland is a forty-mile section along the backbone of South Mountain, and is easy by AT standards. It is also said to be a good place to find out if you're ready for more rugged parts of the Trail. All I need now is a plan and a traveling companion.


  5. Nathanael Nathanael says:

    Like any anthology, this one had its good parts and it's rough patches. The best parts were highlights of people's self published and unpublished trail hiking memoirs. A thing as big as the AT attracts a huge assortment of people looking for and experiencing a huge assortment of purposes.

    And some of the histories were excellent. The Smokies are empty because we drove the people out, first the natives and then the mountain poor. New Hampshires first mountain dwellers almost immediately turned to travel and tourism rather than agriculture.

    In several parts, the book dragged on by publishing lengthy and detailed reports from botanists and geologists. These are people whose insight is keen, but literally lose the forest in the trees.


  6. Beth Feener Beth Feener says:



    I loved the book. I am driven more toward my goal to thru hike the trail.

    I enjoyed the personal logs from hikers. I especially would have loved to meet Grandma Gatewood.

    The historic parts included as we "hiked" through the book really made me love the value of this wonderful man made trail through the woods.

    The Walt Whitman's, "Song of the Open Road" piece was my favorite...I read it over a dozen times.


  7. Kathleen Seal Kathleen Seal says:



    A nice collection of AT essays from prominent scholars of the trail. Particularly good for information on the trail's early development and purpose. Some redundancy if you are already well versed on the trail. A nice reference book.


  8. Margaret Margaret says:

    A compilation of stories about theAppalachian Trail, some from hikers, others more technical. Some are wonderful and some are as dry as un-buttered toast. Got a nice book-list out of it.


  9. Markus Markus says:

    A Must read if you are infatuated with the AT : )


  10. Denise Denise says:

    never fully got through it, skipped around alot, only some stories held my interest