New Book: America’s Great Hiking Trails

america's great hiking trails

Over the last 25 years, I’ve walked some 18,000 miles worldwide. More than half of those miles have been walked on the 11 American footpaths known as the “National Scenic Trails.”

From the green hollows of the Appalachian Trail to the highest peaks of Colorado and California, from the drylands of the southwest to the wetlands of Florida, these trails take hikers and walkers through a panoply of American  landscapes. I’ve had the opportunity to complete four of these trails in their entirety, as well as many miles on the rest of them. In this book, I explore what is unique about each of the national scenic trails: I went in search of each one’s “soul; if you will.

Bart Smith, who photographed this volume has accomplished the so far unique feat of walking each mile of each of these trails — which adds up to 18,000 miles. The record of his visual interpretation of these landscapes is contained in this book, as well. And we are honored to have a foreword by Bill McKibben.

Please join us as we explore the beauty, wonder, and drama of the American wilderness.

You can buy it here, or ask your local independent bookseller.

The following text is taken from the publisher’s press release.


Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail, North Country Trail, Ice Age Trail, Potomac Heritage Trail, Florida Trail, Natchez Trace Trail, Arizona Trail, Pacific Northwest Trail, New England Trail

By Karen Berger

Photography by Bart Smith, Foreword by Bill McKibben

In association with the Partnership for the National Trails System (PNTS)

Rizzoli New York / September 2014 / $50.00 US / ISBN: 978-0-7893- 2741-3 / Hardcover / 336 pages / 10̎ x 10̎

“A hiking trail doesn’t try to smooth out every hollow and soften every curve. It climbs, falls, slips, doubles back on itself. People have done countless hours of volunteer work building steps and water bars (who has ever volunteered to maintain a highway?), but even so there’s inescapable mud when it rains. And inescapable effort. The effort is the point. You’re headed up to the hills for the joy of the effort. And so the sights you see are more beautiful than the sights that come effortlessly in through the windshield. You earn each joy.” Bill McKibben, from the Foreword

“What these trails have in common is the dream. Without exception, long trails exist because someone dreamed of making connections: connections between landscapes, mountains, historic sites, national parks, remote wildernesses, communities, and individuals. As a group, the national scenic trails offer nothing less than an outdoor diorama of the entire American landscape. Dotted with historical sites, speckled with stories, and displaying a range of ecological communities and geological formations so vast as to defy description, these 11 trails traverse or touch upon many, even most, of the nation’s most iconic landscapes.” – Karen Berger, from the Introduction

AMERICA’S GREAT HIKING TRAILS is a hiker’s dream bucket list, embodying more than 18,000 miles of America’s most iconic trails in this lavishly illustrated tome. Literally tens of millions of tourists and hikers visit these trails each year, some of which wind through the country’s most scenic natural wonders and virtually every major ecosystem in America. Covering the legendary trails from the Appalachian to the Continental Divide to the Pacific Crest and the grandfather of all trails, Vermont’s Long Trail, this volume will satisfy the thru-hiker and inspire the day hiker.

Each featured trail has its own section, complete with a map and photo gallery. Karen Berger invites the reader on an exploration of what makes each one of the most magnificent hiking experiences anywhere in the world. Trail histories accompany detailed hiker-friendly descriptions that highlight the most scenic spots, along with suggestions for shorter weekend and day hikes. 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. ABOUT THE AUTHOR AND CONTRIBUTORS: Karen Berger is the author of 15 other books, including Where the Waters Divide, an account of her 3,000-mile walk on the CDT. She has hiked more than 17,000 miles all over the world, including thru-hikes of the Triple Crown trails (the AT, the PCT, and the CDT) and the Arizona Trail, and section hikes on all of the national scenic trails. She is publisher and editor of the award-winning travel website

Bart Smith is the first person to walk all 11 of America’s national scenic trails. His photography has been published in Smithsonian and National Geographic magazines, as well as in five coffee-table books. His latest project is walking and photographically documenting the national historic trails. Bill McKibben is an environmentalist and writer who frequently contributes to The New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, and Outside. The Partnership for the National Trails System (PNTS) connects member nonprofit trail organizations and federal agency partners to further the protection, completion, and stewardship of the 11 national scenic trails, as well as the historic trails, within the National Trails System.

Credit line for the book must read: © America’s Great Hiking Trails by Karen Berger, Rizzoli New York, 2014. All

photography © Bart Smith, but no images may be used, in print or electronically, without written consent from the publisher. Serial rights are available; please contact Jessica Napp @ 212 387 3436 or

Rizzoli International Publications, Inc.  300 Park Avenue South New York, NY 10010  Tel. (212) 387-3400 Telefax (212) 387-3535


By Karen Berger, Photography by Bart Smith, Foreword by Bill McKibben

In association with the Partnership for the National Trails System (PNTS)

Rizzoli New York

Publication Date: September 2014

PRICE: $50.00 US & CAN / £30.00

ISBN: 978-0-7893-2741-3 / Hardcover / 336 pages / 10̎ x 10̎

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