Get Outside: Books to Inspire Wilderness Adventures

August 15, 2022 | M. Elwood

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Summer is a great time to explore the world around us! And this year it's even easier with the Ontario Parks Pass program. Anyone with a valid Toronto Public Library card can borrow a free day use pass that will give access to over 100 provincial parks. Check out nature with your library card!

To get you in the mood here are some books about hiking.


Non-fiction picks

Girl in the woods

Girl in the Woods: A Memoir by Aspen Matis

Like Cheryl Strayed author of the bestseller Wild, Aspen Matis decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail to cope with trauma. The women had different reasons for their journeys. Strayed was mourning the loss of her mother, her marriage and fighting drug addiction. Nineteen-year-old Matis had been raped on her second day at college. She was distraught about the attack and the lack of support from the school and her own parents. She decided that immersing herself in nature and the physical challenge of the hike would help her heal and find peace. 

Mud rocks blazes

Mud, Rocks, Blazes: Letting Go on the Appalachian Trail by Heather "Anish" Anderson

Although she had finished a record-setting hike on the Pacific Crest Trail, Heather Anderson felt like her success was undeserved. She decided on another challenge--hiking the 2180 miles of the Appalachian Trail. During her 54-day journey, she fought with trail challenges and with her own insecurities, emotional scars and self-doubts. 

Salt path

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

Raynor Winn and her husband Moth became homeless after a bad investment. Just two days later Moth is diagnosed with corticobasal degeneration – a progressive disease with no known cure. With no place to live and nothing to do, the couple makes the impulsive decision to walk the 630 miles of the South West Coast Path which runs from Somerset to Dorset. Winn's book documents both the challenging and life-affirming parts of the journey.

Things i learned from falling

Things I Learned from Falling by Claire Nelson

Originally from New Zealand, Nelson was an experienced hiker. While she was housesitting in Joshua Tree, California she went for a hike in the desert without notifying friends or family. Unfortunately, disaster struck and she fell and broke her pelvis. Unable to move, with limited water and no phone signal, she has time to examine her life and reconsider her choices during the four days before she is rescued.  

Walk in the woods

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson

Humourist Bill Bryson packs a backpack and recruits an old friend that he hasn't spoken to in years for a 2200-mile hike on the Appalachian Trail. Stephen Katz, it turns out, is in no condition for an arduous hike. The men argue and stumble their way along the trail that runs from Maine to Georgia. Bryson shares history, ecology and observations of places and people they encounter. 


Fiction picks

Draw and order

Draw and Order by Cheryl Holton

Artist Miranda Trent has inherited her uncle's remote Kentucky farmhouse under the condition that she start a business that includes a distillery. She creates 'Paint and Shine Cultural Adventures' which offers customers a hike in the forest and painting lessons followed by a home-cooked meal and moonshine tasting. Miranda is taking the Risky Business Adventurers, a group of rock climbers, on a hike up a challenging trail. The group is shocked when they discover a skeleton on the trail. Miranda is even more disturbed when the body is revealed to be her long-missing cousin. She is convinced that his death was a murder and is determined to solve the crime. 

Fall down dead 4

Fall Down Dead by Stephen Booth

A group of 13 hikers attempt to climb Kinder Scout, the highest point in the Peak District. They become disoriented in the fog and lose track of the trail. Only 12 hikers are rescued; the thirteenth fell or was pushed at Dead Woman's Drop. It is up to Detective Inspector Ben Cooper and Detective Sergeant Diane Fry to figure out what happened.

Force of nature

Force of Nature by Jane Harper

A corporate team-building hike in the Australian bushland goes badly. Five men and five women are on the trip and they are broken into teams by gender. Each team must navigate the trail and meet in three days at a central location. The men's team arrives safely but only four members of the women's team make it out of the bush. Alice Russell, the missing hiker has been cooperating with police in an investigation of financial irregularities in the company. Did Alice get lost in the bush or did someone cause her to disappear?

Happiness for beginners

Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center

Recently divorced Helen Carpenter's life has been thrown off track. Her brother suggests a three-week wilderness trek/survival course may help her sort things out. Although she's never done anything like this, Helen agrees. She is surprised to discover that her brother's annoying best friend is also on the trip. Will a romance bloom?


Have you read any of these titles? Do you have other suggestions to add? Tell us in the comments below!