Top 5 Hiking & Trail Running Books

Must read Hiking books


The 100th issue of Leisure Wheels, which goes on sale this week, features an adventure guide sponsored by Yokohama. It is packed with articles regarding adventure activities such as rock climbing, trail running, mountain biking, canoeing, gorilla tracking, endure biking and, of course, off-road driving.

Hopefully you’ll have as much fun reading it as we had compiling it. We’re also hoping that it will whet your appetite for excitement and encourage you to go in search of adventure. After all, what is the use of owning a hardcore 4×4 if you don’t use it to have fun?

That said, however, we don’t all have the time and money necessary to dedicate ourselves exclusively to adventure activities. Sure, some people have the luxury of being able to spend a year unicycling through Africa or crossing the Pacific Ocean on a raft made of Coke bottles, but most of us have to work.

So if you’re desperate for an adrenaline fix, why not indulge in a bit of vicarious adventuring? Below are some of my favourite hiking and trail running books (for my favourite adventure and travel books, see Monday and Tuesday’s posts). I’ll also be posting my favourite books on other adventure activities such as mountain biking and mountaineering as the week goes on. Who knows? They might inspire you to pursue your own crazy adventure dream!

Note: Not all of these books are widely available in South Africa. However, most can be ordered on, and all the titles can be downloaded on Also, you do not need to own a Kindle to read Amazon’s e-books. You can read them on your computer or tablet (there is a Kindle app available for Apple and Android tablets).


1. Walking the Amazon – Ed Stafford

Ed Stafford attempted to do the impossible: walk the entire length of the Amazon River. It was a near-impossible goal, forcing him to deal with drug cartels, poisonous critters and dangerous floods. The attempt took 860 days and pushed Stafford to the brink of total exhaustion. His account of this trip is one the best modern adventure stories. A must-read!

Click here to buy online


2. A Walk in the Woods – Bill Bryson

Despite never having done any serious hiking, Bill Bryson decided, pretty much on a whim, to hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail stretches along the East Coast of the United States, from Georgia to Maine, through some of the most arresting and celebrated landscapes in America. It is about 2200 miles long. Bryson was not fully prepared for the demands that the trail would place on his body and spirited. It was an arduous trek that he describes in his usual hilarious style.

Click here to buy online


3. Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found – Cheryl Strayed

At 26, Cheryl Strayed’s life was falling apart. Her mother had just passed away and her marriage was coming to an end. She needed to give her life purpose, and she decided to do it by hiking the entire 2663-mile Pacific Crest Trail on her own. Female readers will love this book (Oprah raved about it), but it can be enjoyed by just about anyone. An inspirational read.

Click here to buy online


4. Born to Run – Chris McDougall

The Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s Copper Canyon are generally believed to be some of the best long-distance runners in the world. They manage to run effortlessly, enjoying every kilometre. What is their secret? Chris McDougall literally follows in the footsteps of the Tarahumara as he prepares for a gruelling fifty-mile event through the Copper Canyons.

Click here to buy online


5. Running with the Kenyans – Adharanand Finn

After years of watching Kenyan athletes win the world’s biggest races, from the Olympics to big city marathons, Runner’s World contributor Adharanand Finn set out to discover just what it was that made them so fast – and to see if he could keep up. Packing up his family (and his running shoes), he moved from Devon to the small town of Iten, in Kenya, home to hundreds of the country’s best athletes. Once there he laced up his shoes and ventured out onto the dirt tracks, running side by side with Olympic champions, young hopefuls and barefoot schoolchildren.

Click here to buy online


Tomorrow: My 5 favourite mountain biking books.