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Books for Motivation & Inspiration

Getting yourself hyped, inspired, and motivated about your upcoming hike is a part of your preparation. If you're a reader, there are loads of excellent books that will do just that. For me, it was a book that introduced me to the trail in the first place and ultimately led me to hiking. Here's a curated list of books we'd recommend for inspiration.

A Walk In The Woods

A Walk In The Woods is a classic read. It's excellent for educating yourself on the history of the Trail and experiencing a little bit of Bill's journey. It seemed almost everyone I knew on the AT had read this prior to or during the trail. However, I will say that I disagree with his pessimistic attitude toward the trail and the community. The trail is much more fun than Bryson depicts. Nonetheless, it’s definitely a worthwhile read.

AWOL On The Appalachian Trail

AWOL is a trail celebrity. He's best known for making the guide book, The AT Guide, most commonly referred to as AWOL. His book is an amazing depiction of his journey of quitting his job as a software engineer (been there, done that!) and thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail (the dream). It's truly inspiring and makes you itch to do the same.

Becoming Odyssa

Jennifer Pharr Davis is another trail celebrity. Some might prefer "legend." She's best known for setting the AT thru-hike Fastest Known Time (FKT) record in 2011. She's racked up over 12,000 miles over the years and this book is about her very first hike. I fell in love with the book and her passion for the trail. It was such an inspiring book to read before hiking and it got me even more jazzed up than I already was.

Appalachian Trials

Appalachian Trials is arguably one of the most used books for AT preparation. Zach Davis or "Badger" thru-hiked in 2011 and wrote this book to help others with a different side of prep that most might overlook: psychological and emotional. This book is an essential to realizing what on earth you're about to get into and acquiring the proper mindset to overcome the psychological challenges.

Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart: An Adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail

Though I can't personally recommend this book since I haven't had the chance to read it, I've had numerous people recommend it be added to this list. Despite the fact that it's about the Pacific Crest Trail, it's directly relatable to someone leaving life and running to the trail.


Most people think of "Wild" and they think of Reese Witherspoon and the Pacific Crest Trail. Nonetheless, this book is about hiking through some serious emotional challenges and is a staple amongst the hiking community. It's a truly inspiring read and will help you realize that you too are capable of overcoming whatever it is you're walking through.

Hiking Through

I wanted to include this book because it was extra special to me. It was the single reason that led me to thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. I had purchased it a year prior and happened to pick it up and read it one day. I instantly fell in love with the idea of the trail and I knew I had to do it. Paul's book is an excellent and motivating read and I am forever grateful to have stumbled upon it.

This is only a small sampling of books and we know there are loads more. If you've got a recommendation for one, please let us know at hikerfeed@gmail.com.

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