Friday, August 1, 2014

Book Review: Hiking North Carolina

Jarrett Morgan | | |

Hiking North Carolina by Randy Johnson

The Background

Hiking North Carolina, 2nd: A Guide to Nearly 500 of North Carolina's Greatest Hiking Trails (State Hiking Guides Series) is a FalconGuide book, by Randy Johnson.  FalconGuides is a well-established outdoors publishing company and most of their books are excellent and helpful.  Now, moving on to Randy, he has produced guidebooks for multiple states and a few other miscellaneous books.  In addition, he spends a lot of time speaking and working on trail maintenance.  So check him out at his website: http://randyjohnsonbooks.com/.

This is an amazing book and I specifically purchased the eBook version to help me plan camping/hiking trips when I was in North Carolina. I used this guide to plan and go on 6 trips.  I had 3 more planned but didn’t have enough time in NC to complete them all. The book provides a good level of detail on all of the locations I visited.  The book is most useful as a starting point for finding new locations and general details: providing a description of the area, description of the trails, elevation, trail difficulty, directions to trail heads, and a general map. 


The Good Stuff

The book provides additional resources, such as websites or phone numbers, where you can find more information about particular trails.  For example, Randy provides the phone number to the Hanging Rock State Park for more information.  Nevertheless, I wish he provided both websites and phone numbers (gotta get with the times!).  Randy includes the best place to get the most detailed/updated map, which is the best part of the book.  Having the best map is always preferred for any trip!  Furthermore, the book is divides NC into 3 regions and then into trail systems to help users navigate the large amount of trail information.  This organization method makes it a lot easier to use the book.  Finally, the trail difficulty is fairly accurate, but maintain a level of skepticism based on your current fitness level.  Using both will help you pick a trail that is inside your comfort area.

The Not So Good

The issue with the eBook version is that the maps provided are very difficult to see, even when zoomed in all the way. The maps are blurry/grainy so details are extremely difficult to make out, but Randy does provide links to the best digital maps so this isn’t too big of a deal.  However, the maps look to be detailed enough from what I can tell and would probably be good in the paperback version. If buying the eBook version do not expect the maps to be overly helpful. As always, navigating through a book on a digital device is difficult but by no means impossible. Finally, I have found that the guide is not completely updated. There are a few trails that are not covered or only mentioned briefly; however, Randy does provide websites for updated trail information, but some links are for more books and it is still a hassle to have to keep digging for information. 

Overall, I really like this book for planning and as a resource and highly recommend it for those going to NC.  One caveat, this would not be the greatest resource for thru-hikers looking to do the Appalachian Trail or the Mountain-to-Sea Trail.  For those hikes, I would by a specific guidebook.


So if you are planning a hike in North Carolina, what are your favorite guidebooks and resources?

Jarrett Morgan

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