Book Review: Robert Moor’s “On Trails”

If you are self-distancing and looking for an entertaining way to while away the hours, you can do no better than to pick up a copy of Robert Moor’s award-winning book, On Trails.

It truly is a remarkable book and, without question, the best hiking-related work I’ve read in the past several years.

Readers are taken on a rich, globe-spanning journey (sometimes meandering but always satisfying) through diverse landscapes and cultures, where they encounter a delightful cast of characters along the way. The narrative is peppered throughout with fascinating excursions into a variety of disciplines (e.g., history, biology, archaeology, philosophy, literature, and conservation, just to name a few) The author has thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail (Spaceman, 2009) and several sections and passages will be of particular interest for AT hikers. These include a discussion of the creation of the AT, the challenges behind the idea and implementation of an International Appalachian Trail, many vignettes from the author’s personal experiences on the AT, and Moor’s account of hiking for several days with the famed Nimblewill Nomad.

The book is an impressive accomplishment even as it defies precise categorization. Is it an essay? A travelogue? A piece of nature or science writing? Answer: all of the above. Reading On Trails is a rewarding experience and one that will stay with you for some time.

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