100 Hikes of a Lifetime by National Geographic

This ultimate hiker’s guide, from the celebrated Appalachian Trail to Micronesia’s secluded Six Waterfalls Hike, treks through 100 energizing experiences for all levels.

Filled with beautiful National Geographic photography, wisdom from expert hikers like Andrew Skurka, need-to-know travel information, and practical wildlife-spotting tips, this inspirational guide offers the planet’s best experiences for hikers and sightseers.

From short day hikes–California’s Sierra High Route, Lake Agnes Teahouse in Alberta, Norway’s Mt. Skala–to multiday excursions like Mt. Meru in Tanzania and multi-week treks (Egypt’s Sinai Trail, Bhutan’s Snowman Trek, and the Bibbulum Track in Australia), you’ll find a hike that matches your interests and skill level.

Crossing all continents and climates (from the jungles of Costa Rica to the ice fields in Alaska’s Kenai Fjords National Parks), as well as experiences (a wine route through Switzerland or moose spotting on the Teton Crest Trail in Wyoming,) there is a trail for everyone in these pages. So pack your gear and lace your boots: this comprehensive and innovative guide will lead you to experience the best hikes of your life.

Disclosure: I was contacted by a representative of TLC Book Tours with an offer to receive this book. It was provided at no cost to me. My only responsibility was an agreement to complete this review. I was not pressured in any way to make a positive endorsement.


An Introduction


As you would expect of anything published by National Geographic, the quality of this coffee table book is stellar. Made with reinforced binding and thick glossy paper, it is built to be durable. As always with NatGeo, the photography is top notch. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill adventure photos. You will find the best locations, the best lighting, the best professionals.

The layout for 100 Hikes of a Lifetime is in sections by geography… essentially by continents of the world. So as I considered this book review, I looked through the North America section for trails that I have actually hiked. One is Angels Landing at Zion National Park in Utah. So I will focus this review on that particular hike.


Angels Landing at Zion National Park


Here is how I described the decision point known as Scout Lookout on the Angels Landing Trail:

Once you reach the top of Walters Wiggles you have your first close-up view of Angels Landing. A hundred yards later you reach Scout Lookout. For the first time you can peer over the east side of Zion Canyon and at the north face of Angels Landing. It’s the last chance to summon your courage before summiting. Scout Lookout is a sandy area about a half-acre in size that even has a couple of pit toilets. I can’t imagine the line that must form on a touristy summer weekend.

We paused for a few minutes to survey the remaining path to the top of Angels Landing. It didn’t take long to convince ourselves that it simply wasn’t for us. Paralysis by fear is not a healthy condition, for you, or for anyone else around you. Each person is different. Hundreds of people climb to the summit every day without incident. Hundreds of others stop at Scout Lookout, or continue along the West Rim Trail as we did.

And here is how 100 Hikes of a Lifetime describes Scout Lookout:

Scout Lookout, some 1,000 feet (305 m) over the valley floor, is a prime spot for a snack, a breathing break, and a gander at the view. Many folks turn around here because the biggest challenge lies ahead: a 400-vertical-foot (122 m) climb up a nerve-fraying fin of rock entirely unsuited to those who are afraid of heights. Bolted chains help steady wobbly hikers as sheer cliff faces plung below-so steep they play host to rock climbers who scale their smooth vertical faces.


What You Will Find in This Book


Each trail report includes the type of information that I always look for before heading out for an adventure. For example, the hike distance and estimated time requirement are included, as well as the best season(s) to go, and the difficulty of the trek. They also describe any wildlife you may encounter while there, so keep your eyes peeled. The Know Before You Go advice is also quite helpful.

Angels Landing is exceptionally popular-with good reason-so go in the early morning or late afternoon to beat the throngs. When hiking in the desert, it’s imperitive to slather on sunscreen and bring a sun hat. For this hike, the Park Service recommends wearing sturdy, closed-toe, hiking shoes with grippy rubber soles for negotiating steep sandstone.

Of course the highlight of any National Geographic book is the photography. They always hire the most talented and respected professionals, and the products here do not disappoint. The pictures that accompany the Angels Landing trail report include a closeup of a native bighorn sheep, and a hiker surveying the narrow path ahead to the summit of this giant monolith, much as we did on our visit in 2014.


Contemplating Angels Landing Summit

Here I am just above Scout Landing contemplating the narrow trail to Angels Landing summit.


How to Get One


After all the individual reports, the tail-end of this book includes sound advice for hiking conservation:

As hikers, we have the good fortune of seeing the world’s most magnificent corners. Majestic mountain peaks, dormant volcanoes, highland meadows, desert dunes, and lush marshlands are our oasis-the scenes and wonders that draw us back to the trail time and time again. It is our responsibility to protect and preserve these wild places and the wildlife that lives within them before they’re lost forever. Hikers should be leading the charge to protect our wilderness areas because we are in the privileged position to see the changes taking place firsthand. It’s our backyard and our responsibility.

This advice is followed by a list of conservation guidelines to help get you started.

There is then an index of sorts that lists each of the Destinations by Location, enabling you to pick your favorite country and find recommended trails by page number. But you’re probably going to want to scroll through the entire book from cover to cover to enjoy the sights that await when you head to these remarkable places.

The author of this book is Kate Siber, a freelance journalist and correspondent for Outside magazine. Her work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, National Parks, 5280, the Boston Globe, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, among many other newspapers and magazines. She has been honored with several Lowell Thomas awards, including Travel Journalist of the Year.

100 Hikes of a Lifetime retails for US$35 and is published by National Geographic Partners. You can order copies from Amazon in hardcover book form. You may also order from Barnes and Noble and from IndieBound.

Disclosure: I was contacted by a representative of TLC Book Tours with an offer to receive this book. It was provided at no cost to me. My only responsibility was an agreement to complete this review. I was not pressured in any way to make a positive endorsement.


This post was created by Jeff Clark. Please feel free to use the sharing icons below, or add your thoughts to the comments. Pack it in, pack it out. Preserve the past. Respect other hikers. Let nature prevail. Leave no trace.


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