Book Review: “On Trails: An Exploration” by Robert Moor

A few months ago, I purchased “On Trails: An Exploration” after reading the back cover in a bookstore during a trip to Greenville, South Carolina. Hiking, in addition to reading and writing, is another one of my hobbies, and so I decided to give this book a try. Plus, I have to admit, I think the simple cover art is beautiful, with its gold print and silver, minimalist landscape contrasting with a solid black background.

I really enjoyed this book and considering it was a New York Times bestseller, it appears many other people did as well. Within the book, Moor talks about (spoiler alert!) trails. He covers pretty much everything about trails, from detailing the world’s oldest known fossil trails made by ancient organisms to hiking the Appalachian Trail in modern times.

The book as a whole is informative and for most of the chapters, an easy read for relaxing evenings. A few parts of the book (such as the epilogue) were a bit long-winded for my attention span, but that is just my preference. I know plenty of people whose reading preferences lean towards the more technical side of things, so I think the book offers a lot for both types of readers.

Moor heavily emphasizes the correlation between landscape and people, describing how both influence the production of trails. He discusses why some trails are designed for shortest travel time while other trails may take meandering routes (for purposes of preventing erosion, for example).

One fascinating topic he describes is the concept of “wilderness” and the changing perception towards wilderness in some cultures (i.e., wilderness was formerly a thing to be feared and to avoid but is now considered a pristine refuge away from industrialization).

I was particularly interested in his depictions of the Appalachian Trail, as the trail goes through my home state. Moor even participated in a trail-building session with the Konnarock Trail Crew, the same one I volunteered with a few years ago through the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (and you can, too, no matter which state you live in! For free and with gear provided! Just check out the link for information).

All in all, I would definitely recommend this book if you are a hiking fan. I’ve gained a greater appreciation for both human and animal trails and now have several hiking destinations to add to my travel list!

Have you also read this book or ones similar? Feel free to leave a comment, and I’ll get back to you. Thanks for visiting, and happy reading!

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