Highlighting outdoor destinations nearby
As the mild weather beckons, thoughts turn to the great outdoors. Getting advice on where to venture out, and information about the destinations you’re considering, can make the planning easier and your trip more pleasurable.
Here are some good options.
Waterfalls of Virginia & West Virginia: 174 Falls in the Old Dominion and the Mountain State, by Randall Sanger, 272 pages, Adventure Publications paperback, second edition, 2018
West Virginia outdoorsman Randall Sanger has composed an enchanting guidebook that ranks and describes the most scenic waterfalls in Virginia and West Virginia.
Height of the waterfall, directions, the nearest town, walking distance from parking, hiking difficulty, trail quality, websites and nearby sites — all are included in meticulously written tips for travelers. Admission is free to all West Virginia waterfalls. Those that charge admission in Virginia are duly noted.
The vivid color photographs accompanying the text are sure to lure you from the comforts of home to experience the sights and sounds of these natural wonders. Waterfalls also includes suggestions by the author, a professional photographer, for taking the best shots.
The table of contents and the back-of-the-guide checklist make finding your destination easier, as do the overview state maps. Short descriptions superimposed on the photographs summarize the most endearing features, helping readers sort through the myriad choices.
This guide makes planning your trip enjoyable and stress-free.
Top Trails: Shenandoah National Park: 50 Must-Do Hikes for Everyone, by Johnny Molloy, 332 pages, Wilderness Press paperback, second edition, 2018
This extensive and informative guide to trails in Shenandoah National Park, in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, is a must-have for anyone considering venturing there. The Top Trails series provides vital information using maps, symbols, graphs and photographs to describe choices for novice and experienced nature-seekers.
Although Skyline Drive is Shenandoah’s most famous feature, there is much more to explore. Thanks to this guide, you’ll feel confident venturing to more private and picturesque parts in the backcountry.
A map of the park and a trail-features table at the beginning of the book orient readers. Tips on hiking, information on lodgings and camping, as well as average-temperature range by month are included.
Trails are rated by difficulty, and advice as to the best — and worst — seasons to hike each trail is thoughtfully included. An appendix provides information on local resources, phone numbers and websites. Black-and-white photographs accompany the text.
The author of more than 60 books about the outdoors, Johnny Molloy puts his experience at the reader’s disposal in an easy-to-follow format. “Don’t get lost” trail milestones and GPS coordinates are helpfully provided.
Lists, easily accessible in the page margins, identify features of note, specifics on items of geographical and horticultural interest, as well as autumn colors and vistas. Also noted are the presence of facilities, length of hike, distance from parking, difficulty, elevation, best time of day to use and whether the trail is child-friendly.
60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Washington, D.C., Including Suburban and Outlying Areas of Maryland and Virginia, by Renee Sklarew and Rachel Cooper, map specialist Brian Cooper, prior edition by Paul Elliott, 256 pages, Menasha Ridge Press paperback, third edition, 2017
The authors of this handy guide are avid hikers and local residents with a robust familiarity of nearby, easily accessible destinations. Hikes are rated by difficulty and duration, accompanied by maps and color photographs. Their descriptions let you select your itinerary leisurely before you embark on a day hike.
60 Hikes is well organized. You’ll know what to expect en route and be able to decide before leaving which hikes are most interesting to you.
Beginning with an overview, two tables provide at-a-glance information regarding overlooks, historic sites, elevation, significant flora and fauna, accessibility to mass transit, bikeability, length, and whether the hikes are child-friendly or handicapped accessible.
The 60 hikes are categorized into five regional groups. They are each accompanied by a short summary of relevant information followed by a detailed description, map, contact information, directions and nearby activities.
Be sure to check the contact information provided for each hike, especially the more esoteric ones. For example, Hike #40, a privately owned botanical preserve, was permanently closed as of June 2018.
Appendices provide the names and contact information of hiking clubs should you prefer to join others on your outing. The book also includes a comprehensive list of local stores that specialize in hiking supplies and sporting goods, including discount outlets.
Hike Maryland: A Guide to the Scenic Trails of the Free State, by Bryan MacKay, photographs by Debi and Bryan MacKay, maps by Bill Nelson, 240 pages, 12-page insert of color photographs, Johns Hopkins University Press paperback, 2018
This informative and useful guide to trails in Maryland — and one, Rock Creek Park, in the District of Columbia — will have you out and about, secure in the knowledge of what to expect on your trek.
Bryan MacKay, a retired senior lecturer in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Baltimore, has selected 50 hikes of note that highlight the best of the natural wonders of Maryland.
MacKay takes the reader in hand with detailed descriptions of the hikes, devoting a chapter to each. You’ll find trail maps as well as basic information such as GPS location, website, trail distance and difficulty, directions, and whether the trail is dog-friendly.
The preface makes note of those trails that are wheelchair and stroller accessible. Admission fees are mentioned in the text, but check the website for current information.
Essays accompanying each hike discuss a relevant environmental topic or describe a species you may encounter. Not only will you exercise your body if you go, but reading MacKay’s book will expand your mind.