On the Trail

A History of American Hiking

Silas Chamberlin

View Inside Price: $30.00


October 25, 2016
272 pages, 5.5 x 8.25
26 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300219111
Hardcover

The first history of the American hiking community and its contributions to the nation’s vast network of trails

In the mid-nineteenth century urban walking clubs emerged in the United States. A little more than a century later, tens of millions of Americans were hiking on trails blazed in every region of the country. This groundbreaking book is the first full account of the unique history of the American hiking community and its rich, nationwide culture.
 
Delving into unexplored archives, including those of the Appalachian Mountain Club, Sierra Club, Green Mountain Club, and many others, Silas Chamberlin recounts the activities of hikers who over many decades formed clubs, built trails, and advocated for environmental protection. He also discusses the shifting attitudes of the late 1960s and early 1970s when ideas about traditional volunteerism shifted and new hikers came to see trail blazing and maintenance as government responsibilities. Chamberlin explores the implications for hiking groups, future club leaders, and the millions of others who find happiness, inspiration, and better health on America’s trails.

Silas Chamberlin is an independent scholar who speaks and writes widely about past and current trail policy. He has led or participated in dozens of long-distance trail development projects and trail advocacy initiatives. He lives in Pennsylvania.

“Chamberlin has demonstrated that what at first looks simple—walking on our own two feet—has a complex history of changing cultural associations, social infrastructure, and national significance.” —James Longhurst, University of Wisconsin – La Crosse

“With rich historical context Silas Chamberlin inspires new appreciation for trailblazers, while sharing the legacy of hiking and its growing importance today, as people find their way to a new relationship with the natural world.”—Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods and Vitamin N

“A must-read for anyone interested in the evolution of hiking. The kind of hikers we are has roots in a winding historical path that Silas Chamberlin unravels with insider's knowledge and scholarship.”—Laura Waterman, author of The Green Guide to Low Impact Hiking and Camping

“Silas Chamberlain views the past with fresh eyes, and through him readers learn how American hiking evolved from a communally produced activity into an individualistic act of consumption. This is a smart and timely book.”—Joseph E. Taylor III, author of Making Salmon and Pilgrims of the Vertical

“A highly detailed and engaging look at the foundational role hiking clubs have played both trail building and the conservation movement – and a reminder of the need to engage a new generation in this mission.”—John Judge, President and CEO, Appalachian Mountain Club

On the Trail offers a tautly argued, crisply written account of a significant American cultural and environmental movement, providing a fresh perspective on the unique, grassroots ‘culture of hiking.’”—Larry Anderson, author of Benton MacKaye: Conservationist, Planner and Creator of the Appalachian Trail

“Silas Chamberlin does a commendable job researching and relaying the history of hiking within the United States. His information proves both insightful and inspirational to the modern hiker. On the Trail, not only details the significance of regional trail clubs, but it correctly suggests that the revitalization of social hiking groups in this country will require a wider outreach and more diverse membership. This book is as important to the future of hiking in America as it is to the past.”—Jennifer Pharr Davis, Owner of Blue Ridge Hiking Company

“This winning, thought-provoking book offers insight into a relatively unknown aspect of environmental history.”—Library Journal, starred review

“A wonderful addition to both special and general collections. It will also be useful for seasoned researchers and general readers with a strong interest in the history of hiking.”—Choice