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A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

4.05  ·  Rating Details  ·  222,326 Ratings  ·  12,534 Reviews
The Appalachian Trail trail stretches from Georgia to Maine and covers some of the most breathtaking terrain in America–majestic mountains, silent forests, sparking lakes. If you’re going to take a hike, it’s probably the place to go. And Bill Bryson is surely the most entertaining guide you’ll find. He introduces us to the history and ecology of the trail and to some of t ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 397 pages
Published December 26th 2006 by Anchor (first published November 1st 1997)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jan 31, 2007 erin rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Smug jerks, misanthropes, tourists
It's been a busy couple of weeks, so I thought I'd spent the last of my holiday indulging in a witty travelogue to set my feet itching. Unfortunately, I picked the wrong book. Years of declining the advice of the Bryson-worshipers, it seems, was not in vain.

I'm halfway through, and - like the author on the daunting trail - am unsure as to whether or not I can finish my task. Bryson sounds, to put it mildly, a real jerk. He's smug and superior, and spends most of the book complaining about his co
Jan 29, 2015 Jason rated it liked it
I am what some might call a pussy hiker. I do genuinely enjoy a leisurely stroll in the “mountains” of Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire. I like the pretty views. I always bring my conveniently-sized L.L. Bean backpack ($39.95 from the Kittery Outlets) so I have a place for my camera and cell phone. But by early afternoon, I would like to be done, please. I would like to be done and sitting at a booth in a pub with my burger and beer. Camping is certainly worthy of consideration, but here ...more
Dec 08, 2015 Anne rated it really liked it
Recommended to Anne by: Jeff
I kind of surprised I liked this book at all, because:
a) I read pathetically little non-fiction
b) I've never read a travelogue
I'm only a fan of the Great Outdoors as long as I'm safely Indoors.


So, color me shocked that I not only finished this, but giggled my way through quite a bit of it! Bryson really is a pretty funny writer, and the way he captured his experience on the Appalachian Trail had me in tears a few times. His fears about getting mauled by a bear (among other things) befor
Bill Bryson calls the Appalachian Trail "the grandaddy of long hikes," but for me, this book is the granddaddy of hiking memoirs. I first read it sometime around 1999, and I enjoyed it so much that not only have I reread this multiple times, but it also inspired me to read at least a dozen other hiking adventures. None have matched Bryson's wit.

Before he started writing long books on various aspects of history, Bryson was known for his entertaining travelogues. A Walk in the Woods was his humor
J.L.   Sutton
May 01, 2016 J.L. Sutton rated it it was ok
I wanted to like Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail. Not sure what I was expecting from this—perhaps more about hiking on the actual AT and the reasons Bryson made this trek—but I was mostly disappointed. It read like a series of travel brochures: here’s the history of the region on this section of the trail, and now another…There was much more attention devoted to towns along the route than hiking the actual trail. It was also disappointing that Br ...more
May 07, 2009 Ken-ichi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ken-ichi by: Maggi
Shelves: nature, naturalism, travel
Undoubtedly an amusing, breezy read, full of the kind of fun and hilarity all the blurbs lead you to expect. For instance, "Hunters will tell you that a moose is a wily and ferocious forest creature. Nonsense. A moose is a cow drawn by a three-year-old." That had me laughing on the train.

I can't say I liked this book quite as much as some of my friends seem to. On the one hand, I've had at least 1 semi-grueling backpacking experience with a companion who was wholly unprepared for a rigorous day
Jason Koivu
Jun 04, 2015 Jason Koivu rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, travel
A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail pressed all my favorite buttons: Humor. Adventure. Danger. Storytelling. Nature. Local/personal interest. Et cetera.

I even liked that the author Bill Bryson is a American-Brit ex-pat/transplant and thus an outsider giving his opinion as a stranger in a strange land. Bryson's humorous, well-researched, yet relaxed writing is what I always hope for when embarking upon a book like this.

A trek upon the Appalachian Trail is supposed
Jun 03, 2014 Jeff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, non-fiction
Going into this book, I really had no idea of what to expect from Bill Bryson. Even though I picked this book up based on Diane’s terrific review (, I had never read the author before and let’s face it - blurbs on the cover only tell you so much. You have to read and live with an author’s prose to get a feel for it. As far as travelogues go, I don’t read many: Paul Theroux, Mark Twain and Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley are the only ones that come to min ...more
May 17, 2007 Jack rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone still breathing
Imagine a grueling, four-month wilderness trek along the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. Your guide: an intellectual, who lived half his life in England, well versed in geology, zoology, ecology and pretty much all of the other ‘ologies.’ Yet, this far from ordinary guide summons the sparkle of Twain, and of Billy Crystal. Picture all of this for a sense of what can be found inside the covers of Bill Bryson’s "A Walk in the Woods." Bryson, a self-deprecating intellectual of the first or ...more
Sep 15, 2007 Dylan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
I have read most of Bill Bryson's books and they are all good-- excellent even. His gift is in his ability to detect the humor in any situation. Where you or I might see a man walking down the street he sees something, and articulates it so well, packed with humor. But this book is his best. The reason, I think, is that it takes him out of his element. His natural writing style is this so-called "travel writing" genre-- the idea that someone goes somewhere and writes about it and their time ther ...more
Carole (Carole's Random Life)
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life.

I am terribly disappointed by the fact that I did not fall in love with this book. When I was choosing a book to read, I took one look at the ratings for this book on Goodreads and knew that I had to read this book right away. Seriously, every single one of my friends on Goodreads gave this book either a 4 or 5 star rating. And they said it was funny. I love funny. I knew that I would just love this book.

I didn't love it. I was actually bored
May 13, 2014 David rated it it was amazing
I love Bill Bryson's books, and this one is no exception. Bryson tells the story of his hiking up the Appalachian Trail (AT for short) with his friend, Stephen Katz. His friend is quite a character, and I sort of wonder if he is a real person, or if he is "invented". But--Katz is such a wonderful character, he is probably real, because "inventing" him would be nearly impossible. He is a recovering alcoholic, overweight sort of slob who throws out his irreplaceable supplies when the going gets to ...more
Ben Williams
Mar 09, 2009 Ben Williams rated it it was amazing
i always tell people that they will either love this (and most of his other) books to death, or that they will find them utterly unamusing. i find them hilarious. i have never laughed so hard while reading a book as with Bryson's books. Give it a go--you'll know after the first few chapters whether you share his witty, tasteful sense of humor or not:)
Jun 17, 2011 Ben rated it did not like it
Bill Bryson is extremely annoying. I started out liking this book, but the further I went along, the more obnoxious I found the author's smarter-than-thou attitude. And that's a shame, too, because I was very interested in the subject matter and had the impression that Bryson wrote with a comedic edge. However, his sense of humor turns out to be quite bland, and consists mostly of making fun of everyone he meets. Get ready for adjectives like "stupid" and "fat" ... very high-brow. And don't worr ...more
Dec 13, 2009 Don rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
I have had 4-5 people tell me over the years that I ought to read this book, so after Jean read it I kept it around the house. And one evening when I had finished a book and wasn't all that sleepy, I picked this up.

And it made me very sleepy. Lots of sleepy nights with this selection.

Yes, and he's a good writer and this has a few nice little anecdotes.

But jeez, it's just not a very interesting or very good book, that's all. Let's see, it's by a guy who doesn't really like to hike (he'd rather be
Mar 24, 2008 Jasmin rated it it was ok
Shelves: general-fiction
Bryson has a great sense of humor, and does a good job of capturing the quirkiness of backwood folk. However, I was sometimes frustrated by his viewpoints, which dampened my opinion and enjoyment of this book. For instance, Bryson says on page 199:

"To tell you the truth I was getting a little wearied of this [remote wilderness]. I know the Apalachian Trail is suposed to be a wilderness experience, and I accept that there are countless places where it would be a tragedy for it to be otherwise, bu
Nov 03, 2007 LINDA rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Nature Lovers
At the recomendation of one of my bosses I took this book along on a strenuous 10 mile backcountry hike in Shenandoah that was full of amazing mountain-top vistas, stream crossings, and beautiful rocky trails framed with fall folliage.

It is a hilarious book that recounts Byson's aventure of preparing for and hiking the entire length of the Appalachian Trail- which actually passes through Shenandoah just miles from where we were camping.

I had started reading the book in the tent by the light of
Riku Sayuj
Jan 28, 2012 Riku Sayuj rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Riku by: Ashish Korde
Shelves: favorites
Probably only the second non-fiction book that has made me sit up thrilled through an entire night reading and feel terribly disappointed as it ended almost without my noticing it. Full review to be put up soon.
Jan 04, 2008 Steve rated it did not like it
At the dawn of the twentieth-century, journalists, travel writers, social workers, and adventure seekers descended on the Appalachian Mountains in droves, expecting to find a land of violent, uneducated "hillbillies" whose primary occupations were distilling illegal alcohol and killing one another. That they were mistaken in their assumptions has been demonstrated time and again, in both popular and academic literature.

Almost 100 years later, writer Bill Bryson took a walk on the Appalachian tra
Eric Aiello
Quite seriously the funniest and most inspiring book I've read in a long time. The first half (or so) of the book with Katz was hilarious. The brief intermission without Katz was very interesting, but damn, I couldn't wait for Katz to show up again. The last few chapters when Bryson and Katz were hiking the 100 mile wilderness in Maine were tear-and-convulsion-inducingly hilarious. Wonderful, wonderful read!

This entire book is worth the read if only for the part that Bryson describes the moose h
Dec 14, 2014 Michael rated it really liked it
I know the amount of reviews I'm promising to write are really stacking up, but I will try to get to writing full comments soon. I've just been so busy with editing The First Empire, that's been consuming a huge amount of my time.

But...Once again I really enjoyed this book. Bryson is always entertaining and I've moved on to yet another one.
I have a friend in Vermont who spent his honeymoon hiking the Appalachian Trail. It took them 6 months, start to finish. They now live in a home powered by solar batteries. Like Bryson, their respect for nature is very real. This is an entertaining account of Bryson's experience and can vicariously give us a sense of what it might be like to live without the conveniences we have come to take for granted.
Mar 25, 2016 Cher rated it really liked it
4.5 stars - Incredible. I really loved it.

Thoroughly enjoyed my first foray into Bryson's work and look forward to reading others by him. This had the perfect nonfiction blend of humor, entertainment and research/factual tidbits. I really enjoyed his sense of humor and laughed out loud throughout the book.

Bryson also does an excellent job of bringing awareness to environmental issues in a way that comes across as informative, but not preachy. He also pokes fun at some of the ludicrous societal
Mar 19, 2009 Eric_W rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book to listen to while traveling with a group of people. It will keep you interested and laughing heartily all the way to your destination.

Bryson decided one day that it would be a neat thing to hike the Appalachian Trail – all 2,160 miles of it (although the actual length varies depending on the page you might be on in the official guides or what year it is, because the trail is constantly being changed and moved).

Deciding to do a little research, he soon discovered that th
Feb 23, 2010 Kelly rated it it was ok
"A Walk in the Woods" is proof that if you have already written a few books that have sold well, publishers will apparently let you do anything. In the beginning I loved it, because the two hikers were not these super outdoorsy types who keep up with all the latest hiking gear and get all pretentious about trails. (As a person who was a business major in college but grew up with two siblings who both majored in recreation, park, and tourism science and are fairly uppity about the outdoors, I can ...more
Julie Ehlers
Aug 09, 2015 Julie Ehlers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book in an airport. My family and I had been traveling together, we had recently hit our upper limit of togetherness, and the book I'd brought with me, Mary Karr's Lit, was proving too dreary. I wanted something funny and absorbing for the flight home, and I found it in A Walk in the Woods, a book I'd always meant to read anyway. I'm fascinated by stories of people who go on long, challenging wilderness adventures--probably because I know I'll never be one of them--and Bill Bryson ...more
♡ Kim ♡
Dec 17, 2015 ♡ Kim ♡ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own, giveaway-wins
What an amazing journey! I usually do not read memoirs, but I love the outdoors and have heard great things about this book. I really enjoyed reading about their adventure. It is well written and entertaining. I am very happy to have won this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. I look forward to seeing the movie!
Mar 23, 2016 Dianne rated it it was amazing
This book is a travel memoir on the Appalachian Trail, written by an intelligent and very good-humored man, Bill Bryson. He and his friend Katz decide to walk the AT, which is a densely forested wilderness that stretches 2100 miles from Georgia to Mt. Katahdin in Maine. The AT is truly amazing and Bryson gives many facts about its social history, the craziness of the bureaucrats dealing with the AT, and describes some ways it has been neglected.

Bryson says that the AT is definitely not easy. 'T
Heather Fineisen
Listening to Bryson narrate is a treat although this is the abridged version. A little dry in some spots but overall a great time. Bryson delivers many lol moments and almost convinces you to lace up and hit the trail.
Oct 12, 2007 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: goal-oriented people
Finishing Part 1, I feel so let down. Bill and Katz have left the AT and gone their separate ways, promising to return end of summer. Now it's no secret they won't conplete the through-hike. I just about feel like giving up the remaining pages myself.

This is my first Bryson read, and it's everything I heard it would be. I like Bryson's sarcastic humor. It's chuckle out loud funny, mostly because I spent 1990-1993 section-hiking the AT. Been there--done that so to speak (except for the Maine and
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Bill Bryson was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951. He settled in England in 1977, and worked in journalism until he became a full time writer. He lived for many years with his English wife and four children in North Yorkshire. He and his family then moved to New Hampshire in America for a few years, but they have now returned to live in the UK.

In The Lost Continent, Bill Bryson's hilarious first t
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“Black bears rarely attack. But here's the thing. Sometimes they do. All bears are agile, cunning and immensely strong, and they are always hungry. If they want to kill you and eat you, they can, and pretty much whenever they want. That doesn't happen often, but - and here is the absolutely salient point - once would be enough.” 163 likes
“That's the trouble with losing your mind; by the time it's gone, it's too late to get it back.” 85 likes
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