Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway

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“The definitive guide for Parkway hikers.”
—Harley E. Jolley, Historian and author of The Blue Ridge Parkway

Randy Johnson’s new book, Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway, raises the bar on books available for Parkway hikers and travelers alike.

No other guide to Parkway trails contains as many photos. No other Parkway trail guide contains maps, much less the finely -detailed topographic maps found here for the first time. And none reaches out to include as many hikes in the national parks and forests, state parks, and private preserves that line the entire route.

Finally, visitors have a single volume guide that truly redeems the Parkway’s potential as a portal to the Southern Appalachian experience. Appropriately, this groundbreaking new book is subtitled “The Ultimate Guide to America’s Most Popular Scenic Roadway.”

Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway is more than a trail or park guide-it’s an invitation to the rich culture, stunning scenery, and cool-summer climate of America’s first frontier.

The Parkway is the most popular unit of the U.S. National Park System and Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway invites even the most sedentary traveler out from behind the windshield and into nature on dozens of easy “leg-stretcher” trails. But it also contains rugged wilderness walks and overnight backpacking trips for the adventurous. Hikes for all abilities include in-depth trail descriptions, difficulty ratings, directions, and topographic trail maps and orientation road maps.

Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway contains tips for motoring the road and the most complete Parkway Mileage Log available to the public. This indispensable log lists the exact location of the Parkway’s overlooks and waysides, entrances and exits, interpretive sites, craft shops , museums, visitor centers, and more. The book divides the Parkway into four travel regions with introductions to each set the tone and provide an essential overview from a nationally published, award-winning travel writer.

That kind of treatment takes you even deeper, to rich cultural and historical insights. Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway is as much about “why to visit America’s most scenic road as it is about what to see when you do,” Johnson says.

Buy Randy’s books here and support the
Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation.

Author Randy Johnson stood on his first mountaintop on a bitterly cold Boy Scout camping trip in the Virginia Blue Ridge and has lived most of his life in the shadow of the Parkway. He was a trail design consultant for the final “missing link” portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway at Grandfather Mountain and worked to create the trail system in place there today. He’s written extensively for national magazines and newspapers, including Parkway-adjacent publications like Charlotte Observer and Richmond Times-Dispatch.

From the recent popularity of novels like Gap Creek and Cold Mountain, to the Grammy award-winning traditional music soundtrack of the film “Oh Brother Where Art Thou,” it’s apparent that the Southern Appalachians are the cultural heart of America. The Blue Ridge Parkway takes you there, and Randy Johnson’s new book Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway leads you to the vistas, the visitor centers and beyond-to a deeper appreciation of how America’s once-secret region still enriches us.

Just interested in the Parkway’s easier hikes? Check out Randy’s book for families, novice or older hikers, Best Easy Day Hikes Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s smaller in size and price, but contains the best walks on and off the Parkway, plus introductory chapters to the road’s four distinct travel regions. Read more about the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville.
Read The Mountain Times review of this book.

Read The Roanoke Times review of this book.

Read my article in
Hemispheres Magazine
on the “perfect” Asheville itinerary.