With the current pandemic and social distancing in mind, the new edition of local adventurer Randy Johnson’s “Hiking North Carolina: A guide to more than 500 of North Carolina’s greatest hiking trails” (FalconGuide) is now full of less-visited trails. Even hikes to North Carolina’s must-see landmark locations are described with alternate starting points and strategies that make it easy to escape the crowds.

Johnson’s expanded, completely updated guide details more than 500 hikes all across North Carolina. Johnson leads hikers through Southern Appalachian national forests, along the most scenic sections of the Appalachian Trail, and across the highest peaks in the East, home to the country’s most visited national parks (the Great Smokies and Blue Ridge Parkway). The book features hikes all across the Piedmont, in state parks, national military parks and forests. On the Outer Banks trails tempt in Wildlife Refuges and National Seashores.

Readers can choose from challenging backpack trips, handicapped accessible adventures, hikes to photograph wildflowers and waterfalls and urban greenway escapes. Easy family walks include close-to-home sections of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and a growing list of educational Kids in Parks “TRACK Trails.”

A Trail Finder organizes the options and detailed entries offer accurate trailhead directions with GPS coordinates and GPS compatible maps, hike descriptions, mileages, difficulty ratings, elevation gains and more for hundreds of hikes.

For those newly venturing outdoors as a reaction to COVID-19 claustrophobia, Johnson’s extensive introduction chapter reveals everything new hikers need to know to safely hit the trail. He explores the climate and offerings of the state’s hiking regions, advises on what to carry and how to dress. He explains how to minimize impact on the environment, cope with trailside pests, practice good trail etiquette, and be smart and safe hiking with kids and dogs.

The new book debuts as the first edition of Johnson’s guide reaches its 25th anniversary.

Randy Johnson’s outdoor and travel articles have appeared in some of the nation’s major newspapers and magazines. He started Grandfather Mountain’s backcountry trail program in the 1970s and is the author of the award-winning 2016 book “Grandfather Mountain: The History and Guide to an Appalachian Icon.” His 1987 book, “Southern Snow” was expanded and rereleased in 2019 as the definitive guide to snow sports in the South. Johnson’s other bestselling FalconGuides include Best Easy Day Hikes Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway.

For nearly 20 years Johnson was editor-in-chief of United Airlines Hemispheres magazine and editor of The North Face brand’s adventure website. Johnson is the Mountains-to-Sea Trail’s task force leader in the High Country from Grandfather Mountain to Blowing Rock.

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