Trail stories & other getting outdoors resources

Five winters ago we started reading adventure stories together as a family. Damien wanted to focus our family adventure reading on modern day, non-fiction outdoor adventures, preferably human-powered hiking and backpacking trail stories. No Shackleton or Hillary these stories are about adventurers like McKittrick and Miller.

Aren't familiar with these modern day adventurers? After reading the following book list you will be.

Since those first winter evenings of reading together, we have branched out into audio books. And these books that we shared as a family, sparked an interest in me to read trail stories and journals on my own, since not all of them are family-friendly.

Now, as we are getting ready for our own long hike we are reading and listening to trail stories from a whole different perspective.

This page of book reviews and recommendations is a running list of the inspiring trail books we've read, either individually or as a family. Because we are always looking for great books for the whole family I indicate in the reviews below those that are most appropriate for family read-alouds (and what ages) and those that are best suited to adult readers.

Click through to Toe Salad to continue reading my reviews and recommendations.

I've been talking these past few days about camping. And then today I'm sharing my review of real-life adventure books for hikers and backpackers.

But what if your aims are simpler than that? You just want to get outdoors with your kids more often, incorporate nature study in your homeschool and maybe, just maybe, get the kids to walk a mile or two on a beautiful trail.

petite cascapedia hiking path

In that case, I have a few more links to share with you of posts I've written here and other places. Not hard-care camping and hiking stuff, just get outdoors, appreciate nature and exercise together type stuff.

  • How to Start a Homeschool Hiking Group ~ An Interview - This school year do you want to incorporate more outdoor activity into your routine? Maybe try a homeschool hiking group.
  • A Walking We Will Go - The story of how we turned our weekly library trip into a family walk night. Are there ways you can incorporate walking into your everyday family routine?
  • Nature Study, FIMBY style - If you have Charlotte Mason inspired nature study in your homeschool plans for this fall you might appreciate reading about my experiences with nature study when our kids were younger. (This post is an oldie, but a goodie from 5 years ago.)
  • Lessons Learned while Camping - Camping is a fun, affordable and memorable vacation for many families. It also presents excellent education opportunities. (Sorry, couldn't help but sneak another camping post into this list.)
  • Great Books for an Outdoors Education - Don't miss this post from Simple Homeschool on supporting your outdoor studies with good books.

It's the long weekend here in Canada and the United States. After many days of fun this summer, including some time off last weekend, we're doing life as usual this weekend.

Thankfully that includes a Sunday morning fun run. It's that time of year again - the fall running races have started up in our community and we're participating again this year. We'll trade Sunday all-day hiking for Sunday morning runs and afternoons at home.

boy at lake

It's a beautiful season we're headed into and we plan to make the most of it outdoors. Hopefully this page of resources will help you do the same.
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  • Renee Newell-Boucher

    Renee Newell-Boucher on Aug. 30, 2013, 4:06 p.m.

    Renee, may I make a constructive comment? I am a fan of your blog, read regularly and really like you....a kind comment I need to make. I checked out your book reviews on Toe Salad and couldn't read them. While the back drop is really cool, it is not conducive to easy reading. Too hard to see the words. Whenever I come across these types of pages I stop reading. I only comment because I WANT to read it! Make it easier for me......

    My 2 cents worth.....Renee


    • renee

      renee on Aug. 30, 2013, 6:54 p.m.

      Renee, this happens because you are using an outdated browser, usually an older version of Internet Explorer. Firefox, Safari or Chrome should not experience this problem. 

      The actual page does not look like that. Viewed through an updated browser it's very readable. We wouldn't publish a blog that wasn't readable (smile).

      This is an occasional problem we are aware of at Toe Salad but one that is easily remedied by the user. 

      Thank you for the feedback. I appreciate it!


    • Nicole

      Nicole on Aug. 31, 2013, 2:56 a.m.

      I don't have a problem seeing Toe Salad - you are using an outdated browser and it won't allow you to see it right on Toe Salad's newer platform.  Can you perhaps update your current browser to a newer version? Good luck - I never like to miss anything Renee writes :)


  • mist

    mist on Aug. 30, 2013, 8:23 p.m.

    I'm secretly (not so secretly now) Wild wasn't your favorite. I've not read it, though have been tempted, but after reading reviews and hearing reviews from people I know who felt similarily about your review, I put it in the category of Bill Bryson's AWITW. I did read AWITW before I even contemplated the AT but like you said, once you research the AT you realize BB is not high on the list of likeability among thru-hikers. 

    Can't wait for you to read the second Barefoot Sister's book! 

    Someday maybe I'll send you a link that my memoir has been published to add to your Toe Salad to-read books...I'm writing a Florida Trail book that's about 2/3 written.


  • Alaina

    Alaina on Aug. 31, 2013, 12:26 a.m.

    These are great resources.  Thank you!  I found the article you provided the link for on homeschool hiking groups very interesting.  I organized two last year and they went fairly well- both winter time.  However I found the real challenge is cold weather and people not prepared for it.  The article mentioned not hiking in less than 20.  I agree on this for people who are not prepared...for example the people that might come to the homeschool hike. Our family seems to be able to manage a bit colder but we are prepared for it.  However it is much harder with littles if they are not moving.  The best way I have found is to "wear" the small babies under a coat when the weather is good enough and for the toddlers etc. to have a sled with hot water bottles in it tucked around their feet.  

    This has renewed my desire to do more hiking with homeschoolers- a good start for me would be organizing at least one per season.  I, too, have found that it works best to do the "we will be here at this time and will be leaving for the hike at this time and you are welcome to join us".  That way I am not dissapointed, my kids aren't disappointed, and I don't have to wait and wait for anyone who might show up or might not.  Although I do like to try to have some RSVPs so I have an idea at least and hope that at least one other adult comes as otherwise its not as safe for me to go alone with my kids. (Since if something happened none of my kids are old enough to get help).  But an alternative might be if no one shows to just do a nature journal idea nearby the parking spot instead of going hiking very far that day.  



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