The best books for women who love the outdoors

Who am I?

Jennifer Pharr Davis has covered over 14,000 miles - and explored trails on six different continents - and in all fifty states. In 2011 she set a record on the Appalachian Trail by covering 2,190 mile miles in 46 days (an average of 47 miles per day). Jennifer is a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year and a member of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition.

I wrote...

Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail

By Jennifer Pharr Davis,

Book cover of Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail

What is my book about?

After graduating from college, Jennifer isn't sure what she wants to do with her life. Through inexperienced and unprepared, she feels drawn to the Appalachian Trail and sets out along on the long-distance footpath that stretches 2, 175 miles from Georgia to Maine. The next five months are the most physically and emotionally challenging of her life--coping with blisters and aching shoulders, hiking through endless torrents of rain and a blizzard, facing unwanted company and encountering tragedy. The trail becomes a modern day Odyssey that tests Jennifer's faith in God, humanity and herself. But even at her lowest points, it provides enduring friendships, unexpected laughter, and the gift of self-discovery. With every step she takes, Jennifer transitions from an over-confident college graduate to a student of the trail. As she travels along the ridges of the ancient mountain chain, she realizes that she isn't walking through nature--she realizes she is part of nature. And she learns that the Appalachian Trails is more than a 2,175 mile hike: it is a journey that will change a person forever.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Grandma Gatewood's Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail

Why did I love this book?

Grandma Gatewood is the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail alone. She accomplished the feat at age 67 and then went on to hike the trail another two times! But when you read this book you realize that she is a woman of endurance in more ways than one. A very inspiring read.

By Ben Montgomery,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Grandma Gatewood's Walk as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

2014 National Outdoor Book Award Winner in History / Biography

Emma Gatewood told her family she was going on a walk and left her small Ohio hometown with a change of clothes and less than two hundred dollars. The next anybody heard from her, this genteel, farm-reared, sixty-seven-year-old great-grandmother had walked 800 miles along the 2,050-mile Appalachian Trail. By September 1955 she stood atop Maine’s Mount Katahdin, sang “America, the Beautiful,” and proclaimed, “I said I’ll do it, and I’ve done it.”

Driven by a painful marriage, Grandma Gatewood not only hiked the trail alone, she was the first person—man…

Book cover of Untamed: The Wildest Woman in America and the Fight for Cumberland Island

Why did I love this book?

Carol Ruckdeschel is one of the foremost naturalists of our time. The majority of her learning did not come from books or classrooms but from tens of thousands of hours spent outdoors studying animals and their environment. A book that leaves you feeling more wild.

By Will Harlan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Untamed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Carol Ruckdeschel is the wildest woman in America. She wrestles alligators, eats roadkill, rides horses bareback, and lives in a ramshackle cabin that she built by hand in an island wilderness. A combination of Henry David Thoreau and Jane Goodall, Carol is a self-taught scientist who has become a tireless defender of sea turtles on Cumberland Island, a national park off the coast of Georgia.

Cumberland, the country’s largest and most biologically diverse barrier island, is celebrated for its windswept dunes and feral horses. Steel magnate Thomas Carnegie once owned much of the island, and in recent years, Carnegie heirs…

Book cover of Gorge: My Journey Up Kilimanjaro at 300 Pounds

Why did I love this book?

Hikers come in all colors, shapes, and sizes. Kara proves that the summit does not belong to people who look like Patagonia models, but to anyone who is willing to carry their weight and offload their burdens. An inspiring read for anyone who wants to climb Kilimanjaro and individuals who have dealt with eating disorders.

By Kara Richardson Whitely,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gorge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Kara knew she could reach the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. She had done it once before. That's why, when she failed in a second attempt, it brought her so low. As she struggled with food addiction and looked for ways to cope with feelings of failure and shame, Kara's weight shot to more than 300 pounds. Deep in her personal gorge, Kara realized the only way out was up. She resolved to climb the mountain again,and this time, she would reach the summit without waiting for her plus-sized status to disappear. Gorge: My Journey Up Kilimanjaro at 300 Pounds is…

Book cover of A Beautiful Work In Progress

Why did I love this book?

The author of this book is an amazing combination of personable and empowering. She takes readers on her journey from a city kid growing up in NYC to a trail runner who explores the most scenic trails in the US. When you are finish you will feel like you have a new friend and some new inspiration.

By Mirna Valerio,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Beautiful Work In Progress as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Runners' vocabulary is full of acronyms like DNS for "Did Not Start" and DNF for "Did Not Finish," but when Mirna Valerio stepped up to the starting line, she needed a new one: DNQ for "Did Not Quit."

Valerio has tied on her running shoes all across the country, from the dusty back roads of central New Jersey to the busy Route 222 corridor in Pennsylvania to the sweltering deserts of Arizona. When you meet her on the trail, you might be surprised to see she doesn't quite fit the typical image of a long-distance runner. She's neither skinny nor…

Book cover of Mud, Rocks, Blazes: Letting Go on the Appalachian Trail Heather Anderson

Why did I love this book?

This is the story of Heather’s Fastest Known Time on the Appalachian Trail, but it is also the story of a woman learning to dig deeper and find confidence and contentment off the trail. It will make you realize that you have reserves that you have not yet tapped.

By Heather Anderson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Mud, Rocks, Blazes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Despite her success setting a self-supported Fastest Known Time record on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2013, Heather “Anish” Anderson still had such deep-seated insecurities that she became convinced her feat had been a fluke. So two years later she set out again, this time hiking through mud, rocks, and mountain blazes to crush her constant self-doubt and seek the true source of her strength and purpose.

The 2,180 miles of the Appalachian Trail, from Maine to Georgia, did not make it easy. Anderson struggled with its infamous rain, humidity, insects, and steep grades for 54 days. But because she…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in hiking, running, and Georgia (USA)?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about hiking, running, and Georgia (USA).

Hiking Explore 38 books about hiking
Running Explore 15 books about running
Georgia (USA) Explore 75 books about Georgia (USA)