Not a backcountry trail warrior? Don't have more than a morning or afternoon to take a hike? Then Best Easy Day Hikes, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is for you.
This pocket-sized book by Randy Johnson features more than 20 nice hikes pulled from possibilities all over the 800 square miles that are Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Mr. Johnson, a contributing writer to the Traveler who has a prolific written record of exploring Great Smoky, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and other public lands in the region by foot, split the Smokies in quadrants -- northeast, southeast, southwest, and northwest -- to make it easy for you to find a nice hike no matter where in the park you find yourself.
The format is straightforward: Each hike opens with a short description, followed by a breakdown of distance, approximate hiking time, difficulty, trail surface, other trail users (ie equestrian), best season, canine compatibility, fees and permits, schedule (ie, months accessible), maps, trail contacts (ie, the park's webpage), special considerations, and other (ie, unusual factors, trails that are an exception to the "easy" premise of the book, weather conditions specific to higher elevations). This information is followed by directions to the trailhead.
From there Mr. Johnson dives into the narrative of the hike, a section of text that runs about a page. Each hike also is accompanied by a map of the trail and where it's located in the park. There's also a "Miles and Directions" chart that contains key waypoints along the hike. For instance, in the Ramsay Cascades hike the chart calls out when you "cross the last big bridge to the north side of Ramsay Prong" (3.0 miles), and when you reach Ramsay Cascades (4.0 miles).
If you really are short of time, you'll appreciate the Trail Finder in the front of the book that breaks out hikes by such categories as "Best Hikes for Waterfalls," "Best Hikes for Geology Lovers," "Best History Hikes," and "Best Hikes for Children."
In sum, this is a simple, well laidout book for park visitors interested in short hikes with great payoffs.