The beautiful Great Smoky Mountains provide the inspiration for this unique hiking guide—designed especially for the average tourist or hiking enthusiast seeking a morning or afternoon walk in the Smokies that will prove pleasant and fun. All 110 hikes in The Afternoon Hiker are easily accessible and average 6-8 miles roundtrip.
In the late 1990s, Lin and J.L. Stepp began to explore and hike the trails in the Smokies. They bought several books and guides – checked others out at the library – but quickly found many of these books did not describe aspects of the mountain trails in any detail until eight to ten miles from the trailhead. As “non-Sierra-club” afternoon hikers – they’d often turned around and come back by that point!
A journaler by nature, Lin wrote brief descriptions of their trail explorations after every outing while J.L. documented their hikes with photos. The couple soon began to envision creating a book of their experiences to share with others.
Although a large quantity of trail guides exist on the market, Lin and J.L. found many lacked specific information they wanted to know about the Smokies trails—specific distances from one point to another, interesting highlights along the way, and more accurate evaluations of trail difficulty for average individuals. As hikers less intent on the long march and covering the miles rapidly – the Stepps enjoyed stopping and exploring old cemeteries and settlers’ homes off the trail, climbing down a bank to enjoy a hidden waterfall, or ambling through a field to study a giant hollowed-out tree. Their guidebook includes these personal “finds” and adventures, ongoing mileage notes to better evaluate distance from one point to another, and more accurate evaluations of the difficulty of hikes for average individuals.
The 110 hikes in The Afternoon Hiker are arranged chronologically—in the order Lin and J.L. hiked them—but the book includes both a regional and alphabetical index to locate trails by name or area, along with a Smokies map. The hiking layout in the book is one of its most distinctive features. With every turn of the page, the reader encounters a new trail to read about. Each Tennessee or North Carolina hike description spreads over two pages, around accompanying photos, with the trail name, the season the trail was first hiked, a general rating of the hike, and clear directions to get to the trailhead. The book includes over 300 photos to enhance the text plus a hiking patch created for each trail.
This is the perfect hiking guide for the occasional hiker, for busy professionals wanting to get away to the mountains for a weekend break, or for tourists visiting the Smoky Mountains and seeking a hiking trail they can enjoy for a memorable afternoon.