Leonard M. Adkins-The Habitual Hiker

"Amidst the greens and the blues of the forest is where I belong and am at the height of my contentment with life."


The Appalachian Trail Conference and Arcadia Publishing are pleased to announce the May 2016 release of Leonard's' newest (and 21st) book, Along the Appalachian Trail: Massachusetts, Vermont, and Hew Haampshire. This is a companion book to his other ATC/​Arcadia Press publications, Along Virginia’s Appalachian Trail, Along the Appalachian Trail: New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, and Along the Appalachian Trail: Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

Selected from the archives of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the National Park Service, historical societies, local Appalachian Trail maintaining clubs, and regional hikers’ private collections, the approximately 200 vintage photographs (many published for the first time) and corresponding narrative in the newest book present a historical perspective on what it took to create the trail, including those who lived along it before and during its creation, the thousands of volunteers and arduous tasks they performed, the many more who have enjoyed the trail through the years, and original routes no longer on the present-day Appalachian Trail.

It was in the early 1900s atop a summit in Vermont that Benton MacKaye envisioned a hiking path along the crest of the Appalachians, beginning in the New England states and extending to those in the South. Along the Appalachian Trail: Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire chronicles the history of the world-famous route in those states, from New England’s hiking and trail-building culture that predated and paved the way for the trail to those who toiled to create it and those who have continued to hike and protect it. Today’s trail is vastly different from its earlier days. This collection of vintage photographs and accompanying text includes its original course and some of the many reroutes it has experienced. It all comes together to illuminate just what an amazing volunteer achievement the existence of the trail is.

Leonard M. Adkins, profiled by Backpacker magazine, and referred to as “The Habitual Hiker,” has hiked more than 20,000 miles exploring the backcountry areas of the U.S., Canada, Europe, and the Caribbean. Almost every hiking season finds him on some new and exciting adventure. He has hiked the full length of the Appalachian Trail five times (click the Hiking GA to ME button above to read reports from the fifth journey), traversed the Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico, followed the Pacific Northwest Trail through Montana, Idaho, and Washington, and walked Canada’s Great Divide Trail. Other long-distance journeys include Vermont’s Long Trail, West Virginia’s Allegheny Trail, and the Ozark Highlands Trail in Arkansas. His adventures in Europe include a trek of the Pyrenees High Route from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean along the border of France and Spain and an exploration of Iceland’s interior.

The off-season is spent writing books and articles. Leonard’s words and photographs have appeared in Islands, Caribbean Travel and Life, Blue Ridge Outdoors, Backpacker, Colorado Daily, Mid-Atlantic Country, Charleston Gazette, and other newspapers, magazines, and websites. He is currently the hiking columnist for Blue Ridge Country and is the hiking blogger for richmondoutdoors.com (click the link in the left column).

Leonard is the author of 20 books on the outdoors, nature, and travel, and his Wildflowers of the Appalachian Trail (photographers Joe and Monica Cook) received the National Outdoor Book Award, ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award, and a Virginia Literary Award nomination. The Appalachian Trail: A Visitor’s Companion was honored by the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation with a Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award.

Leonard is not just a writer; he takes an active part in all of the books he produces. He walked all of the trails he writes about in his hiking guides with a surveyor’s measuring wheel to insure accurate mileage and descriptions. For his travel books Maryland: An Explorer’s Guide, West Virginia: An Explorer's Guide, and Adventure Guide to Virginia, he visited all of the places he describes: bed & breakfasts, restaurants, historic sites, museums, golf courses, bookstores, antique shops, amusement parks, beaches, hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, rafting, and more.

Jobs as an Assistant Director for George Mason University’s Outdoor Education Center and interpreter for the Virginia State Parks system helped increase his knowledge of the outdoors. He has been a ridgerunner and an Appalachian Trail Natural Heritage Monitor-aiding the AT Conservancy and National Park Service in overseeing the welfare of rare and endangered plants-served on the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club's Board of Directors, maintained a section of the Appalachian Trail, and was an editor for the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association's newsletter and is currently a field editor for the Thru-Hiker's Companion.

Recently, the Habitual Hiker has been sharing his love of the outdoors by presenting multimedia programs (please click Presentations above) to an array of audiences. Judging by comments from university students, civic organizations, scout troops, outdoor outfitting customers, naturalists, poets, and armchair travelers, Leonard’s programs have entertained, delighted, and informed. Be it tropical islands, snowcapped peaks, emerald forests, or stark desert tracts, the presentations speak to the inner soul of each of us, reminding us of the peace, contentment, and joy only to be found in the freedom of traveling the natural world on foot.

“Best program of its type I’ve ever seen.”
--Allen Ginsberg, National Poetry Award

“Great show! We had well over 300 enthralled and entertained listeners.”
--L.L. Bean Public Clinic Program

“Best Saturday night entertainment and speaker we’ve ever had.”
West Virginia Writers’ Conference

“The only question the students and I have is: When can you come back?”
--Salisbury University

"Thank you so much for your presentation; it was well received."
--Scoville Memorial Library, Salisbury, CT

“People did not just hear and see your program; they experienced the trail with you.”
--Chesterfield County, VA, Winter Lecture Series

“To call this presentation inspiring just doesn’t seem to do it justice. As one young audience member stated ‘I always knew I wanted to hike the AT, I just didn’t realize (until now) that I want to start tomorrow.’ Be ready to put on your hiking boots! ”
--Henrico Adventure Series

Along with his thru-hiking wife, Laurie “The Umbrella Lady,” Leonard currently lives in Virginia.

Contact Leonard if you need an expert for your next article or book, a speaker for a conference or meeting, wish to purchase a signed copy of one of his books, or just want to “talk trail.”

Leonard has recently received several honors. His book, “Wildflowers of the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains,” was nominated for the Virginia Literary Award, and he has been accepted into the Society of American Travel Writers.

In December, Leonard received the West Virginia Division of Tourism's Stars of the Industry Award for his article "New River Gorge Trails" in Blue Ridge Country Magazine, and in October he received the Award of Merit from the International Regional Magazine Association for his work on the column.

In June, the series of articles he wrote and photographs he took during his hike of the Appalachian Trail (hit the GA-ME button above to read them) received a number of awards from the Society of American Travel Writers (www.satw.org) Atlantic/​Caribbbean Chapter's Writing and Photography Contest. In August, Leonard and the series of articles received a Lifestyle Columnist award from the West Virginia Press Association.

This site and all articles, content, and photographs are copyrighted material. Copyright 2017 by Leonard M. Adkins, www.habitualhiker.com. No content from this website may be reproduced in any form in any media without the express written permission of the author.

Leonard's Books

As the title says, the only guide you will need to explore America's most visited national park! Winner in the Society of American Travel Writers Eastern Chapter 2015 Writing and Photography Contest.
”We specialize in West Virginia books and books written by West Virginia authors and this is the most thorough guide for exploring the state that I have seen." Trans Allegheny Bookstore
Discover hidden secrets in addition to the well-known destinations
No longer do you have to lug dozens of guidebooks into the field with you. The Appalachian Trail: A Visitor's Companion is all you need. Winner of the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation's Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award.
Take you to the very best the Appalachian Trail has to offer
"Adkins' insightful assesments are right on the mark...the historical references and insider's tips made me want to pack my luggage immediately!" Connie Yingling Maryland Office of Tourism Development
"Leonard Adkins has written the essential guide for hiking in Maryland. From the waterfalls of western Maryland to the islands off the coast, Adkins covers the best of the Old Line State." Victoria and Frank Logue, authors of The Appalachian Trail Backpacker
“Good introduction to the classic hikes... everyone will benefit from the interesting natural details.”
--Outdoor Traveler
Wildflowers of the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains:

“Adkins’ insights are as stunning and beautiful as the wildflowers themselves. Each detailed description reveals Adkins’ lifelong immersion in the Southern Appalachian landscape. It’s a precise, practical, and powerful guide for novices and experts alike.” Blue Ridge Outdoors

  Wildflowers of the Appalachian Trail: Winner of National Outdoor Book Award; ForeWord’s Book of the Year; Virginia Literary Award Nomination