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Nature of the Appalachian Trail: Your Guide to Wildlife, Plants, and Geology


A new and updated edition of Leonard's SATW Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award-winning book has just been published!!!


Just Named the Silver Award Winner in the 2021 Independent Book Publisher Association's Ben Franklin Awards!!!




There are now hundreds of books concerning the Appalachian Trail, including a few fanciful picture books for children. However, All About The Appalachian Trail is the very first written for readers in grades 4-8 that provides a complete overview of the world's most famous hiking trail. All About the Appalachian Trail is designed for children 9-13 years of age and their parents, teachers, and librarians to enjoy together. Leonard covers it all: the route, history, geology, and animals of the trail, along with chapters about hiking equipment and Leave No Trace ethics. There's even a profile of the trail's most famous users—thru-hikers—and quotes designed to not only inspire everyone to take a hike, but to also volunteer to help maintain and protect the trail. In conjunction with the book, there is an available downloadable Teacher's Guide with sample questions and activities to stimulate further discussion and knowledge of the trail.


All About the Appalachian Trail was just named a finalist in the Independent Book Publisher Association's Ben Franklin Awards. The Gold and Silver Award winners will be announced on May 11, 2020. Stay tuned!





Menasha Ridge Press and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy announce the third edition of Leonard's award-winning Wildflowers of the Appalachian Trail. In an 8" X 8" format and featuring the same stunning full-page color photographs by Joe Cook and Monica Sheppard, the new edition contains additional wildflowers. Leonard’s detailed descriptions include bloom seasons, leaves and stem descriptions, and geographic ranges of growth, along with the fascinating role the wildflowers have played throughout history and their value in folklore as well as in modern medicine. Citations to more than sixty additional species with respect to their distinguishing features are included. Uniquely, the book notes specific sites along the trail where flower species may be seen. The book’s first edition received the National Outdoor Book and Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year awards and a Virginia Literary Award nomination.



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 several hunndred miles of Canada’s Great Divide Trail. Other long-distance journeys include Vermont’s Long Trail, West Virginia’s Allegheny Trail, the Mid-Atlantic's Tuscarora 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. His New Zealand adventures include a traverse of the Milford Track and some of the country's other Great walks.

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 Good Walk columnist for Blue Ridge Country magazine.

Leonard is the author of 21 books on the outdoors, nature, and travel, and his Wildflowers of the Appalachian Trail (photographers Joe Cook and Monica Sheppard) 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.

He has also 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 the Award of Merit from the International Regional Magazine Association for his work on the column.

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) Eastern Chapter's Writing and Photography Contest and a Lifestyle Columnist award from the West Virginia Press Association.

This site and all articles, content, and photographs are copyrighted material. Copyright 2022 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.


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