[July 2019 | San Juan Silver Stage] By Sara Rinne, Maggie’s Books.
Kelvin Kent, author of Trails Less Traveled: 27 Adventurous Hikes out of Ouray, Colorado, is a veteran hiker and has explored mountains all over the world. However, he is an expert at hiking the San Juans, and his guides to routes in our region are among the best books you can use in order to explore all that our mountains have to offer.
Trails Less Traveled is Kent’s follow up to the popular Ouray Hiking Guide. I love this book because, as you might surmise by the title, it is a guide to lesser-known, and thus, less traveled hikes. Kent mentions, in his “Thanks and Appreciation” at the beginning of the book, that, “We are constantly on the lookout for new trails and other exciting hiking experiences, especially in places that may be less traveled, and which offer new and different perspectives.” The fact that hiking creates the opportunity to experience a new and different perspective is possibly one of the best reasons I can think of for lacing up your boots and hitting the trail.
My own copies of Kent’s books are well-worn and live permanently in my hiking pack. What I like best about these guides, and Trails Less Traveled in particular, is the amount of practical information that Kent packs into each hike’s description. When you use these books, you benefit not only from detailed maps, important safety information, and optional add-on routes, but also from Kent’s thorough research and descriptions of every aspect of the trail. He assigns a difficulty rating to each hike, from easy to moderate to very difficult. Most of the hikes in Trails Less Traveled are easy/moderate or moderate, which is just right for me. Kent not only describes the hikes in terms of distance and elevation gain, but he also mentions things like water availability, which is necessary when you hike with your dog like I always do. He gives detailed driving directions to the trailheads, and recommends high clearance or 4-wheel drive vehicles, when necessary. Most importantly for these lesser known trails, Kent describes what to look for in terms of landscapes and milestones in order to make sure you are staying on route. He also offers GPS coordinates, and recommends the USGS topographic map that corresponds to each hike.
For those who want to experience our mountains off the beaten path, and have new hiking adventures, I can’t recommend Trails Less Traveled highly enough. All hikers, from novices to experts, will find a new adventure within its pages. Trails Less Traveled is published by Wayfinder Press in Ridgway, Colorado, and is available at independent bookstores and visitor centers throughout our region.