When John Soares was asked if he would do a hiking book about Redwoods National and State Parks, he didn’t hesitate.
“I jumped at the opportunity because I truly think it’s one of the world’s treasures,” Soares says of the Redwoods.
“The trails were not new to me at all,” he says, explaining he had visited and hiked the area as a young boy and later while living in Crescent City and rural Del Norte County. “I’ve loved the redwoods from the time I was a teenager.”
Soares’ newest book for The Mountaineers, “Hike the Parks: Best Day Hikes, Walks, and Sights: Redwood National & State Parks,” $16.95, was published earlier this summer. He’s on a book tour giving programs about the redwoods. Upcoming are two readings: Wednesday at REI in Medford and Thursday at the Northwest Nature Shop in Ashland. During the programs, which both begin at 6:30 p.m., he plans to talk about the book, the redwoods and give suggestions on favorite hikes before question-answer sessions.
North and south
While the book’s focus is on the Redwoods National and State Parks, Soares notes it includes information about areas north and south of the parks, including Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. And while trails are featured, the guide also provides information about campgrounds and other activities, including whale watching, exploring tide pools, swimming, paddle boarding, kayaking, mountain biking and taking scenic drives.
The 38 suggested hikes, which cover about 200 miles, include a wide range, with some recommended for youth and families and others for dedicated hikers. Some of the trails are wheelchair accessible. Included with the trail descriptions are directions to trailheads, maps, photos and suggestions on nearby sights and activities.
Hike 35, in Jedediah Smith, features the always popular Stout Grove trail, an easy 1.5-mile walk through some of the world’s most impressive redwoods. But in the accompanying “Going Farther” section, Soares suggests going beyond to either the Mill Creek and Hiouchi trails (hikes 36 and 31) to see equally impressive redwoods. “They’re magnificent and hardly anyone goes there. You’ll have it all to yourself.”
Likewise, in discussing another heavily traveled, short easy Trail 29, the Simpson-Reed and Peterson Memorial Trails, which is known for its vine maple trees, Soares suggests going further. The advantage? “You’ll see 1 percent of the hikers.”
Soares is also the author of other Mountaineer books, including “100 Classic Hikes: Northern California” — the fourth edition was published last year — and “Day Hiking: Mount Shasta, Lassen & Trinity Alps Regions,” also published in 2018. Along with hiking guides, Soares, who lives in Ashland, is a freelance writer who has completed hundreds of projects for businesses and non-profits.
“I’ve been very, very fortunate that this has worked out,” he says of his freelance writing career. “I’m 59 and still hiking. I still have the energy and I still have the desire. I love to hike and I love writing the hiking books so I’ll keep going.”