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Soleful Hiking – A Beginner’s Guide to Mindful Hiking


Book Review: Soleful Hiking – A Beginner’s Guide to Mindful Hiking

By Paula Phillips Marky

With dozens of parks and hundreds of miles of trails, the North Bay is a treasure trove for the hiking enthusiast. But often getting started might seem daunting to the person who is just beginning to hike and unsure what trails suit their level of experience.

“Soleful Hiking” helps the beginner hiker with solid information about what to wear and what to bring in Part One of the book. Safety suggestions and an informative section called “Creature Features” guides the hiker through the reality of being outdoors with the “local residents”. A brief history of the area is covered in the book along with local facts that can be informative as well as fun for children and adults.

Part Two contains more than 50 hikes in Sonoma, Marin, and Napa counties as well as along the Mendocino Coast. The level of difficulty for each hike is indicated based on a beginner hiker’s ability. Also included is whether the trail is dog friendly and if bikes and equestrians share the trail. Visitors to the area with just tennis shoes and a bottle of water can find suitable hikes as well.

Each park’s website is listed so that the hiker can access directly to it. They can download a trail map or make a copy, which is recommended. For the larger parks an enlarged area of the described hike is included. The emphasis is for the beginner to learn to read and follow a trail map with directions for a specific hike outlined. Photos taken by the author are included to enhance the experience for many of the hikes presented in the book.

Paula Phillips Marks is a Sonoma County native who has been hiking North Bay trails for 20 years. She taught the “Walking Class” at Santa Rosa Junior College for 6 years, emphasizing slowing down and enjoying the beauty of these trails and parks. She focused on being a well prepared hiker who had maps in hand and would learn to continue to enjoy the presented hikes well after the class was over. 

“Soleful Hiking” represents her philosophy of being mindful and aware of your surroundings. She shares her own learning experiences as well as her enjoyment on the trail and shares this joy with others.