Regional Hiking Guides
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Having been there done that with California, though, I'd be interested in hearing other hiking guide recommendations for other states and regions of the world. Ones that are special to you. I enjoy reading hiking guide trip descriptions from areas I'm not familiar with. Next best thing to being there. And especially guides that include great colorful topos whose contour lines and trails are actually readable w/out pulling out the magnifying glass.
I do thend to find though that mostly I'm not starting form the same place that all the trail guides do, or that I need to end somewhere different... nearly always end upmakingmy own route up from the map or these days even online.
The Lake District has long been a dream hiking destination someday.
I don't think I've ever followed a hiking guide verbatim on any given trip myself either; no matter how well planned, there's just inevitably some spontaneous side excursion that trumps my "plans," and typically makes the adventure even better than it would have been otherwise. But I still like the guides for their ideas and the commentary of experienced travelers who've already explored unfamiliar terrain I'm about to venture into.
The late Paul Jamieson's Adirondack Canoe Waters also published by the Adiriondack Mountain Club are my favorite guide of all. Paul was a very literate and descriptive writer but precise and certainly not wordy. It is a model of how to write a guide of any sort.