I love taking kids on hikes, sharing the joys of hiking and teaching them a few outdoor skills along the way. Every couple years a publisher asks me to write a book about hiking with kids and I’m happy to oblige.

"Hiking and Backpacking," a new book for children by John McKinney
“Hiking and Backpacking,” a new book for children by John McKinney

My newest book for children is Hiking and Backpacking (2017, Mason Crest) is oriented to Middle School-aged kids. Published in hardcover, the book’s graphics and design are pretty cool and, combined with my prose, I hope we succeed in inspiring these younger teens to hit the trail. As the back cover copy reads:

“Take a hike! To hikers, that’s a call to action! Hiking is one of the most popular outdoor activities around. In this book, a national hiking expert takes you out on the trail and gives you tips on how to make your trips, fun, unique, and safe. Learn about what gear to bring while backpacking, plus some fun ideas for food on the trail. Also, read about some of the best places to go hiking! Lace on your boots and hit the trail!”



I am forever grateful to the adults who took me on a hike when I was a kid—particularly the Boy Scout leaders of Troop 441 in Downey, California. When the Scouts, in association with DK Books, asked me to write a couple of books, I was delighted for the opportunity to give back to the Scouts and encourage boys to take a hike. “Let’s Go Hiking” was a natural for The Trailmaster.

Honestly, I hesitated for a moment about writing “Let’s Go Geocaching!” because of my strong feelings about technology and how it tends to keep children indoors. Then I thought, well, if going on a high tech treasure hunt with a GPS gets more kids outdoors—great, let’s do it.

The book I wrote for a schoolbook publisher’s “Healthy for Life” Series, was a happy combo of several strong commitments: Hiking, Kids and Health. It’s all color, printed on thick paper and is in hardcover. The publisher added notes about “Life and Career Skills” and “Learning and Innovation Skills” so I hope hiking still comes off as a lot of fun for kids!

After writing these books for kids, I knew I had to write a book to encourage adults to take kids on a hike: Hike with Kids: The Essential Guide for Parents, Grandparents and Youth Leaders.

Eagle Scout John McKinney wrote "Let's Go Hiking" for the Boy Scouts.
Eagle Scout John McKinney wrote “Let’s Go Hiking” for the Boy Scouts.




Let’s Go Hiking! Enthusiastic intro for kids to the art of hiking. Covers gear, clothing, day packs, the ten essentials, boots, basic safety and trail lore in a fun way—and in a way kids will remember. Also highlights navigation, hiking in the various seasons, weather conditions and trail safety. Published in 2011 by DK Books in association with the Scouts.




Let's Go Geocaching, a book for kids by John McKinney
Let’s Go Geocaching, a book for kids by John McKinney


Let’s Go Geocaching! Great intro for kids to this exciting activity that combines tech savvy with trail savvy. Highlights the basics of this digital treasure hunt including selecting and using a GPS unit, how to locate a cache and create one of your own. Outdoors fun for kids of all ages. Published in 2010 by DK Books in association with the Scouts.






Healthy for Life: Hiking



Healthy for Life: Hiking Whether it’s a leisurely walk through a local preserve or a trek up a mountain trail, hiking is a great way to connect with nature and keep fit. Part of a series introducing school children to exciting sports that can be part of a healthy, active lifestyle. Yes, that’s author John McKinney and his son on the cover. Published in 2008 by Cherry Lake Publishing.