Book review: ‘On Trails’ by Robert Moor

One inherent purpose and benefit of a good trail is that you are seldom required to examine it; instead you are free to let your mind wander as you follow it. Robert Moor’s new book, On Trails, takes a close look at trails, paths, desire lines, as he researches the long history of trails, from the Precambrian to the postmodern. It is surprising how the significance of trails abounds in many schools of thought, including religion, and eye-opening to delve into how trails form, how the path of least resistance often becomes the only path. Moor, a recipient of the Middlebury Fellowship in Environmental Journalism, began mulling over this question as he hiked the Appalachian Trail and discovered the duality of thru-hiking as a way to be free from the daily constraints of living yet confining himself to the trail as a way of limiting his options. This book is filled with dualities of that nature: “The freedom of the trail is riverine, not oceanic.” Conducting research on foot and by interviewing experts, the resulting exploration is a highly enjoyable read, a perfect companion to a long summer evening, whether on your back porch or at a lean-to on the AT. 
Mark your calendars: Robert Moor will read from and sign On Trails at the Vermont Book Shop, Thursday, Sept. 15 at 6:30 p.m.
? Reviewed by Jenny Lyons of the Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury 

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