“America’s Best Day Hikes” by Derek Dellinger- A Review

How do you make your hiking bucket list? I think anyone who loves the outdoors has a bucket list of some kind, of some outdoor adventure that they will go on one day. My two dream adventures would be fishing in Alaska and climbing the highest peak in every state. I also have a hiking bucket list, of all the places in the United States, that I would love to go for day hikes.

The inspiration for my bucket lists comes mainly from online articles, Pinterest, and books. If anyone has not noticed yet, I love books! And I love books about the outdoors and adventure. There is nothing like a hard copy book to leaf through, to inspire imagination, excitement and travels. That is why I was so excited when I received a copy of America’s Best Day Hikes” by Derek Dellinger. Just by looking at the cover, I knew I was going to enjoy this book. I have lots of hiking guides for various places, some pretty thorough and others, not so much. I can tell you, this is the best book to get you to start your hiking bucket list if you do not already have one. **Please note, this book was sent to me free of charge in exchange for my honest review. I only review items that I love and all opinions are my own. This post may contain affiliate links and by clicking on them, I might earn a small commission.

About “America’s Best Day Hikes- Spectacular Single-Day Hikes Across the States ” by Derek Dellinger and published by Countryman Press– This beautiful book has full color photographs, maps and very detailed information on some very well-known routes and others a bit obscure, but worth the hike. Any hiker, novice or expert, will find something new in this gorgeous book. With general hiking tips to very detail-oriented information on day hikes throughout the US, any travel or outdoors person would be ecstatic to add this to their book collection. It is even more spectacular than what the title indicates. Because there are thousands of places to hike in the US, Dellinger makes it possible to find places that are unique, accessible, and achievable for anyone in decent shape and willing to plan a little. There are fifty different trails to explore in the lower forty-eight.

From the inside cover- “Celebrating the grandeur and variety of the American landscape, “America’s Best Day Hikes” takes you on a journey across the country’s most scenic hiking destination. With a focus on single-day hikes for adventurers of all skill levels, this curated tour of can’t-miss trails in every region will help you prepare for your next expedition with turn-by-turn trails notes, safety and planning tips, and vibrant photography”. -Excerpt used with permission from Countryman Press, October 2019

Please note, this post may contain affiliate links. By clicking on those links, I may earn a small commision at no cost to you.

This book is divided into eight sections, as follows:

  • Introduction– Why Dellinger wrote this book, how he chose what trails to feature, and multiple useful tips including bear safety, what to bring on a day hike, weather and navigation
  • Map– America’s Best Day Hikes- a map of the lower forty-eight and which hikes are in each state
  • Northwest– includes trails for Washington, Oregon and Northern California
  • Southwest– includes trails for California, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas
  • Mountain– includes trails from Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana
  • Midwest– includes trails from Oklahoma, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio
  • Southeast– includes trails from Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennesee, North Carolina, and West Virginia
  • Northeast– includes trails from Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine

There are so many hikes to choose from and so many places to explore. Because of living here, I will always be partial to Montana. With thousands of areas to hike here, Dellinger included three from Montana: the Grinnell Glacier Trail and the Highline Trail in Glacier National Park and the Blodgett Canyon Overlook. I got a little giddy when I saw that Blodgett was featured because it is just a few canyons away from my house and one of the most beautiful and easiest hikes in my valley. The pride and excitement from my little part of the world being featured in this stunning book, is an amazing feeling.

Want to take a peak inside? Here is an excerpt from the book.

“Excerpted from America’s Best Day Hikes. Copyright 2019 The Countryman Press. Reproduced by permission of The Countryman Press. All rights reserved.”

Blodgett Canyon Overlook pg.s 194-197

Blodgett Canyon Overlook pg 194, Excerpted from “America’s Best Day Hikes“. Copyright 2019 The Countryman Press. Reproduced by permission of The Countryman Press. All rights reserved.

Montana: Bitterroot National Forest

Distance: 3 miles

Elevation Gain: 550 feet

Time Commitment: 1 to 2 hours

Fee: None

Dogs: Permitted

Camping Along Trail: No

Difficulty: Relatively easy climb up a short trail; requires some exertion but no particular challenges.

As an amateur photographer, I’ve become used to looking at the vistas on hikes from a variety of perspectives. I’m still that same small, humbled human gaping out at the sheer scale of nature, of course. Inevitably, though, I’ll also enjoy my landscapes with an eye for composition—attempting to capture the view before me in a way that will translate into a photograph. On some hikes, however, this hobby feels downright futile. Some views are just too breathtakingly massive to ever be captured. The Blodgett Canyon Overlook is one such place: a sudden overview of a space too vast and intricate to come across in a picture. There’s nothing to do but stand there and enjoy the scenery in person for as long as you’re able to stay. And if that’s the only way to really appreciate how grand this vista is, well, then it’s all the more reason for recommending this particular hike.

To the west of this overlook, where Blodgett Canyon snakes into the mountains toward the Idaho border, one would have to walk for nearly a hundred miles before coming upon anything resembling a town. However, what makes this hike special is the beauty found on all parts of the trail and its relative accessibility for all levels of hiker. At only around 3 miles round-trip, the Blodgett Canyon Overlook can be tackled confidently even by inexperienced hikers. And the rewards start almost at once, with open meadows and views down into the Bitterroot Valley. Of course, after only a short distance hiking, one reaches the tremendous expanse of the Blodgett Canyon.

While there are no grizzly bears in this area, hikers have reported encountering black bears in the Blodgett Valley below, and it is always a good idea to carry bear spray. While the chances of a bear encounter here may be small, there are plenty of other potentially dangerous animals you might run into. Hikers have also reported moose on the trail—these huge animals can be quite dangerous if they charge, so, as always, keep a safe distance.

Trail Overview

From the parking area, the trail forks immediately. Turn right at the sign as the trail heads uphill. You will begin to ascend through an area of scree, though the trail cuts cleanly through the rock slope, so you will not have to do any scrambling.

The trail switchbacks up a steep slope, and soon you will have views down toward the valley and the town of Hamilton, as well as the distant Sapphire Mountains in the east. At 0.4 mile you will reach a bench overlook that faces Canyon Peak. Continue, and at 0.6 mile you will pass another bench, this one facing east, toward the valley. Along the way, amid the grand ponderosa pines, you will also notice the burnt remains of wildfires from past years.

At 1 mile you will glimpse the Blodgett Canyon opening up ahead. After another half a mile, you will reach the canyon overlook. Here a variety of rocky outcrops offer perches with stunning views into the canyon.

When you are ready to return, retrace your steps back to the parking area.


The trailhead is accessed up a winding, steep dirt service road which might pose issues, depending on the sort of vehicle you drive. Larger vans and RVs may not be able to navigate this nerve-wracking road, cars with low clearance will need to watch out for large rocks on the road, and all vehicles will want to use extreme caution if attempting this route when there may be snow or ice. The parking area is small, and on weekends with nice weather, it may not be possible to find a parking spot. Early mornings or weekdays are best for guaranteed parking. If hiking in the early morning or evening, be especially vigilant for wildlife.

Getting There

The trailhead can be found on Google Maps by navigating to “Blodgett Overlook Trailhead.” The parking area is located at the end of Canyon Creek Road North.” -End of excerpt.

What Do I Think About This Book– As I mentioned earlier, I have quite a collection of guide books for areas all over the United States. Some of them have detailed maps and very little information. Others have gorgeous pictures, and outdated or inaccurate information about the trails. This book however, is one of the best ones. I found it helpful, informative, accurate and a pleasure to look through and get inspired to explore new, wild places. Many of these I have explored, and there is quite a few I have added to my bucket list.

Dellinger has also written “50 Hikes in the Upper Hudson Valley” and coauthor of “50 Hikes in the Catskills”. Be sure to follow him on Instagram at @dellingerderek to catch more of his stunning images.

How do you get inspiration for your bucket list? Is it for hiking or traveling or world adventures? Try to get outside more. Don’t let anything stop you and be outside with no limits.

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  • Lee Anne

    4 years agoReply

    Awesome, thanks for sharing! This is right up our alley 🙂 Would be a great Christmas gift!!

  • Holly Bird

    4 years agoReply

    Great review..This book would be an amazing gift for the holidays! Hiking takes planning and this book is a great reference and inspiring for any hiker!

  • Lisa

    4 years agoReply

    We love how the book is broken down into sections. Thank you for sharing.

  • Brianna

    4 years agoReply

    This is a great review and also very in depth. Thank you for providing this information, I’ll have to check this book out. I love inspirational ideas for new places to hike!

  • Tiffany

    4 years agoReply

    Looks like some road trips are in my future! Love my state, wish there was more nature around (nature being mountains!)

  • Eva

    4 years agoReply

    I love books, love a day hike, and I love reading to plan for future trips of all kinds. What a cool resource this book is.

  • Eileen

    4 years agoReply

    This looks like a great book! I don’t love to go hiking as the cold weather sets in quite as much, but I try to remember the old saying- there is no such thing as poor weather, only poor clothes.


    4 years agoReply

    What a wonderful book! I love the gorgeous pictures and the detail! Perfect coffee table book!

  • Cynthia

    4 years agoReply

    This looks like a great book. It would also be a great Christmas gift-maybe I’ll get it for my hubs 😉 Thanks for sharing!

  • Jennifer L Markell

    4 years agoReply

    Wow, I have never heard of this book before and I am super excited to check it out. My hubs and I are so into hiking as part of our vacation nowadays. This may be a great Christmas gift for him. Shhhh… ? Thanks for the info!

  • Tracy

    4 years agoReply

    This looks like a lot of great info. Thanks for the recommendation!

  • Lisa

    4 years agoReply

    I love hiking too! I am planning a Montana trip when my daughter is in 4th grade so we can get the national park pass!

    • admin

      4 years agoReply

      Do it!! Montana is amazing!

  • Liza Brackbill

    4 years agoReply

    Thanks for sharing this! I’m a hiking guide in Yellowstone and Tetons, so I’ll have to check this one out;)

    • admin

      4 years agoReply

      If you happen to be on the Montana side of Yellowstone, you need to fo hiking in the ‘Root.

  • Magan

    4 years agoReply

    I love this! I’m so glad it has the level of difficulty with each hike as well. For noobs like me, that is SO necessary. Lol.

  • Jen

    4 years agoReply

    Perfect Christmas gift for a hiker! Thank you for sharing!

    • Christina Furnival

      4 years agoReply

      Sounds like a great book that offers awesome information to ensure wonderful hikes!

  • jen

    4 years agoReply

    What a great book and just in time for Christmas. i might have to get this to just keep with us in our travels.

  • Jennifer Morrison

    4 years agoReply

    This sounds like a great book! I love that it shares all of the info you need to be able to plan ahead for a good day.

  • Tricia Snow

    4 years agoReply

    What a great gift for the outdoorsman in your family! Just in time for the holidays

  • Suzan

    4 years agoReply

    Looks like a great book for all those hikers! I have a few in my life this would make a great gift for 🙂

  • Haley Kelley

    4 years agoReply

    This is a great book! I didn’t know anything like that existed and it’s so cool

  • Dena

    4 years agoReply

    Such a great book review! I will have to check it out. Thanks! 🙂

  • Tara

    4 years agoReply

    Thank you for the book suggestion; I love coffee table books and this looks like a great one and with content that I would LOVE!

  • Jasmine

    4 years agoReply

    Seems like a great book and I love your photos!

  • Lisa

    4 years agoReply

    What a great book! I love that it is sectioned into regions of the US…will need to check this out 🙂

  • Jody

    4 years agoReply

    This is a neat book I love hiking may have to check this out. Thank you

  • Cindy

    4 years agoReply

    What a gorgeous book for the outdoor enthusiast! After being sidelined for years with chronic sciatica, it’s been a joy to hike trails and walk through cities again. I’ll have to look for this book.

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