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Originally published June 21, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified June 27, 2007 at 4:08 AM

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Putting you on the trail of best new outdoors guidebooks

A few tips for updating your outdoors bookshelf in 2007: • Say farewell to the long-running "100 Hikes" guidebooks from the late...

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A few tips for updating your outdoors bookshelf in 2007:

• Say farewell to the long-running "100 Hikes" guidebooks from the late, local trail-roving icons Ira Spring and Harvey Manning.

• Say hello to a new day-hiking series targeted at the prototype of the 21st-century trail explorer: time-strapped and disinclined to sleep under the stars.

• Make room for new editions of two of the best guides ever published on Washington trails.

Here's a roundup, with ratings up to five stars.

BEST IN CLASS

(5 stars)"100 Classic Hikes in Washington," by Ira Spring and Harvey Manning (2nd ed., Mountaineers Books, $21.95)

While their six regional "100 Hikes" are being put out to pasture (see related story), this Spring-Manning book, their greatest-hits opus, will live on. Helen Cherullo, publisher of The Mountaineers Books, says Spring's son John will update the book as needed.

This second edition, released late last year prior to Manning's death in November, includes the same 100 trips (mostly all outstanding) found in the 1998 original. Some photos have changed, and I spotted modifications in 17 trip descriptions, many noting damage done by 2003 storms to access roads and trails.

Manning, in what may be his final published writing, reaffirms his fondness for untamed, nongentrified nature, saying such weather-spawned havoc recalls "what wilderness was in yesteryear ... (when) our regular weekend diet was slide alder and blowdowns." We'll miss his deep-wilderness perspective. If you don't have the original, you should not miss this guide to the state's essential hikes.

(5 stars) "Backpacking Washington," by Douglas Lorain (2nd ed., Wilderness Press, $17.95)

Lorain is a top guidebook author who has earned my trust. He picks great trips, loads his descriptions with smart tips, helpful warnings, inviting side trips and clear maps, and he offers a rating system that really helps a backpacker prioritize options.

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This second edition includes 28 trips (three more than his 2000 book) and features so many superb long-haul trips that I'm hesitant to recommend the book too highly because it gives away most of the trips I hope to attempt over the next several years. It's a dandy guide. Also just out: the second edition of Lorain's similarly excellent "Backpacking Oregon" (Wilderness Press, $18.95).

(4.5 stars) "WOW (Wonder of Wilderness) Guides: North Cascades," by Kathy and Craig Copeland (Wilderness Press, $21.95)

The husband-wife team, who in 1996 published "Don't Waste Your Time in the North Cascades," provides a splendid new take on that premise with this full-color guide to 50 hikes (40 of them day hikes) to grand destinations north of Highway 2.

Maps are clear but basic, and surprisingly the trips are not rated, a departure from their previous book. (Maybe they're all fives, and based on my past experience exploring these routes, that could be the case.) Other than these minor quibbles, this is a sensational guide for summer and fall hikes.

4 stars New day-hiking series from The Mountaineers Books: "Snoqualmie Region" and "South Cascades," both by Dan Nelson, both $18.95; "Olympic Peninsula," by Craig Romano, $18.95; "Oregon Coast," by Bonnie Henderson, $17.95. (Nelson is a regular Northwest Weekend contributor.)

Each compact (5-by-7-inch) volume contains at least 120 hikes, mini-topo maps and — in a break from Mountaineers' precedent — ratings! A great move, but why are those stars used for ratings so tiny?

Lots of people will probably grump about the books' overall small type, but on the plus side the two-color books are thorough and stocked with lesser-known trip suggestions (Koppen Mountain? Bean Creek Basin?) that sound attractive.

Good move: Many descriptions include "extending your trip" sections for turning a day hike into something longer. Nice trip-summary charts at the front of each book, too, though adding the ratings to these charts would have been a nice bonus.

4 stars "Biking Puget Sound," by Bill Thorness (Mountaineers Books, $16.95)

Thorness, a Cascade Bicycle Club member, assembles a fine assortment of 50 rides from Orcas Island to Olympia (from 10.1 to 53.6 miles) with clear maps, elevation profiles, mileage logs and at least one photo per trip. Includes helpful lists (Web links for obtaining urban maps; kid-friendly rides).

PHOTO BOOKS

(4.5 stars)"Galen Rowell: A Retrospective," by the editors of Sierra Club Books ($50)

It's hard to say which photograph is most frequently associated with Rowell — this gorgeous retrospective opens with his famed winter-in-Yosemite sunset shot of a glowing-orange El Capitan towering above a snow-gilded Merced River — but another shot, near the back of the book, beautifully reflects the depth of his skills. It is a fall sunrise scene at Artist Lake in the Heather Meadows area near Mount Baker, where most photographers come for the light show near sunset. Instead, Rowell captures colorful ground cover beautifully frosted and backlit as the first rays of sunshine peek over Mount Shuksan. Lovely. Includes essays and commentaries from many notables, including Tom Brokaw.

4 stars "Washington Then & Now," by Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard (Westcliffe Publishers, $45)

Past and present views shot from the same spot — many urban views plus some natural scenes. Some of this book's most memorable scenes include views of Mount Rainier (1910 and 2005) from the same point along the road to Paradise and before-and-after views of Mount St. Helens (1945 and 2005).

LOCAL/INDEPENDENT RELEASES

3.5 stars "Discovering the Wonders of the Wonderland Trail," by Bette Filley (2nd ed., Dunamis House, $14.95)

Filley just released this revised edition of her popular guide late last year, and before it was even on bookshelves the storms of last November may have rerouted a few trail sections for good, possibly prompting a future rewrite. Still, for hikers seeking a step-by-step, section-by-section, seemingly stone-by-stone guide to the WT, this is your book.

3 stars "Mount Rainier," by Don Geyer (Hancock House, $9.95)

A modest but attractive collection of color photographs showing off some of Rainier's most eye-catching scenes. Geyer offers general guidelines (at times a little too general) on how to position yourself to achieve similar shots.

ALSO NEW

3.5 stars "Pilates for the Outdoor Athlete," by Lauri Ann Stricker (Fulcrum, $27.95): I asked an outdoor-minded fitness/Pilates instructor to examine this pricey, nicely illustrated book, written by a "certified, classically trained" Pilates teacher. Her take: "The explanations were great. I like that she pointed out exercises specific to sport, as well as stretches and alternate exercises for strengthening. I think athletes could really benefit from it."

3.5 stars "Lighthouses of Washington," by Bruce Roberts and Ray Jones (Insiders' Guide/Globe Pequot, $9.95): Attractively presented with full-color photos, compact, glove box-friendly design; driving directions vary in detail from adequate to nearly nonexistent.

3.5 stars "The Photographer's Guide to Puget Sound & Northwest Washington," by Rod Barbee (Countryman Press, $14.95): Useful — includes locations, suggestions for time to visit, parking tips. Includes some decent tips for car-bound visitors to Olympic National Park.

3 stars "Hiking Washington's William O. Douglas Wilderness," by Fred Barstad (Falcon/Globe Pequot, $16.95): Barstad has churned out Falcon guides for the Goat Rocks Wilderness, Mount Adams and other Southern Washington destinations. He concedes he had never stepped into the Douglas Wilderness until Falcon sent him there, and he came up with 44 trips. Barstad is good with trail details, but his generic accounts make it hard to pick out which trails made his heart sing.

3 stars "Joy of Backpacking," by Brian Beffort (Wilderness Press, $19.95): A competent, comprehensive overview of the activity; most helpful when discussing specialized situations (hiking with kids, desert travel).

2.5 stars "You Know You're in Washington When ... " by Sharon Wootton and Maggie Savage (Insiders' Guide/Globe Pequot, $12.50): A pleasant assortment of Washington trivia. Mildly amusing.

2.5 stars "An Explorer's Guide to Washington," by Denise Fainberg (Countryman Press, $25): Not all that different from what you would find in a Fodor's guide (with listings of farmers markets and selected eateries), only with a slight emphasis on outdoor options such as cycling and birding.

2.5 stars "Waterfalls of the Pacific Northwest," by David Anderson (Countryman Press, $17.95): Nice, but no book can match the database of Bryan Swan's waterfallsnorthwest.com.

2 stars "Outdoors Online," by Erika Dillman (Mountaineers Books, $14.95): Interesting in places, but uneven in its offerings. Just four links provided for outdoor guide services, five for the sport of unicycling?

Revised guidebooks

4 stars "National Geographic Guide to the National Parks of the United States" (5th ed.), $25.

3.5 stars "Pacific Northwest Camping" (9th ed.), by Tom Stienstra (Moon Outdoors, $22.95).

3.5 stars "Don't Forget the Duct Tape" (2nd ed.), by Kristin Hostetter (Mountaineers Books, $7.95).

3 stars "Amphibians of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia" (2nd ed.), by Charlotte Corkran and Chris Thoms (Lone Pine, $19.95).

3 stars "The Athletic-Minded Traveler" (2nd ed.), by Jim Kaese and Paul Huddle (Athletic-Mined Traveler, $18.95). Where to work out in U.S. cities.

2.5 stars "Off the Beaten Path: Washington" (7th ed.), by Myrna Oakley (Insiders' Guide/Globe Pequot, $13.95).

New/revised Oregon titles

3.5 stars "Oregon's Pacific Crest Trail: Day & Overnight Hikes," by Paul Gerald (Menasha Ridge Press, $13.95).

3.5 stars "Best Hikes with Kids: Oregon," by Bonnie Henderson (Mountaineers Books, $16.95).

3.5 stars "Oregon's Best Wildflower Hikes: Southwest Region," by Elizabeth Horn (Westcliffe Publishers, $19.95).

3 stars "Oregon" (7th ed.), by Elizabeth and Mark Morris (Moon Handbooks, $19.95).

3 stars "Coastal Oregon" (2nd ed.), by Elizabeth and Mark Morris (Moon Handbooks, $17.95).

2.5 stars "Oregon Fishing," by Craig Schuhmann (Moon Outdoors, $19.95).

Freelance writer Terry Wood is a content editor at REI.com involved with the site's library of Expert Advice articles. Reach him at farhiker@rei.com.

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