A Walk in the Woods

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For the play by Lee Blessing, see A Walk in the Woods (play). For the film based on the book, see A Walk in the Woods (film).
A Walk in the Woods
Bill Bryson A Walk In The Woods.jpg
Front cover of the American paperback edition.
Author Bill Bryson
Illustrator David Cook
Country United States
Language English
Subject Appalachian Trail
Publisher HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date
4 May 1998
Media type Hardcover
Pages 274 pp (first edition)
ISBN 0-7679-0251-3
OCLC 37903447
917.404/43 21
LC Class F106 .B92 1998

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail is a 1998 book by travel writer Bill Bryson, describing his attempt to walk the Appalachian Trail with his friend "Stephen Katz". The book is written in a humorous style, interspersed with more serious discussions of matters relating to the trail's history, and the surrounding sociology, ecology, trees, plants, animals and people.


The book starts with Bryson explaining his curiosity about the Appalachian Trail near his house. He and his old friend Stephen Katz start hiking the trail from the state of Georgia in the south, and stumble in the beginning with the difficulties of getting used to their equipment; Bryson also soon realizes how difficult it is to travel with his friend, who is a crude, overweight recovering alcoholic, and even less prepared for the ordeal than he is. Overburdened, they soon discard much extra food and equipment to lighten their loads.

After hiking for what seemed to him a large distance, they realize they have still barely begun while in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and that the whole endeavor is simply too much for them. They skip a huge section of the trail, beginning again in Roanoke, Virginia. The book recounts Bryson's desire to seek easier terrain as well as "a powerful urge not to be this far south any longer." This section of the hike finally ends (after nearly 800 miles (1,300 km) of hiking) with Bryson going on a book tour and Katz returning to Des Moines to work.

In the following months Bryson continues to hike several smaller parts of the trail, including a visit to Centralia, an environmentally poisoned mining town in Pennsylvania, and eventually reunites with Katz to hike the Hundred Mile Wilderness in Maine, which again proves too daunting. The fact that Bryson did not complete the trail is not surprising since fewer than 25% of thru-hike attempts are successful; he quotes the older figure of 10%.

Film adaptation[edit]

In 2005, Robert Redford announced,[1] and later confirmed,[2] that he would star in and produce an adaptation of Bryson's book into a film, and that he would play Bryson himself. He also hoped that his erstwhile co-star and friend, Paul Newman, would team up with him to play the role of Katz, although he jokingly expressed doubt as to whether the health-conscious Newman would consider putting on enough weight to accurately portray the rotund Katz. (Newman, however, retired from acting in May 2007 and died in 2008.)

In February 2007, Chris Columbus, director of Home Alone and the first two Harry Potter films, was reported to have agreed to direct the adaptation.[3] However, in January 2008, the Hollywood Reporter, while noting that the script was delayed due to the Hollywood writers' strike, reported that Barry Levinson, the Academy Award-winning director of Rain Man, was in talks to direct.[2]

Redford has said of the project:

It'll be fun. I don't know when I've read a book that I laughed so loud. Also, it's a chance to take a look at the country... The backdrop is pretty terrific, if you stop to think of all the visuals that are possible as they go along that trail.[4]

As of November 2011, three years after production on a movie adaptation was scheduled to begin, no further news concerning the project has come to light.

February 2012 - It was reported that novelist Richard Russo, during a speech at Union College, confirmed that he was working on the screenplay.

November 2013 - Nick Nolte will costar as Katz, and Larry Charles (of Borat and Bruno) is now attached as Director. The screenplay is being written by Michael Arndt, and shooting is scheduled to begin in March 2014.[5][6] The movie is currently filming as of 4/22/14 at Amicalola Falls State Park, in Dawsonville, Ga. Robert Redford and Nick Nolte and crew are filming on site at The Lodge at Amicalola Falls.

Estimated release date is December, 2014.[7]