By Jane Marshall

When it comes to finding information on hikes, bikes, and walks, there are endless online resources.

  • AllTrails provides accurate GPS paths and amazing ideas for hikes and walks
  • Strava calculates stats and provides a wealth of data
  • PeakFinder shows the names of mountains using cell phone cameras

Technology is amazing!

But there’s also something special about a traditional guidebook. An actual paper book filled with descriptions of places someone we trust has vetted. A guidebook is something we can sit down with near the fireplace.

Cover image of the book Hiking Glacier and Waterton 5th Edition

We crack it open and dream of adventures. It helps us plan and plot. And then, when we are ready, we can throw it in our packs and know that it won’t lose battery life. (It’ll just get a little dusty, wet, and for me, coffee stained by the bottom of my favourite pottery mug).

Confessions of a Ski Bum author Marcus Baranow notes that even though he created an extremely extensive online information platform about backcountry skiing, people told him they’d really like to just buy a printed book. So that’s what he did — he produced a print publication with beautifully details information for backcountry skiers to plan their adventures. Sometimes a book is just right.

To get some good guidebook recommendations, I reached out to Joy McLean, owner of Canmore’s Cafe Books, for her top picks. I’ve divided her suggestions by activity.


Backcountry Skiing

  • Confessions of a Ski Bum Icefields Parkway - $35.00
  • Confessions of a Ski Bum Kicking Horse - $25.00

Backcountry Skiing and Ski Mountaineering

  • Summits & Icefields 1 - $29.95
  • Summits & Icefields 2 - $29.95

Hiking and Walking

Come to Canmore and stop by Cafe Books, an amazing locally owned and operated bookstore. They have a fantastic used books section too! Campers Village also has a fantastic selection of guidebooks curated by their buyer.



My personal faves are by authors Craig and Kathy Copeland:

Book cover for Don’t Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies

Don’t Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies — $49.95

The Rockies are so vast, with so many trails, you need a guidebook that truly guides. Counsels you about each trail. Advises you where to hike, where not to hike, and explains why. Ensures you invest your precious hiking days wisely, for maximum reward. Don’t Waste Your Time does this and more.


Book cover for Where Locals Hike in the Canadian Rockies

Where Locals Hike in the Canadian Rockies — $23.95

A guide to the Premier Trails in Kananaskis Country, near Canmore and Calgary, so you won’t waste time on inferior options. Though less well-known than Banff and Jasper National Parks, the area includes Peter Lougheed and Spray Valley Provincial Parks, which feel just as immense, with peaks, ridges, meadows and lakes that are equally dazzling.


During COVID 19 times, walking, hiking and skiing are some of the best ways to stay safe, sane, and healthy. I hope this roundup kindles inner inspiration. Happy trails!