It was time for an update.
Durango writer John Peel will introduce the fifth edition of the highly popular guidebook “Hiking Trails of Southwestern Colorado” on Tuesday during a special virtual presentation on Zoom hosted by Maria’s Bookshop.
It is the first update to the book since 2006 and is the second done by Peel.
“It’s been awhile, and it was time,” Peel said. “The first four editions of this book have been so popular – one of Maria’s best-selling books, and other places carry it, too. It has been and still will be the bible of hiking in this part of the world.”
Peel took over the writing of new editions after Paul Pixler wrote the first three, with the first released in 1981. Pixler, who climbed all of Colorado’s 54 fourteeners, died in 2011 at age 90.
“I moved here in 1990, and I’m pretty sure it was the first book I bought when I moved to town. I’m sure others could say that, too,” Peel said. “I was reading back over the new edition today, and there’s still a lot of Paul Pixler in there.”
The new edition, published by West Margin Press, includes 12 new hikes with updated color photos and maps. There are now more than 60 trails and climbs in the book that covers Durango, Silverton, Vallecito and Colorado Trail areas. There are also six fourteeners detailed.
“It’s not focused on backpacking, though some you could make into a backpacking trip,” Peel said. “Really, it’s day hikes and stuff you can drive to from Durango, hike in a day and get back home.”
Peel, who spent 22 years writing for The Durango Herald, said the book caters to savvy veterans of the trail and beginners alike.
“I try to have fun with it,” Peel said. “Hopefully, mine isn’t as dry as some hiking guide books maybe are. I like to keep it light. I think it comes back to working in the newspaper business where it’s part entertainment as well as putting facts in there. But it’s definitely focused on trail descriptions and mileages, making sure everything is accurate and trying the best to not mess people up.”
Peel has continued to take notes since the last edition he worked on in 2006. It was in the summer of 2019 that he set out with the goal of completing a new edition. He spent every bit of free time he had getting out to hike and take notes.
“The work is so fun,” he said. “You don’t make a ton of money doing this, but it is fun to write it up. It’s neat when you see someone in a parking lot looking at the book or when you see someone buy it at the store. That’s when you know that the work matters and is being put to good use.”
The online event with Maria’s Bookshop will be held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. It will include an informative question and answer session with some detailed introduction of the book and it’s newest entries. Signed editions of the book are available at Maria’s.
“I think it’s still a great guide,” Peel said. “Yeah, you can get info online places these days, but it is scattered and you’re not always sure if you can trust the stuff you’re getting online. This is a good, solid bunch of info right there in you hand and you don’t have to search all over to get info you can trust.”