HIKER MIKE'S BEST HIKES, by Mike Kirby (Boston Mills), 168 pages, $19.95 paper. Rating: NNN
Unbeknownst to many Torontonians, innumerable paths and trails lace through the city's urban core and expansive suburbs and into the rural hinterlands beyond.
Actor and broadcaster Mike Kirby, aka Hiker Mike, has enthusiastically ferreted out these routes in regular reports for CFRB Radio's Weekend Morning Show. Hiker Mike's Best Hikes: The Megacity And Beyond is a compilation of those radio spots, part trail guide and part tongue-in-cheek urban adventure journal.
Kirby focuses foremost on the fitness aspect of hiking, and except for brief descriptions of scenic views, the book doesn't offer a lot of natural-history detail on the terrain it traverses.
It works more like a Lonely Planet travel guide, with lots of good, specific information on how to reach the trailheads by car or TTC, little-known access points and good spots to park, plus recommendations on the best place to pick up great coffee or Polish ponczki (jam-filled doughnuts) during or after a trek.
Routes are rated according to difficulty, from those that are wheelchair accessible to dense-brush bunny trails. The book, in fact, identifies many little-used and forgotten paths not mentioned in other local and regional guides -- probably its best feature.
Hiker Mike's Best Hikes, however, could have been better adapted to book form. Time- and event-specific intros from the CFRB spots, long-winded radio sign-offs and a lot of repetition from one item to the next should have been edited out. The book's 168 pages could probably be condensed into a pocket-size guide without losing any of the actual information or the gung-ho tone.