Hiking the Holy Mountain – Tales of Monks and Miracles on the Trails of Mount Athos, Greece


Source: Olympus Press

“On this amazing path we call life, we’re often compelled to change direction.”
—John McKinney

After writing thirty books about hiking, John McKinney, aka “The Trailmaster,” was compelled by extraordinary events to live through—then write about—an odyssey that took him to a remote monastery on Mt. Athos, Greece, where no woman has set foot for a thousand years. By turns reverent and irreverent, Hiking the Holy Mountain narrates John’s progress and setbacks on the trail and within himself, and a series of miraculous events that took place on—and off—the Holy Mountain.

His friend Spiro joined him on the journey and they were truly the hiking odd couple. Spiro was a tenderfoot, John an expert hiker. Spiro was a devout Greek Orthodox Christian and fluent in Greek, whereas John’s faith was shaky and his Greek was terrible. Spiro believed in the wonder-working powers of the saints and icons, while John was a skeptic who doubted all miracles.

“I was a reluctant pilgrim to say the least,” admits veteran hiking writer John McKinney. “But one thing I’ve learned from all my time on the trail is that on this amazing path we call life, we’re often compelled to change direction.”

As the Los Angeles Times hiking columnist, John had a professional purpose for his trip: to hike around the Holy Mountain and write about Mt. Athos as a hiking destination, a spiritual adventure for outdoor enthusiasts. What he encountered there was a colorful cast of Greek monks and something most unexpected: an epiphany that changed his life, and a miracle that led to the adoption of his son.

Narrative nonfiction at its liveliest, Hiking the Holy Mountain is a powerful one-of-a-kind story of saints and icons, ancient traditions and modern-day faith and family. “What I learned is how hard it is to find—and how easy it is to lose—the trail between heaven and earth,” the author declares.

Hiking the Holy Mountain (ISBN: 978-0-934161-68-8 paperback, $16.95) is available from Amazon, select retailers and For more information about John McKinney’s books or interview requests, visit


John McKinney, aka The Trailmaster, is the author of 30 books about hiking, including The Hiker’s Way and Hiking on the Edge: Dreams, Schemes, and 1600 miles on the California Coastal Trail. A passionate advocate for hiking and our need to reconnect with nature, John lives and writes in Santa Barbara, California.


Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.