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John McKinney

John is available to speak on: Life Lessons from Hiking the Holy Mountain, Getting Back on the Nature Trail, Adoption, Orthodoxy and the Environment



John’s new book, “Hiking the Holy Mountain: Tales of Monks and Miracles on the Trails of Mount Athos, Greece” is the story of his adopted son Daniel and the Greek monk/ iconographer named Father Daniel who foretold his birth, amazing trips back in time and in faith to Mt. Athos, and miraculous events that occurred on—and off—the Holy Mountain.

While the ‘plot’ and colorful cast of Greek monks in “Hiking the Holy Mountain” seem like they came from a movie script, this is very much a true story!

“I was a reluctant pilgrim to say the least,” John admits. “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.”

The monks he met and the ancient trails he hiked on Mt. Athos prompted John to think about—and talk about—hiking in an altogether different and more profound way.

Hiking is by far the most popular outdoors recreation in the U.S., and John is one of the nation’s top hiking experts. John, aka The Trailmaster, is the author of 30 books including “The Hiker’s Way” and “Hiking on the Edge: Dreams, Schemes, and 1600 miles on the California Coastal Trail.” For 18 years, he wrote a weekly hiking column for the Los Angeles Times and has written more than a thousand articles and stories about hiking, plus numerous popular guidebooks, from “Great Walks, New England” to “Hike Southern California.”

John served on the board of the American Hiking Society and as National Hike Leader for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Hike for Discovery Program. He helped organize a symposium on Orthodoxy and Ecology in Santa Barbara in 1997, and has maintained his commitment to the church’s role in protecting the environment ever since.

A passionate advocate for hiking and our need to reconnect with nature, John shares his expertise on radio, TV, online and as a public speaker. He lives and works in Santa Barbara California, where he attends St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church.

 “Take a hike!”

When John McKinney says, “Take a hike!,” people do.

Willingly. With smiles on their faces.

His first-hand knowledge about going from feeling stressed to feeling blessed is validated by cutting-edge scientific research that proves even a short hike in nature is beneficial for mind, body, and soul. Many people—hikers and not—credit John’s talks and books with inspiring them to hit the trail to a better life.

John has been featured or interviewed in major media from the Los Angeles Times to NPR to ABC World News, and appeared on numerous regional talk shows and news programs. Organizations that ask John to share his tips, trails, and inspiring tales include: schools and colleges, churches and retreats, the health and wellness community and conservation and trails organizations.

As John explains it, “I’ve walked a lot of life trails, happy and sad, easy and challenging, and, frankly, more than one path to nowhere. What I’ve learned about faith and footpaths I want to share so that others can make positive and lasting changes in their lives.”


Hiking the Holy Mountain (Keynote, variable length)

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 instead was reconnection to his Greek Orthodox roots, and something most unexpected: an epiphany that changed his life, and a miracle that led to the adoption of his son.

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.

John tells a powerful one-of-a-kind story of saints and icons, ancient traditions and modern-day faith and family. “What I learned is that for some of us it can be very hard to find—and easy to lose—the trail between heaven and earth.”

Getting Back on the Nature Trail (Keynote, adjustable length)

John reveals how time in nature can benefit us in body, mind and spirit, as well as strengthen us in our most important relationships: with God, with friends and family, and with ourselves. A key deliverable is The Trailmaster’s “Ten Essentials for Hikers,” inner qualities and spiritual directions that help us on the trail and off.

Walking is the exercise of choice for millions of North Americans and also a scriptural term used to describe our individual path. John inspires us to “Walk with Gratitude,” “Walk with Good Humor,” and “Walk as Children of Light.”

Venturing deep into the wilderness isn’t the only way to find peace; hiking near home can also bring great mental, physical and spiritual benefits. John shows how nearly every hike has the potential to be a mini-pilgrimage if approached in the right spirit.

Books Available

Ask for special event volume discounts on John McKinney’s books, including “Hiking the Holy Mountain: Revelations on the Trail Between Heaven and Earth.”

Additional Information

The Trailmaster



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