Laughingwater Ink

I read, I write, and I explore.

My writing encompasses not only where to hike in amazing open spaces and national parks, but also stories about the creation of these parks and the people who have lived in them and loved them.

These days I also spend a lot of time in a room full of books surrounded by children. A circle has closed in that sense. I started writing when I was in elementary school, so to be an elementary school librarian feels like a homecoming.

As a writer, reader, and wanderer, my life’s work feels like a long walk in a spectacular labyrinth. I’ll keep you posted on what’s around the next bend.

2020 NOBA Winner

2020 National Outdoor Book Award Winner

Outdoor Adventure Guidebooks

Hiking Lassen Volcanic National Park (3rd ed)

My Story

Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, I started writing articles for local newspapers in Marin County’s Ross Valley when I was a teen. I continued to publish while earning a bachelor’s in anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, where I also took journalism and creative writing courses.

In Colorado, I worked as a reporter and editor for a local newspaper. Backcountry skiing, backpacking, mountain biking, and summiting Fourteeners crystalized a love of outdoor adventure that had its genesis in the hills above my hometown of Fairfax, California.

My metamorphosis into a guidebook writer took place at Chockstone Press, then the premier publisher of rock climbing guides. After twin sons Jesse and Cruz were born, I began writing guides to hikes suitable for families, which became the 12 Short Hikes series. When Chockstone moved under the wing of Falcon Publishing, I moved with it, and have since published more than 20 FalconGuides to destinations in California and Colorado. Jesse, Cruz, and their younger brother, Penn, accompanied me on much of my research.

In addition to FalconGuides, I’ve also published books of essays focused on national parks with Lyons Press. These include Historic Yosemite National Park, Historic Denali National Park and Preserve, Death in Mount Rainier National Park, and Search and Rescue Alaska. Taking these deep dives into history, park lore, and SAR have not only broadened my skill set as a writer, but piqued my curiosity. I’ve got a couple of projects in the works that follow this format. You can sample these essays by visiting my blog page.

And though 2020 was a difficult year on many fronts, it had a brilliant highlight: The third edition of Hiking Lassen Volcanic National Park was named the National Outdoor Book Award winner in the Outdoor Adventure Guide category. Lassen is my heart park and the award was validation for me as a writer. That I can express my love of place with my words in a way that reaches people—and moves them—makes me very happy. I’m proud to have done right by the park, and by my craft.

Now based back in California, I continue to write stories and opinion columns for local newspapers, including the Kenwood Press, the Sonoma Index-Tribune, the Sonoma Sun, and the Pulitzer-Prize winning Santa Rosa Press Democrat. I’ve worked as an editor for a number of online investing and life sciences newsletters and magazines, as well as for Globe Pequot Press (now part of Rowman & Littlefield). I’ve become a part-time librarian at Glen Ellen’s Dunbar Elementary School, the oldest continuously operating school in the state. And in my spare time (ha!) I’m pursuing a dream of also becoming a novelist.

My guidebooks are available online through,,, and other online booksellers. The titles are also available at bookshops and outdoor retailers. Happy trails, and happy reading!



In July 2012 lightning ignited a wildfire in the woodlands on the northeast slopes of Reading Peak. The blaze was contained one month later, having scorched more than 28,000 acres, nearly 17,000 of them within the boundaries of Lassen Volcanic National Park. In the wake of the fire, trails in the park’s northern backcountry, including …


A story of humility and a primer on what hikers should always carry in their packs This was not my finest hour. Last month, while hiking with my friend Nick, I slipped on a steep pitch of trail and folded my ankle over onto a rock. The impact fractured the base of my fibula, but …


Tracy Salcedo
Writer / Editor


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