TAKE A HIKE! The Sierra Club Kid's Guide to Hiking and Backpacking. Lynne Foster. Illustrated by Martha Weston. Sierra Club Books/Little and Brown. 1991. 176 pages.

Eighty-six pages may seem a lot to have children read before going on a hike or backpacking trip, but in my estimation those are vital to an excursion where "a fun time was had by all.""What's fun about slogging up a trail?" Foster asks. A hike could be fear, anxiety, hunger, getting lost. But if the young hiker follows the rules, hiking can be an adventure. The author sets about proving those claims.

Foster begins by reminders of "getting in shape," and that theme is a major thread through the book. It was delightful how she gave pointers on selecting boots, gear and food then suggested trying it out on a trial run in the back yard after a tour around the neighborhood.

Learning to read the maps and weather, follow the ecological reminders of "Take Only Pictures, Leave Only Footprints," "Pack in in, Pack it out," and "Help Keep It Wild." These are simple and sound suggestions that everyone endorses on the trails.

The dangerous blisters, poisonous snakes, biting insects and overexposure to the elements are outlined with cautions given, as are the ways to use outdoor toilets and disposing of wastes.

Probably the favorite part of "Take a Hike!" will be the section on foods and ways to make them edible. "If you've remembered to put your snacks and water where you can reach them, you'll probably start dipping into them soon after breakfast. Before you know it, though, it'll be time for lunch. And you'll be hungry!"

What really makes this small book a treasure is the "What's Along the Trail" about things to do and look for and the 20 pages of reference on hiking trails, groups sponsoring outdoor treks, sources of information and resources for materials and hiking needs.

My favorite? Well, before I pass this book on to a young friend I want to underline an item on the "for fun" packing list, books. These can be field guides of flowers, trees and animals of course, but it may also be a slim paperback copy of "My Side of the Mountain" or a book by Barry Lopez. A book and a sketchbook seems to be a must that could make a summer hike a really memorable event.