"Woods Runner" takes place in 1776 and follows a 13-year-old boy named Samuel Smith. Samuel lives in Pennsylvania, but must rescue his parents when British soldiers capture them. With the help of those he meets on the way, he rescues his parents.
Samuel's parents, Olin and Abigail, come from the city. They live with Samuel in a cabin settlement. Since Samuel grew up on the frontier, he's far more comfortable there than his parents are. While hunting, he sees smoke from his settlement. He returns to find the cabins burned to the ground and the bodies of several settlers.
Samuel tracks the attackers and determines that his parents are alive. On his journey, he finds out the attackers' identities: British soldiers, with assistance from the Iroquois Indians. He also learns about the reason for the attacks: the Revolutionary War.
While on the trail, Samuel rescues Annie Clark, an 8-year-old girl whose parents were murdered. He also meets a Scottish spy named Abner McDougal. Abner helps Samuel rescue his parents in New York. Samuel, his parents and Annie go to Philadelphia. A British detachment nearly kill Samuel in the woods, but Americans save him.
The Americans help Samuel and his family get away safely. Samuel then joins a group of riflemen and enters the war.