Book review: '50 Hikes in the Berkshire Hills'

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"50 Hikes in the Berkshire Hills," by Lauren R. Stevens is one of those wonderful guides to the outdoors that comes along every so often from a devoted, enthusiastic and expert voice that covers it all, delivering plenty of interesting and valuable information, and providing technical knowledge to make each section a perfect "go to" when considering a hike here in the Berkshires.

It seems that every trail you can think of is listed and each section on the trails includes a nice description of what to expect, how to get there, notes on camping, experiencing the trails. Every trail guide also includes an at-a- glance box telling where the trail is, hiking distance, walking time, vertical gain, and where it is on the map. The maps for each hike are clear, giving an elevation profile and a handy scale to gauge distance. The most remarkable thing about these maps is they are actual topographical maps, creating an excellent visual for what is described in vertical gain numbers. The book also includes an appendix each for Long Distance Hikes, and Berkshire Culture with contact information on museums, cinemas, libraries and cultural venues.

Stevens has written about the Berkshires for decades and hiked all of these trails many times. It is reassuring to know that the detailed information included in this book comes from decades of research on all levels and from personal experience. The foreword to the book includes a lot of inside information on the formation and preservation of Berkshire Trails and makes a good case to stay right here in the Berkshires for outdoor hiking adventure. A section on definitions brings any reader up to speed on terms and usage of the book on wooded trails.

Likewise, a section on "How To Use This Book" will orient the reader to the sections on county trails, key terms, names, and abbreviations, and access from major cities. There is also a section for transportation, and lodging and dining. It's wonderful that there is also a section on safety, listing basic rules, hunting, automobiles, weather, clothing, trail indicators, what is useful in the woods, and first aid. The section on Berkshire History is a fascinating recounting of the natural and social history of the Berkshires from the earliest times and people's relationship with the land. The section on Hikes-at-a-Glance is a spread sheet of all the trails and the basic information you need to know to make a choice.

The book has wonderful color photographs of every location and even if you are not going out on a trail right away, this book is enjoyable reading for the arm-chair hiker, as well.

Colin Harrington is the events manager at The Bookstore and Get Lit Wine Bar in Lenox, Mass. Colin welcomes reader comments at charrington686@gmail.com.

Read it

'50 Hikes in the Berkshire Hills'

By Lauren R. Stevens

Published by: The Countryman Press, 2016

282 Pages


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