Do you feel like you’ve explored all the trails of the Berkshires? Are you looking for a new outdoor destination?
Christy and Jan Butler’s latest guide from Cheshire, “Berkshire Destinations: An Explorer’s Guide to Waterfalls, Boulders, Vistas and Points of Interest of the Berkshire Hills and Western Massachusetts”, might help you discover new sights or hiking trails .
“We have so much world class stuff here in the Berkshires and New England in general. But, we are really good here with the views, the mansions of the golden age and we have some really nice museums,” author and photographer Christy Butler said in a recent phone interview with The Eagle. “I was working on Mount Greylock [State Reservation] and people were asking what to do. People didn’t know where to go. “
And while the internet and many sites lend themselves to helping answer questions of what to do and where to go in the Berkshires, he said there is always an audience for guides.
Butler said he and his wife, Jan, who is his co-author, photographer, editor, navigator, model (for visual scale) and hiking partner, have spent the past two years compiling photographs and information for each of the 159 places listed in the book.
“We spend a lot of time on it. We walk and visit every place, photograph it and mark the GPS coordinates,” he said. “We mainly sell our posters, photos, crafts and books on waterfalls at craft and agricultural fairs, except this year due to COVID-19. This is the first time in 16 years that we have not won’t be at the Cummington Fair. “
Each listing includes a photograph of the destination, the address of the location, the GPS coordinates of the parking lot and location, the accessibility rating (easy walk, easy side of moderate, exhausting, exhausting due to length and / or terrain or difficult), an evaluation of the “WOW” factor on a scale of 1 to 10, a description and road signs. The highlighted destinations are divided into lists by location, either the Berkshires or Western Massachusetts (Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties), then separated into categories: waterfalls, boulders / boulders, hikes and vistas, points of view. ‘interest and statues.
Destinations in the book include several of the alignment towers used to build the Hoosac Tunnel, the memorial to the WWII plane crash in the Peruvian State Forest, the Keystone Arch railway bridges, the bridge flowers in Shelburne Falls and Santerella in Tyringham. The statues highlighted in the book include several statues of Civil War soldiers, the Newsboy statue in Great Barrington, the Sojourner Truth statue in Florence, the pregnant woman II statue by sculptor Lu Stubbs outside Cooley Hospital- Dickinson of Northampton and the Cat and Dog Fountain in Stockbridge.
Butler, who previously co-authored “Erratic Wandering: An Explorer’s Hiking Guide to Astonishing Boulders in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont” in 2018 with Jan Butler, and collaborated with Russell Dun on “Rock Massachusetts: An Explorer’s Guide to Amazing Boulders of Massachusetts ”in 2016 and“ Connecticut Waterfalls: A Guide ”in 2013, recently answered a few of our questions. His answers have been edited for length and clarity. Find more information about butler guides and posters at berkshirephotos.com. Butler’s books are available at local bookstores or on Amazon.
Q. You have written / collaborated on four guidebooks including “Rock Massachusetts”, “Erratic Wanderings” and “Berkshire Destinations”. What is your motivation ? How did you get started?
A. I have been a photographer for many years, working with directories and newspapers, and have published some in magazines. I bought my first 35mm camera from a Texan at Da Nang Air Base in Vietnam. In 1980, I self-published a calendar. the [onset of the] the computer age has reduced the many production costs associated with printing and publishing. In 2002, via Qualprint, Jan and I released our first Berkshire Waterfalls poster, which was followed by several other waterfall posters, which we mainly sell at craft and agricultural fairs.
In 2008, Russell Dunn saw our posters featuring Mount Greylock and contacted me for a friendship and to cover his guide “Berkshire Region Waterfall Guide: Cool Cascades of the Berkshire & Taconic Mountains”, which was followed by a collaboration on “Connecticut Waterfalls,” for Countryman Press-WW Norton.
Russell and I continued, at my suggestion, to do our own publication through Amazon’s Create Space, now Kindle Direct Publishing. However, I suggested we do some boulders and boulders as destinations as no one else was doing such a guide and it would be a great niche. Everyone makes guides on waterfalls, lighthouses and covered bridges. Jan and I then published “Erratic Wandering” and “Berkshire Destinations”, while Russell Dunn published “Boulders Beyond Belief”.
Q.You have diversified into this book, including adding points of interest and cultural institutions as destinations. Was this a natural next step?
A. As Jan and I travel here or across New England, I photograph many experiences, events, rivers, flowers, and historic places. So I have a huge collection of slides or negatives on a wide range of topics, especially here in the Berkshires. After many waterfalls or an avalanche of erratic glaciers, deciding to offer a medley of exploration and hiking destinations in “Berkshire Destinations” allowed me to get the “rocks out of my head” or to “reduce water on the brain,” allowing me to work with a greater scope of human interest and expansion of interests.
Q.How do you start your research? Are there any old guides you are using? The Internet?
A. Many friends and acquaintances provided suggestions on places that might be of interest. From these tips, Google and the web pages provide a wealth of information. With Jan or friends (or sometimes alone) I visit each location to get photos, GPS and see what’s new. Some locations have had a track change, new owner and possibly an assignment.
Q.When did you just hit the road?
A. Prior to retirement, weekends were the main “free” time to explore, along with vacations and holidays. Now, retirement gives me more freedom with less pressure. I completed “Berkshire Destinations” in May. After hemming and hauling, I picked out my next book idea in early June, “A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss”. Keeping busy and satisfying my urge to travel in Sagittarius, loving every expedition, often with WOW surprises rated at 10! Work for me.
Q.Do you have any favorite tour guides?
A. We have friends who produce hiking guides or waterfall books. For example, “500 New England Waterfalls” by Greg Parsons and Kate Watson is an excellent book, probably the best.
Author Lauren Stevens has several good hiking guides on the county of Berkshire.