I have been trail running in Western Massachusetts for over 17 years. During that time I ran the same 5 trails over and over; that is until I got my hands on an amazing book called Trail Running Western Massachusetts by Ben Kimball. This book will be your key to unlock the trail running greatness that can be found everywhere between the Berkshires and the Quabbin Reservoir.
Ben Kimball is a long time trail runner, Western MA native and an all around nice guy. He also runs Northeast Race Photo so if you have run almost any race in Western MA in the past few years then you can thank him for the awesome photos he took. I had a chance to catchup with Ben when he was selling the book at the 7 Sisters Trail Race registration table. He put this book together by running and documenting turn-by-turn directions for each of the described routes; all while battling Lyme disease!
Trail Running Western Massachusetts profiles 51 running routes from all parts of the amazingness that is Western MA. Some routes are strenuous, some are easy and they range between 3 and 18 miles. This means that there is something for everyone in this book as long as you are into trail running.
Kimball organized the book from west to east with numbered chapters for each route. Each chapter includes distance, a subjective difficulty rating, trail style, trail type and even the nearest town and alternate routes. Each route also comes with driving directions, a detailed description of the route and a trail map.
There is even a QR code for each route so you scan the map to your phone. This will also treat you to pictures of each route that will have you itching to get out there and run. In short, this is one heck of a guidebook!
Here at New England Outside we like reading but we like trail running even more so we had to put this book to the test before we could recommend it to you. We ran four of the routes and have never had so much fun on the trails. The North Sugarloaf (#34) chapter opened our eyes to a crowd free single-track roller coaster that we had driven by for years on our way to the more crowded South Sugarloaf mountain.
The Chesterfield Gorge (#23) route treated us to miles of gentle double track that followed stonewalls and the Westfield River.
The book also opened our eyes to Northfield Mountain (#30), which contains a labyrinth of single track, and double track trails that we never ran on before. We also checked out Mount Toby (#33), which combines fire roads and single track for a delightful trail run.
Trail Running Western Massachusetts gave us the info we needed to run each route with confidence even if it was our first time. If you are interested in trail running in Western MA then this book is hands down the best resource you can get. Kimball does a good job of subjectively describing each route’s difficulty level. However this book could be even better if it included the total elevation gain for each route since that is an objective measure of difficulty.
Don’t run the same trails over and over like I did for years. Get yourself a copy of Trail Running Western Massachusetts and find some new adventures!