Chapter Timeline

A work in progress, beginning with snippets from the chapter's newsletter
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The Western MA Chapter is Founded


The Western Massachusetts (Western MA) Chapter is founded as the Berkshire Chapter to serve the geographic region defined by the four counties that comprise western Massachusetts, namely: Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden. It will change its name to Western MA in 2020.

What Were They Thinking?


The Executive Committee (ExCom) files a motion that membership be limited to equal numbers of each sex. It does not pass.

A Noble View

Noble View Outdoor Center

AMC’s Western MA Chapter purchases Noble View, an historic farmstead built in the 1800s. Located on a pristine mountaintop overlooking Massachusett's Connecticut River Valley, AMC's newest outdoor center features 360 acres of woodlands, trails, and abandoned farm fields to explore.

A Moral Dilemma


The Annual Meeting does not hear from one committee. "Its report would be most interesting, but it was a secret and unofficial committee. I refer, of course, to the newly organized Morals Committee, shrouded in mystery. All I dare say about it is that the slogan was Look out, we'll get you yet!"

On the Summit of Mt. Monadnock

Hikers on the summit of Mt. Monadnock

Berkshire Chapter members relax on the summit of Mt. Monadnock in 1940.

The Army Moves In

Newspaper clipping

One day last fall we received a telephone call from a lieutenant asking if it would be possible to arrange a meeting to discuss the details necessary to get permission for a Signal Corps detachment to camp at Noble View – four days after they'd already taken the gate apart and moved in. After some legal wrangling, we understood that the U.S. was to pay us a rental fee of $1, which granted them complete use of the place for an indefinite stay.

Malcolm B. Ross Memorial Forest

Dedication of the Malcolm B. Ross Memorial Forest

Dedication of the Malcolm B. Ross Memorial Forest takes place, with appropriate ceremonies, at Noble View. Ross, who died in 1955, was an active member of the Western MA Chapter for nearly twenty-five years, serving as Chapter Chair and Chair of the Noble View Committee. View map.

Ross loved the hills and woodlands at Noble View, and many times expressed the hope that additional land could be purchased to protect its unspoiled beauty. Upon his death a committee was appointed to work toward a suitable memorial, and in 1958 the chapter was able to acquire 30 acres of woodland north of the Noble View farmhouse in his name.

The Swinging Sixties

Two people look over a map

Porter Dickinson was one of the original Berkshire Chapter members from 1929. Edith Libby was Chapter Chair from 1963-1964. Love the hats!

Western MA Takes Charge


The A.T. Committee of the Berkshire Chapter is formed at the behest of the Appalachian Trail Conference (now the Appalachian Trail Conservancy) to consolidate the efforts of three active maintaining groups into one entity. A Memorandum of Understanding designating the A.T. Committee as the entity responsible for Appalachian Trail (A.T.) management on both state and National Park Service lands in the Commonwealth will be signed in 2004.

Trail Maintenance in the 80s

Bob Brown repairs a broken trail sign

Bob Brown (AMC Berkshire Chapter) repairs a broken trail sign along the A.T. in Great Barrington, MA.

Tuesday Hikers Begin Their Streak

Hikers pose for a selfie

The celebrated Tuesday Hikers begin hiking on, well – Tuesdays. Every Tuesday. All year 'round. So, if you're out and about on a Tuesday, you may find them – hiking, skiing, or snowshoeing on a trail somewhere in western Massachusetts. Feel free to join them – I hear they're a friendly bunch!

Newcomers Welcome!


Seasonal activities include rock climbing, backpacking, cross-country skiing and ski mountaineering, bicycling and nature/flower walks. Family activities encompass hiking, camping, canoeing and bicycling.

The A.T. Committee manages and maintains over 90 miles of the A.T. and various shelters in Massachusetts. The Trails Committee is responsible for the Metacomet-Monadnock (M-M) trail in Massachusetts. The Noble View Committee is accountable for maintaining and improving the property at Noble View, organizing work days throughout the year, and sponsoring Wednesday night picnics in July and August.

ALL Our Outings Are Social!

Website covery page

Thom Pollard, Mountaineer and Cinematographer Extraordinaire is this year's Annual Business Meeting's guest speaker.

A Year of Rebuilding

2003 Berkshire Exchange cover image

Last year's commitment to bring more young members – the leaders of tomorrow – into the chapter is fulfilled with the formation of a Young Members Committee. Noble View embarks on a re-building program, with a bit of rock blasting at Double Cottage. The chapter website is redesigned.

The Annual Meeting kicks off with a morning hike on the Mohican-Mohawk Trail followed by an afternoon trek to Mt. Lincoln. AMC author Stephen Gorman rounds out the Annual Meeting with a presentation of Northeastern Wilds: Journeys of Discovery in the Northern Forest. Bruce Scofield publishes the 3rd edition of Hiking the Pioneer Valley, a popular guide to hiking in western Massachusetts.

First Ascent

Hikers pause for a photo at the top of Poverty Mountain

Elated hikers make the first known AMC ascent of Poverty Mountain, elevation 278 ft. A momentous feat! From left to right: Robert Church, Jeannie Jones, Chris Lenox, Jack Doyle, Julie Bermant, Dan Harrington, Rob Robertson.

75 Years of Volunteerism

2004 Berkshire Exchange cover image

The membership votes to defeat a referendum designed to eliminate Young Member committees. The first Annual Volunteer and Leader Appreciation banquet is held.

The A.T. Committee sponsors different hikes on all sections of the A.T. on the same day – 14 in all. There's an "AT Experience" for every hiker! Age doesn't matter – unless you're a cheese! The diverse members of the Tuesday Hikers celebrate 5 years of adventurous activities with an anniversay trek through Chesterfield Gorge. Bruce Genereaux, author of Beyond the Comfort Zone: Confessions of an Extreme Sports Junkie, is this year's keynote speaker. Every sports enthusiast knows bandanas make great fashion statements – as sweat wipers, slings, goodie-holders, mosquito swatters, and tourniquets. And this banadanamap can help you find your way on the Connecticut River! Don’t leave home without one.

Another Year in Paradise

2005 Berkshire Exchange cover image

In a groundbreaking move, the AMC Boston Chapter awards Noble View a $75,000 grant for Phase 2 construction in a bid to form a closer alliance with the Club as a whole. The chapter's Trails Committee builds a new shelter on the M-M Trail and publishes the eagerly-awaited 10th edition of the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail Guide. The Mountaineering Committee rocks on.

Nine Northeast and mid-Atlantic states develop a regional strategy to reduce emissions of CO2 from power plants. The Appalachian Trail Conference changes its name to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy to reflect shifts in the Conference's role in managing the Trail. The Tuesday Hikers visit Canterbury Farm Ski-Touring Center, celebrate hiker accomplishments (one completes the A.T., another conqueres all 67 4,000-footers), and mark 5 years as a group with a trek to Chesterfield Gorge. 36 people attend the anniversary hike – a new record!

AMC Berkshire Wants You!

2006 Berkshire Exchange cover image

One of our main goals has been, and is, to welcome new members and encourage participatation in chapter activities. Renovations at Double Cottage are completed and the cottage is reopened to great fanfare. The bathhouse is up next, so as to enable long-term lodging.

Cosmo Catalano receives the Volunteer Leadership Award at AMC's 2006 Summit. The "Hike from Hell" Mentoring Series affords protective, new, and experienced leaders the opportunity to take a nice walk in the woods, participate in role playing and incident/accident scene management scenarios, make new friends, and have a boatload (trail-load?) of fun!

Today's Children: Tomorrow's AMC

2007 Berkshire Exchange cover image

Get 'em hooked while they’re young! What could a 5, 10, or 15-year old AMC member become in a decade or two? Berkshire Chapter Family Programs begins running with plans to host affordable, family-friendly programs that build teamwork, communication, and skills. AMC staff members and chapter leaders work together to jumpstart Vision 2015.

First things first! One of AMC's most important goals is to preserve open space, or we'll run out of undeveloped places to wander. $472,500 is awarded to the Town of Russell for the purchase of a conservation restriction at Noble View. World class mountaineer and expedition leader Gary Pfisterer is this year's Potluck Dinner guest and will speak on his expedition to K2.

An Enthusiastic – and Very Active – Chapter

2008 Berkshire Exchange cover image

Since 2005, 185 miles of trails have been newly adopted by AMC members. Every position on the ExCom is filled, for the first time in six years. The M-M Trail in western MA is set to become one of the three main segments constituting a proposed 220-mile New England National Scenic Trail (NET).

It's all about the bathhouse, baby! Funds are flowing and we're looking for help as we pour the floor slab, perform rough carpentry, frame and sheath the walls and roof, nail shingles, side the building, install doors and windows, finish interior walls, and then paint everything that doesn’t move. Dona Burdick, longtime Berkshire chapter member, receives the 2007 Warren Hart Award at the AMC Annual Meeting. The Spring Leader Training weekend takes place at Noble View with 23 trainees – a new record. Craig Brandon, author of Monadnock: More than a Mountain is this year's Annual Big Berkshire Bash speaker. The chapter maintains a membership base of nearly 3,000.

80 Years

2009 Berkshire Exchange cover image

The chapter celebrates 80 years. The NET is designated. The Berkshire Chapter hosts AMC's 2009 Fall Gathering. The glacial soils at Noble View are, in a word, terrible. We are indeed going with composting toilets. The Circuit Trail is cleared of obstacles and, with the addition of some white stuff, is ready for skiing and snowshoeing.

Noble View is approved for a $37,000 rebate from Massachusetts Technology Collaborative Renewable Energy Trust's Commonwealth Solar Program for the installation of photoelectric solar panels on the bathhouse roof. Come out, give back, have fun! The rewards for involvement in the Berkshire Chapter and at Noble View are great: the fun of meeting new friends with diverse backgrounds and skills, the satisfaction of working effectively together toward a common goal, and the pleasure that comes from having done something for others. Cynthia Barstow, author of The Eco-Foods Guide: What's Good for the Earth is Good for You is this year's Annual Potluck Dinner speaker. More than 100 chapter members attend.

Noble View Goes Green – and Online

2010 Berkshire website

Find us, like us, and post on our new Facebook page! Work on the bathhouse is progressing very rapidly now. Imagine! Washing dishes at a real dishwashing station with actual running water – no more three-bin dishwashing! And taking a hot shower at the end of a sweaty day – what joy! And, even better, flush toilets – no more outhouses! Now this is living large, indeed!

A Solid Start on New Energy

2011 Berkshire Exchange cover image

The year begins with a new core ExCom, following the retirement of several long-time, key contributors. The Noble View bathhouse – featuring "fragrance-free" Clivus flush toilets – debuts! Lodging is momentarily discounted to celebrate. The chapter's Youth Program takes off.

The Tuesday Hikers complete the A.T. in Massachusetts. This year's special guest at the annual meeting is Ron "Pathfinder" Strickland, trailblazer, author, and conservationist. Ron is one of only two living founders of national scenic trails.

For Lack of a Volunteer

2012 Berkshire Exchange cover image

Several positions on the ExCom are open. We'll also create new ones to suit! 0.57% is that portion of the state budget that goes to all environmental programs and agencies in the Commonweath. What can you do? Get active! Support additional funding and march on the State House in April.

The first Friend to the AMC award is conferred upon retiring Congressman John Olver. This year's Annual Meeting presentation is by Wildlife Encounters®, whose mission is to connect children and adults with animals and nature while demonstrating and inspiring responsible stewardship of our planets’ global biodiversity.

New Opportunities

2013 Berkshire Exchange cover image

Volunteer Ridge Runners launch in an effort to put more "eyes and ears" on the A.T. The runners are expected to engage with hikers and teach appropriate backcountry practices with an emphasis on Leave No Trace principals. 170 volunteers contribute ~8,500 hours of trail work with the A.T. Committee.

Experiential programs on offer include Earthwork Survival School's workshops on sustainability and AMC's Mountain Leadership School for Day Hike Leaders (outdoor classes that teach participants to lead high quality, safety-focused excursions with minimal impact on the backcountry). Life begins after winter. We walk with Tom Tyning, professional naturalist and Professor of Environmental Science at Berkshire Community College, to visit Noble View’s vernal pools. Nick Shaw, an Environmental Science instructor in Amherst, presents On Top of New England: A Portrait of the Hills at the annual potluck dinner. Sue Morse from Keeping Track presents award-winning photos of New England's past and present focal species, such as bobcat, moose, black bear, mink, and cougar, at this year's Berkshire Bash.

Volunteers Needed

2014 Berkshire Exchange cover image

Did you know that the Berkshire Chapter has gear available to borrow for AMC trips? Veterans from Warrior Expeditions pause to rest and meet the public at Noble View, 19 weeks into a thru hike on the A.T. Veterans participating in the "Walk Off the War" program stay for free, courtesy of the Noble View Committee and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6645.

Many new activities abound this year, but we continue to struggle with a lack of people in key positions. The Berkshire Exchange could go the way of other chapters by offering an e-version. Russ Cohen, a Rivers Advocate with the Massachusetts DER's Riverways Program, presents Trees, Paddlers, and Wildlife – Ecology of Out Waterways at this year’s Annual Potluck Dinner.

Stretched Thin


In the absence of a Chapter Chair, the ExCom adopts a rotating Chair policy with four members of the ExCom each serving three months. 170 volunteers contribute ~6,300 hours of trail work with the A.T. Committee. Overnight stays at Upper Goose Cabin exceed 2,300 – a new record.

The chapter approves a change of name for the Trails Committee. Now known as the New England Trail Committee, this change reflects the group's emphasis on the NET rather than any and all trails in the region. Tom Wessels, author of Reading the Forested Landscape is this year’s Berkshire Bash presenter.

Reflections in the Wilderness


The chapter loses Pat Fletcher, our long-time Trails Chair, and Gary Forish, the driving force behind the strategic planning, growth, and success of the Noble View Outdoor Center. Read more about them both. Things I miss in Massachusetts: kayaking and camping at Tully Lake. Swimming off an island or sand bar to cool off. Biking on rail trails. Hiking!

There's trouble down by the brook! Just when you think this is the year we don't have to patch up the Hubbard Brook Boardwalk .... Activities on offer this year include 110 hike, backpack and snowshoe trips; 91 opportunities for A.T. and NET work; 66 mountaineering climbs; 16 events for young members; 15 paddling adventures; 6 family programs; and several training workshops (Leadership, Wilderness First Aid, Hiking, and Backpacking). Six committee chairs remain vacant. Numerous scholarships are awarded for training courses, including Wilderness First Responder and Mountaineering School. We ask that all Berkshire Chapter members consider receiving future editions of The Berkshire Exchange by email to save the environment.

Lots Going On!

2017 Berkshire Exchange cover image

Cycling is added to chapter activities with the advent of a Bicycling Committee. A new primitive campsite is financed on the Connecticut River in Northampton, MA. The Outdoor Festival returns! Activities on offer this year include 104 hike, backpack and snowshoe trips; 6,000 hours of A.T. and NET trail work; 61 mountaineering climbs; 46 conservation outings; 13+ events for young members; 3 paddling adventures; 3 family programs; 2 cycling rides; several training workshops; and a few potlucks.

2017 goals: (1) hold more trainings to train more trainers and (2) fill open positions and plan for member successions. Dalton, MA is desginated an Appalachian Trail Community. The Berkshire Exchange moves online. Ten things you can do about climate change: (1) watch Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie "Before the Flood", (2) investigate solar for your home, (3) join the Green Electricity Consumer Alliance (4) eliminate or reduce beef from your diet, (5) avoid packaged or prepared foods that contain palm oil, (6) drive less, (7) choose an electric or hybrid car for your next vehicle, (8) call or meet with your elected officials, (9) take on environmental issues, and (10) talk about problems and solutions.

Expanding Opportunities


The chapter makes a concerted effort to expand programmatic and training offerings. The Outings (now Hiking) Committee leads 98 trips, of which 52 are Tuesday hikes. 52 individuals are listed as leaders, with a subset of 25 leaders in Tuesday Hikers. The 2018 MVP Hike Leader is Diane Jones. The National Trails System Act turns 50.

Over 150 people attend the Third Annual Outdoor Festival at Noble View. 220 volunteers contribute ~10,000 hours of trail work with the A.T. Committee. Dan Szczensy, hiker and writer, talks about Mt. Washington at this year’s Berkshire Bash.

A Busy 12 Months


The chapter runs 250+ activities. Active trip leaders number 74. Ten "superstar" leaders lead a combined 168 activities. Noble View Outdoor Center begins transitioning from an entirely volunteer-operated facility to a staff-managed enterprise. The Young Members change their name to 20s/30s. The number of 20s/30s trip leaders increases by 66%; trip listings are up 30%.

Current conservation initiatives include (1) reauthorization and appropriations for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, (2) use of fields and forests for solar power installations, (3) logging on state-owned lands, and (4) a proposed I-90 interchange in the southern Berkshires. The A.T. Committee publishes an update of the Local Management Plan for the A.T. in Massachusetts after a long, detailed, and more than-occasionally heroic effort from Jim Pelletier. In the absence of volunteers, the Berkshire Exchange is not produced. Anne O'Regan gives a multimedia presentation of her thru-hike on the Pacific Coast Trail at the Berkshire Bash.

The Year of the Pandemic


The chapter adopts a new name – Western Massachusetts – to better represent the entire region we serve. The ExCom makes a substantial financial contribution to the Western Massachusetts Climbing Coalition to help build and maintain the necessary climbing infrastructure at Hanging Mountain. New initiatives and programs are undertaken: the Justice, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (JDEI) Committee is formed and the Paddling Committee is rebuilt.

Until mid-March, the chapter operates in normal, mostly quiescent mode with activities limited to winter hikes, ski and snowshoe trips. Then everything goes (metaphorically) south, with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. All activities are halted and trails/facilities are closed. Chapter activities and programs during the second half of the year remain constrained. The Training and Education Committee commences online operations.

Bouncing Back in Style

Whitewater kayakers running rapids

The chapter offers 280 trips, up from 85 in 2020. Member and membership numbers increase substantially over 2020, standing at 3,052 members (up 9.4%) and 1,876 memberships (up 10.3%). The first Fallfest event is held at Noble View. Activities include volunteer-led hikes, demonstrations, information sessions, music, and a BBQ lunch.

With the arrival of safe and effective COVID vaccines, reductions in case counts, and increased vaccination rates, AMC moves to Phase 3 of its reopening plan. It is now possible to lead outdoor activities with larger groups and with less onerous disease-prevention protocols. Social media activity increases dramatically with the opening of an Instagram account. Family Outings, in collaboration with Hilltown Family Center, creates a StoryWalk® Trail at Noble View. Seven books are shared with local children. Bicycling expands their trips to accommodate beginners, offering three "Intro to Road Cycling" activities.

Branching Out


The chapter organizes 230+ activities, made possible by the collective efforts of 50+ volunteer leaders. The first Spring Festival is held. Two "Member At Large" positions are added to the ExCom. These are intended to help diversify the top level of chapter leadership, enable selected chapter members to learn more about the committee’s work of the ExCom, aid on voting matters, and identify new ways to contribute to the life of the chapter.

26 different leaders lead 72 hikes. David Wells and Diane Jones offer six adventures each to top the list of most hikes posted by a single leader. The Membership Committee staffs tables at four community events, including two farmer's markets. The AMC-NET signs a trail license agreement with MassWildlife containing seasonal maintenance guidelines for properties owned by MassWildlife and bisected by the NET. JDEI sponsores three webinars: (1) Hiking while Black: The Good, the Bad, & the Weird, (2) Worldwide Outdoor Adventure and Equity, and (3) All Out Adventures.

A New Year


A new, custom website debuts in February. The Berkshire Exchange – begun in the 1980s but dormant since the mid-2010s – is resurrected by the Communications Committee as the Western MA Exchange, an online, evergreen newsletter. A.T. Committee members perform 5,000+ volunteer hours on A.T. administration, training, trail maintenance, corridor monitoring/maintenance, and cultural and natural resources; 72 projects are completed; and 3 new B-level NPS sawyers are added to the mix.

The Bicycling Committee completes 22 bike rides in the Connecticut River Valley and the Berkshires and participates in Bay State Bike Month for the first time. Communications publishes four new initiatives in collaboration with committee members: Pit Privy Replacements, Invasive Species Removal, Sustainability in the Tyringham Valley, and Natural & Cultural Resources Along the Appalachian Trail. The Conservation committee has one of its busiest years yet, monitoring environmental programs and agencies in MA, participating in invasive species and trash removals, and holding webinars. Family Outings oversees 9 seasonal self-guided StoryWalks® at Noble View. AMC declares DEI's speaker series an important contribution to the DEI mission. The Hiking Committee offers 69 hikes and 25 unique leaders oversee these trips. Mountaineering develops and presents a new Anchors Class. 98 miles of the NET are maintained by volunteer adopters in MA over 18 sections; a new moldering privy is constructed at the Richardson-Zlogar Cabin. Paddle with a purpose! The Paddling Committee harvests invasive water chestnut from the Chicopee River.


The Berkshire Exchange (2003-2017).
AMC Western MA Chapter Annual Reports (2011-2022).
Background photo by Simon Rizzi on Pexels.
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