Bio

For as long as I can remember, my passions have remained the same: Reading and writing. The outdoors and nature. Music. And anything pertaining to other countries and cultures.

I’ve been either lucky enough or stubborn enough to somehow put it all together in a  writing career has taken me around the world — and onto the New York Times travel bestsellers list.

I gravitate to stories that make connections between art, nature, and culture;  stories that celebrate travel experiences that are authentic and unexpected.  My stories share my love for wild places, the arts, and my expertise in a variety of adventure activities.  Most importantly, I showcase people, programs, and travel opportunities that are making the world a little saner, healthier, more peaceful… better.

“When memory music turns off, mountain music begins… Water is the melody. High up, the water trickles and drips; lower down, it cascades and roars. Crossing over a creek that drains one of the Three Sisters peaks, I hear the water echoing against a nearby rock, and I wonder if it always echoes. Will this water sing to this rock for all eternity? Will the rock always answer?”

…excerpted from Along the Pacific Crest Trail, by Karen Berger
water and rock

Writing About Our World… 

In addition to adventure travel and music, several other knowledge clusters —  history, environmental issues, cuisine, arts, language, and culture — inform my general travel articles. My topics have ranged from learning Swahili in Zanzibar to reviewing French hotels to preserving a coral reef to visiting iconic music cities.

I’m the author of 16 books: twelve on hiking, three on music, and one on scuba diving. In addition to my  own books, my work has appeared in several collections and anthologies, including Journeys of a Lifetime (National Geographic) and The Appalachian Trail Reader (Oxford University Press).

And just for fun, I blog about subjects that catch my fancy, such as what marketing managers can learn from Beethoven, or how stories can save your life. Indeed, writing these stories led to the blog on this website, which explores the various facets of living a creative life through travel, writing, the outdoors, music, and the arts.

My writing, editing, photography and website work have earned more than 20 awards and finalist honors  from  the Lowell Thomas Awards program, the IndieFab awards program,  the Educational Press Society of America, Banff Mountain Books Competition, the North American Travel Journalists Association, and the Society of American Travel Writers.

… One Step at a Time

For the past 20 years, my books and magazine articles have explored long-distance trails worldwide. I was one of the first women to thru-hike the so-called Triple Crown — the entire Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide national scenic trails. America’s Great Hiking Trails  (Rizzoli International). my book on the American national scenic trails system, was published in 2014.

At ATC headqarters

Signing books and chatting with fellow hikers at Appalachian Trail Conservancy headquarters in Harpers Ferry, WV.

International treks in Canada, France, Spain, England, Scotland, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, Nepal, New Zealand,  Israel, and Iceland, form the backbone of my  latest project. The World’s Great Hiking Trails, which will be published by Rizzoli in 2017.

 

Adventure is a State of Mind

In addition to hiking some 18,000 miles on six continents,  I’m a former outdoor education instructor and guide with worldwide experience in scuba diving, horseback riding, kayaking, climbing, and skiing. I’ve been on several extended expeditions in Africa, Asia, and North America, each lasting between 7 and 17 months. I’ve taught  outdoor skills including horseback riding, kayaking, canoeing, orienteering, survival, skiing, leave-no-trace wilderness ethics, and more.

Both my writing and my outdoor activities reflect my interest in environmental issues and sustainable travel. I was a senior editor at Island Press, a Washington D.C. publisher that works with environmental organizations to develop books focusing on cutting edge environmental issues. I have also  directed a nature studies program and developed and taught classes in various aspects of ecology and animal adaptations. This knowledge is reflected in the subjects I chooses to write about and the deep well of background I brings to my coverage.

Karen Berger Outdoors Pictures

Clockwise: Dry-suit diving in Iceland, Skiing in New England, Cave diving in Mexico (photo by Yvette Cardoza),Hiking the Appalachian Trail, Winter backpacking in Tennessee, Horseback riding in Florida, Ice climbing in Alaska

 

Writing About Music and Culture

I have a  degree in music from Northwestern University, where I studied piano and interned in music journalism. I play and teach classical, jazz, and pop/rock piano.

I am  the author of three Idiot’s Guides on music: The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Piano Chords, the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Teaching Music on Your Own, and the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Piano Exercises (for which I also composed and recorded the musical examples).

sitting in in Mississippi
Sitting in while at a travel writer’s conference in Mississippi

I have written about music and music-related travel for music magazines and general interest publications. Check out my  music website for more about my  m

Growing Above Treeline