The conservancy hopes to get first-timers and experienced hikers out on the trail in celebration of National Public Lands Day through a combination of guided hikes and self-planned adventures.
"We had quite a few first-time hikers (last year)," Angie Sheldon, education and outreach coordinator for the conservancy, said. "People feel comfortable taking this first step."
The conservancy organized the event in response to an increasing amount of research that showed kids were spending more time plugged in to screens and were missing out on the benefits of the outdoors.
"We've seen an increase in obesity," Sheldon said. "Hiking helps fight that. It's also really good mentally for children."
Exposure to nature settings may be effective in reducing symptoms of attention deficit disorders, Sheldon said.
Although the Appalachian Trail does not run through York County, citizens from York traditionally have played a large role in trail stewardship, said Kim Williams, conservancy environmental planner, and locals are encouraged to participate.
The Mid-Atlantic Regional Office of the conservancy, located in Boiling Springs, has organized resources and events that will help York countians access the trail:
·The Adventure packet is a listing of suggested hikes and themes and tips for planning and safety and fun trail activities.
·A complete listing of all guided hikes is available on the conservancy's website, appalachiantrail.org.
·An interactive map, which can be found on the conservancy's website, allows hikers to plan their route by zooming in to regional sections of the trail and locate shelters, parking etc.
A weekend wrap-up celebration is slated for 4 - 6p.m. Sunday at Children's Lake in Boiling Springs.
It will feature family friendly activities and offer an opportunity for hikers to share their stories.
National Public Lands Day
Saturday marks National Public Lands Day, which is the largest, annual single-day volunteer event for public lands.
The first day, held in 1994, featured 700 volunteers working at three sites.
In 2011, more than 170,000 volunteers contributed to projects at 2,067 sites.
Projects typically include removal of invasive plant species, building and maintaining the trails, planting shrubs and trees and removal of trash.
To learn more about the day or to locate a site, visit publiclandsday.org.
More on Family Hiking Day
To locate guided hikes and map hiking routes, visit the Appalachian Trail Conservancy's website, appalachiantrail.org.
To pick up an Adventure Packet or to learn more about local Family Hiking Day events, call the Conservancy's Mid-Atlantic Regional office at 717-258-5771.