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5 Hikes for History Buffs

Looking for a way to squeeze in a workout and a history lesson on your next getaway? Flex your muscle memory while enjoying the timeless beauty of Cumberland Valley with these five historical hiking trails and spots.

Army Heritage Trail // The Army Heritage Trail is a one-mile, self-guided, interactive outdoor trail loop that is made special by the Huey helicopter and M-46 Patton tank stationed alongside Interstate 81. Hike, bike or walk through the trail to explore the history of the U.S. Army with full-scale exhibits from the French & Indian War era through today. Pay a visit indoors to the Visitor and Education Center and its main gallery exhibit, “The Soldier Experience,” showcasing the history of the U.S. Army from the Spanish-American War to current missions.

Cumberland Valley Rail Trail // Hike, bike or walk along the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail, an 11-mile National Recreational Trail that follows the abandoned Cumberland Valley railroad corridor from Shippensburg to Newville. Be sure to follow the 13 signs along the trail; designed and built by a Dickinson College professor, each sign offers history on the region’s Civil War connections and agricultural history. After, giddy up for horseback riding on the 50 beautiful acres of nearby Winsome Farm. (Birdwatchers keep an eye out for Downy Woodpeckers, Great Horned Owls, Belted Kingfishers and more spectacular specimen!)

LeTort Spring Run Nature Trail // The LeTort Spring Run Nature Trail is perfect for groups of family or friends with its 6-foot-wide crushed stone path. Winding through deciduous trees and lowland marshes, the trail highlights the history of the South Mountain Railroad, an 1854 railroad that served on the Poughkeepsie Bridge Route and discontinued after the international financial crisis that was the Panic of 1873. Don’t miss one of the most popular limestone trout streams in the nation – directly adjacent, the LeTort Spring Run is the perfect spot for fly-fishing, as featured on the first episode of the TV series Fifty Places to Fish Before You Die!

Nature Trail at King’s Gap Environmental Center // Ideal for casual fitness pursuers, the Nature Trail is a quick and easy 0.2-mile loop on level ground. Walkers navigate through the open forest surrounding the education building at Kings Gap Environmental Center, which focuses on natural and cultural interpretation and education with self-guided interpretive trails and guided hikes of the historic area. The center also boasts a 4-mile road that winds through its 2,531 acres to an Italian villa-style stone mansion atop South Mountain. 

Pine Grove Furnace State Park // Hike, bike and camp on the grounds or fish, swim and boat on Laurel Lake. Pine Grove Furnace State Park is the midway point of the Appalachian Trail (which is considered the flattest and easiest portion of the trail) and home to the Appalachian Trail Museum. Kick off your hiking boots and take refuge in the Ironmaster’s Mansion, located in the park. Built in 1815 by Peter Ege, son of one of the first Pine Grove Furnace operators during the American Revolution and recently renovated by the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy, the 28-bed, dormitory-style accommodations make the mansion the perfect spot for an overnight stay. (And check out the original iron furnace, built in 1764!)

Find more information and things to do at VisitCumberlandValley.com.

This content was originally created in partnership with Philadelphia magazine, featured on Phillymag.com in October 2016 here.

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