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In two hours, Main Liners can find themselves in New York City or Washington, D.C., at the Jersey Shore or the Delaware beaches. But few Main Liners find themselves exploring the quieter western regions of Pennsylvania, which in their beautiful subtlety remain elusive, like the perfect destination. With rushing rivers, ambling trails and an abundance of food and drink, the Cumberland Valley is, in many ways, the perfect destination.

Visitors come to the region for many reasons, but it’s the surrounding nature and abundance of outdoor activities that consistently draw people in. The Cumberland Valley has the unique designation of being the midway point along the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail, which runs from Georgia to Maine. While a great deal of the thru trail is strenuous, the Cumberland Valley is lucky to have a relatively flat stretch, giving hikers of all levels the opportunity to hike a small portion of the iconic trail.

From Left: Appalachian Trail Museum; Hikers enjoy the Appalachian Trail

Visitors can become even more acquainted with the trail at the Appalachian Trail Museum where they can learn the stories of past hikers and how the trail was founded. Housed in a two hundred year-old gristmill, it’s a popular stop for thru-hikers to celebrate and grab some ice cream, making it the perfect spot to meet a hiker and get a glimpse into her journey. A newly opened exhibit for young hikers features an interactive and scaled down version of the trail, as well, providing a different perspective.

Cumberland Valley Rail Trail

Beyond the Appalachians, there are many other trails. Advanced hikers can find challenging trails in Pine Grove Furnace State Park, which has great views along the route, while novice and casual hikers can take an easier route along the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail, which is 11 miles of crushed stone and pavement, also ideal for biking or horseback riding.

LeTort Spring

The region is also home to the LeTort Spring, featured in 50 Places to Fly Fish Before You Die. This iconic stream is known for large brown trout that are particularly wily. Big Spring Creek in nearby Newville also provides a more challenging fishing environment. The fifth largest springs in the state, it’s a beloved limestone creek popular among locals. Some fishing equipment is available to rent locally, though most visitors choose to bring their own gear.

Children’s Lake

Some of these spots prove difficult for children, so to compensate for their smaller statures, the Cumberland Valley created the seven-acre Children’s Lake, which has an ambling walking path around the perimeter. The lake is stocked with trout, making it the perfect spot to learn fishing or just bone up. Afterwards, visitors can take a leisurely stroll, feed the ducks and swans, or grab a bite at the nearby café.

Waggoner’s Gap

Those looking to get a little of everything—hiking, fishing and even some swimming—can head to one of the area’s three state parks, King’s Gap Environmental Education Center, Colonel Denning, or Pine Grove Furnace. Each offer unique amenities and activities, with Colonel Denning and Pine Grove Furnace offering lakeside beaches, perfect for a day of lazing on the sand and cooling off in the refreshing spring-fed waters. The mountainous backdrop makes for an idyllic day. While in the woods, visitors can also do a little birding. During the fall months especially, migrating raptors are often spotted. Visitors looking for a more robust experience can head to nearby Waggoner’s Gap Hawk Watch, the second largest hawk migration point in the state, which also offers a magnificent view.

After spending the day outdoors, return to one of the picturesque and charming towns like Carlisle to enjoy great food and drink, as well as shopping in the boutiques. Adults with a taste for beer can even explore some of the region’s breweries, like Market Cross Pub & Brewery, the aptly named Appalachian Brewing Company, or Al’s of Hamden, with dozens of sleek taps, dispensing a variety of beers.

From regional hops to hikes, the Cumberland Valley provides the perfect getaway for families and couples, all just two hours away.

Find more information at VisitCumberlandValley.com

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