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WAYNESBORO - Saturday, September 24, the Greater Waynesboro PA Area Appalachian Trail Community is offering a free event for Family Hiking Day at the Old Forge Picnic Area in Michaux State Forest.

Starting at 1 p.m. with activities for children and a hiker preparedness briefing, there will also be a short session on Leave No Trace ethics prior to guided hikes on the Appalachian Trail.

“Family Hiking Day encourages folks to get out in the fresh air to do something together that’s fun, free, and great exercise for all ages. You don’t need expensive equipment but should definitely wear sturdy shoes, and be prepared by dressing in layers, bring plenty of water and have some snacks.  Our second Family Hiking Day event for this area offers a chance to use our wonderful nearby Appalachian Trail for a short afternoon adventure.” said Kathleen Seiler, member of the Appalachian Trail Community Committee, in a press release announcing the event.

Mike Stern, another member of the Appalachian Trail Communit Committee and a safety expert, said, “In a nutshell - have fun together and make some lifelong memories. Make it a part of your family routine, and be sure to be prepared.”

Two guided hike experiences are planned (but limited to less than 20). The first hike to Chimney Rocks begins at 1:30 p.m. for families with older children and more hiking experience. Considered moderate to challenging at times with 1,000-foot change in elevation over 5 miles out and back, it will follow the A.T. north to Tumbling Run shelters, then follow the blue-blaze side trail to the ridge top and view from Chimney Rocks. Descent back to the picnic grounds will follow the A.T. south.

The second hike will depart at 1:45 p.m. aimed for less experienced families and youngsters with only 500-foot elevation rise in the 1.2 miles to Tumbling Run shelters. After visiting the area, return by retracing the A.T. south for a total of 2.4 miles.

Hikers should dress in sturdy footgear, wear layers and be prepared for the weather. Hiking poles are helpful if you use them.

Both hike leaders will stop along various points along the treks to challenge the families to observe and try to ID various colors and changes surrounding the A.T. as fall makes its entrance.

Pre-Registration is encouraged and available for free online at EventBrite.com. Type in “Family Hiking Day” in “Waynesboro, PA” and the event registration page will come up.

Family Hiking Day was created by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) and takes place every year on National Public Lands Day. The trademarked "A.T. Community" program was created by the ATC and is designed to recognize communities that promote and protect the Appalachian Trail.

The Greater Waynesboro PA Area received the distinction on April 26, 2014, making it the third A.T. Community  in Pennsylvania and one of 38 Communities Trail-wide.

For more information on Family Hiking Day, visit appalachiantrail.org/, scroll down to "Upcoming Events" and choose "Family Hiking Day."

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