BOILING SPRINGS >> The organization that takes care of the Appalachian Trail has offices in Boiling Springs, Cumberland County, and has a roster of outdoor activities planned for spring through autumn this year.
Boiling Springs has had a triple whammy of involvement with the Appalachian Trail over the decades.
First, the trail itself passes through the area -- and has since the mid-1930s, when the walking trail between Georgia and Maine was completed.
Secondly, it houses the Mid-Atlantic Region offices for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the civilian nonprofit charged with the "care and feeding" of the trail, which is owned by the National Park Service.
Thirdly, Boiling Springs was one of two towns along the AT that helped to launch a kind of partnership with the trail and the ATC.
"The Appalachian Trail Communities program was first launched as a pilot in 2006," said Kelly McGinley. "The first two communities involved were Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania, and Hot Springs, North Carolina."
McGinley is the community outreach and program support administrator for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy's Mid-Atlantic Regional Office, which happens to be in Boiling Springs.
Today, there are 35 AT Community Partners along the 2000-mile-plus length of the Appalachian Trail, including several in Pennsylvania: Boiling Springs, Delaware Water Gap, Duncannon, and the greater Waynesboro area.
Over the past three years, McGinley's organization has been running a roster of outdoor-based activities – called the Third Thursday series -- in the area of the AT for the benefit of people who like to wade into the real world now and then.
Kicking off the this year's Third Thursday events will be "Capturing Spring Photography Hike" at 6 p.m. April 16, at its regional office in Boiling Springs. The free event, led by professional photographers Linda Norman and Crystal Hunt, teaches participants how to capture the beauty of nature on an easy, 1.5-mile hike on portions of the AT Wittlinger Trail.
Appalachian Trail Conservancy's Mid-Atlantic Regional Office is at 4 E. First St. in Boiling Springs. To register for the event, call 258-5771 or visit atcthirdthursdays.eventbrite.com. For a complete list of Third Thursdays events, visit www.appalachiantrail.org/events.
"The events are meant to broaden our reach," said Karen Lutz, an AT official in Boiling Springs. "Each hike has a different theme, and we will get a different audience each time."
The various events run from spring through fall. The remainder are:
• May 21, mountain laurel and native wildflowers hike at Pole Steeple in Pine Grove Furnace State Park: Vicky Nastav, Cumberland Valley A.T. Club (www.cvatclub.org)
• June 18, cardio walk on North Mountain: Carol Bruce & Sherry Julseth, Momentum Fitness (www.momentumfit.com)
• July 16, Power foods for hiking, from Leidigh Road to Alec Kennedy Shelter Spring: Michele Landis, Yoga at Simply Well (www.yogaatsimplywell.com)
• Aug. 20, Yoga class and compass training, Children's Lake in Boiling Springs: Tina Stroh, Just Plain Yoga & Ryan Seltzer, ATC (www.justplainyoga.com)
• Sept. 17, music and a movie, Children's Lake: Wes Griffith, Mike & Mike and American Legacy Movie
• Oct. 15, phenology hike with tree identification and wildlife habitat, in Boiling Springs: Marian Orlousky, ATC (www.appalachiantrail.org)
For more to do, visit www.appalachiantrail.org/events.