Cumberland Valley Appalachian Trail (C/V A/T), Carlisle- Harrisburg

Directions:  The trail is located about 12 miles west of Harrisburg Pa and about 5 miles east of Carlisle. Several highway routes can be taken to access the trail: the trail crosses US-11, and PA-641 between Carlisle and Mechanicsburg and PA-174 at Boiling Springs. Additionally, the trail crosses PA Turn Pike (I-76) and I-81( no access though) as well as several county/township roads at -2 mile intervals. Road crossings are marked with brown and white signs and have shoulder or off road parking at these points. 

Trail Information:   The trail is the Cumberland Valley portion of the world famous Appalachain trail(AT). The C/V section covers about 20 miles crossing the valley southweat to northeast between South Mountain and Blue mountain to the north. The trail is unique and picturesque as it crosses rolling limestone ridges through farm fields and beech/hickory/oak/cherry forests. The trail corridor  is protected U.S. National Park Service land.  The trail is well maintained year round by volunteers of the Cumberland Valley Appalachian Trail Club and administered by the Appalachian Trail Club(ATC)Regional Office in Boiling Springs, PA. The trail is generally hard packed dirt and mowed grass; only a few short sections are rocky. Some stiles must be climbed to get over fences, foot bridges cross streams, and there is a pedestrian bridge over US-11 and over the Condoguient Creek. Beautiful views of the mountains, farms fields and woodland abound in all directions.
The trail passes through cow and horse pastures. deer, pheasant, turkey and other wildlife are plentful to see  in this no hunting area. The A/T is marked with white blazes and is easy to follow. From south to north, water and food are available in Boiling Spring, Goodenow Springs (filter)about 6 miles north at Ridge Road, and at the A/T's Scott Farm barn's hand pump about 10 miles north of Boiling Springs. The trail is about 75% shaded in summer but it is recommended that water be carried by runners. Trail running shoes are not required nor is any special equipment. Be careful to avoid poison ivy, ticks and thorns when venturing off the trail. In the summer, the trail is monitored by an A/T employeed "Ridge Runner", and is frequented by "Thru-hikers going to Maine or Georgia. No campling, fires, unleashed dogs, or bikes are allowed on the trail in the valley. Problems should be reported to the A/T Regional Office in Boiling Springs.   

Miscellaneous Information: This trail is excellent for beginning off road runners or those seeking relaxing and scenic off-road running. The trail should be avoided just after a rain storm due to slippery and sticky mud and likely damage to the trail foot tread.  The best running seasons are in the Spring and Fall. Summer running is best done in the earrly morning or evening. Excellent out and back running can be done from road crossings. Favorite runnings routes are from PA-641 south to Boiling Springs and return- about 10 miles, Boiling Springs to the Scott Farm and return- about 20 miles, and US-11 south to PA-641 and return about 8 miles. Shorter or longer runs can be developed from any road crossing to any others. Since the trail and side berms are mowed or weed wacked often, the trail is very user friendly. Short, rocky sections should be run at very low speeds or walked to avoid falls. Attention should be directed to the immediate trail ahead to avoid tripping. Long, grassy fields offer chances for speed work and hills offer additional challenges. First timers are urged to run with a buddy. Crime is non-existant; however, cars should be locked at trail heads. Boiling Springs offers restaurants for after runnning eats. Lodging is available at bed and breakfasts (B/Bs) in Boiling Springs or at Pheasant Fields B/B just west and north of the A/T crossing on PA 641. In summary, the Cumberland Valley A/T is one of the best easy trail running areas in the nation.
Treat it with respect- practice no trace use- no littering, slit trench for body waste,and look but don't pick the wild flowers. Berries in late June-early July are free for the picking! 
Volunteers are always sought and needed to help maintain the trail. Contact the C/V ATC in Boiling Springs, PA. See you out running the C/V A/T!  

Bob Goodenow