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See if you can spot all 47 species of Pennsylvania-native birds on the Birds and Blooms Trail. (Franklin County Convention and Visitors Bureau)

The time has finally come for hikers, bikers, and adventurists to stretch their legs or hop on their favorite set of wheels and explore more than just their backyards.

If you’re looking to make your first trip back out into the great wide open memorable, consider Franklin County, Pennsylvania, for your excursion. With a wide range of activities and site-seeing that can be done from a distance, you can satisfy your need to explore without compromising your safety. There are also the added bonuses of Pennsylvania culture, conservation and history.

So, dust off your seat, grab your camera, and don’t forget your hand sanitizer because Franklin County has a trip in mind for every kind of explorer.

Chambersburg Rail-Trail

An easy 1.6-mile trip, the Chambersburg Rail-Trail is the perfect warm-up adventure for folks getting back in touch with the open world. This paved, urban route is ideal for families traveling with antsy, fresh-out-of-online-school kids who would enjoy a cone from the ice cream station located along the way or perhaps a shopping trip at the Southgate Shopping Plaza. Whichever pit stop you make, the Chambersburg Rail-Trail is suitable for pedestrians and bikers who need a quick break from the house to enjoy some fresh air and cold treats.

Shaffer Rock Trail

A part of Michaux State Forest, the Shaffer Rock Trail is just over two miles long, but will leave you breathless when you get back to the parking area. This area’s steep terrain is ideal for adventurers in need of a good outdoor challenge. Shaffer Rock is a popular area for bikers, hikers and even climbers, so when you hit the trail, you may even get to see some pros scaling the side of South Mountain’s edges. Surrounding rock formations make for perfect natural tabletops and seating areas to enjoy lunch and spend a little extra time among Franklin County’s foliage.

Out of the Ore: Birds and Blooms Walking Trail

The Birds and Blooms Walking Trail was founded as a part of the Pennsylvania conservation initiative in an effort to restore the South Mountain’s wildlife after decades of destruction caused by the iron ore industry. With the area now dedicated to supporting the flora and fauna of the region, hikers can venture through Pennsylvania’s maple red oaks and hickories to catch a glimpse at the numerous species returning home. The trail features an overlook from the top of Pine Grove Furnace State Park where visitors can stand among neighboring mountain peaks.


Take a window-down drive through Franklin County's lush, green farmland and beautiful countryside. (lcm1863 (Flickr))

Barn Quilt Trail

Another great adventure with an even greater cause, the Barn Quilt Trail is a tour you can take from the comfort of your car. Created to preserve the many beautiful barns across Franklin County, the trail celebrates both the craft of quilting and the contributions of local agriculture by mounting a painted quilt square on the sides of barns and historic structures across the county. The patterns are individualized to each quilter and may even represent a bit of Franklin County’s history. Save yourself the trip inside an art museum, and instead take a ride around the county to learn how powerful art can be in unpredictable places.

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