HARRISBURG, PA (June 28, 2010) - Historians and interpreters will offer mini-lectures along the Appalachian and other trails from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 10, at various locations in Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Cumberland County, as part of the South Mountain Speakers Series.

The event, entitled, "The Appalachian Trail: Walking from the Past to the Future," is free and open to the public.

"This unique, interactive event will allow participants to hike on a trail while learning about the vision and hard work that went into creating it, as well as the trail's importance as an outdoor recreation asset and a prime attraction for visitors in the South Mountain region," said Allen Dieterich-Ward, an assistant professor of history at Shippensburg University and the chair of the South Mountain Partnership committee on the speaker series.

Six different hikes with varying degrees of difficulty will be offered, accommodating everyone from small children to avid hikers. At sites along each route, historians and interpreters will cover special topics including Native Americans; the Civil War and Underground Railroad; the era of extraction; Camp Michaux; and native plants and animals.

Each route will include a visit to the new Appalachian Trail Museum at the park.

Hiking tours will finish at the Furnace Stack Pavilion near the Appalachian Trail's mid-point, concluding with a multi-media exhibit exploring the present and future of the Appalachian Trail, the allure of the "thru-hike," and a visual tour of opportunities to enjoy the trail in the South Mountain region.

Ice cream cones will be served and participants may watch hikers attempt to eat a half half-gallon of ice cream-a challenge that is the mid-point hallmark of a thru-hike on the "A.T."

Visit appalachiantrail.eventbrite.com for more information about start times, hike locations, and to register.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Cumberland Valley Appalachian Trail Club, and the Appalachian Trail Museum are sponsoring the lectures.

The South Mountain Speakers Series is organized in the spirit of the Michaux Lectures, a series of talks given by Joseph Rothrock as part of his work to restore Pennsylvania's forests during the late 19th century.

In the face of 21st century challenges, the series seeks to create a vision for the future and motivate communities to act by raising awareness of Pennsylvania's long and compelling history of conservation and  placing today's environmental issues in that context.

The next event in the speakers series will be "Feeding the Troops, Nourishing a Nation: The Pennsylvania Bread Basket During the Civil War," on Thursday, Aug. 12 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Historic Round Barn in Biglerville.

To learn more about the speaker series, visit southmountainspeakers.blogspot.com or contact Kim Williams at 717-258-5771.

The series is led by the South Mountain Partnership, which is a unified group of private citizens, businesses, not-for-profit organizations and government representatives in Adams, Cumberland, Franklin and York counties.

The South Mountain Partnership was sparked by DCNR's Conservation Landscape Initiative-an effort to engage communities, local partners, state agencies and funding opportunities to conserve the high-quality natural and cultural resources while enhancing the region's economic viability.

The 400,000-acre South Mountain region is at the northern end of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

For more information about the partnership, visit southmountaincli.blogspot.com or call the Appalachian Trail Conservancy at 717-258-5771.

Media contact: Christina Novak, 717-772-9101