It's here.

The unofficial start of summer is upon us.

After surviving the winter that we just put into the history books, we owe it to ourselves to get outside. Memorial Day weekend is the perfect opportunity to do it.

With beautiful weather on the way, there's plenty to do this weekend. (Don't forget Monday is the first of two fish-for-free days this year). But if I had to recommend the ultimate outing for this three-day weekend, it would be simple. Take a hike. This is a great time to log some miles on the nearby Appalachian Trail.

If you've never had the opportunity to hike the A.T., as frequent hikers call it, you need to make an excuse to check it out. We are lucky to have such a treasure cut right through the county's backyard.

The famous white blazes of the trail stretch for more than 2,000 miles, starting on Georgia's Springer Mountain and heading north to Mount Katahdin in central Maine. Here at home, the A.T. traverses close to 230 miles of Penn's woods and takes hikers to elevations from 300 feet to 2,080 feet.

While no section of the trail cuts through York County, it's never far away. With a quick drive to Cumberland County, you could be hiking in no time. In fact, Boiling Springs is home to a regional field office. That means if you want some in-depth details about the famed trail, all the information you need is right up the road.

But what about a hike that starts right here at home? There is a fun way that you could start your weekend-long hike in York County. Simply head north on the county's Mason-Dixon Trail (look for the blue blazes) and you will run right into the A.T. near Mount Holly Springs.

My favorite local section of the trail involves about an hour in the car, though. It lies almost due west of the county. It's a section of trail nestled into the western edge of Caledonia State Park. With its high, rocky peaks, the hiking in the area is some of the most scenic, yet challenging, in the region.

One of the best things about hiking the A.T. is there is an opportunity for hikers of all levels, whether you're looking for a quick, mile-long outing or if you're embarking on a summer-long through-hike of the entire trail. All it takes is a small amount of gear — whatever you're willing to carry on your back — and a bit of ambition.

It's hard to believe, but summer is here. There will be plenty of time to eat burgers and drink soda. The key for this big weekend is to get outside and hopefully onto the trail. The weather over the next few days will be just about perfect for a hike.

Take advantage of it.

Andy Snyder writes about the outdoors for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sports@yorkdispatch.com.