Saturday, Sept. 24th is National Family Hiking Day. As part of the celebration, the Duncannon Outdoor Club is sponsoring a hike up to Hawk Rock and back for a total of two miles. While ascending the 700 ft. elevation, answer funny riddles that are posted along the way. Families are urged to attend this easy paced hike at one’s own level. Children are urged to attend. Afraid the little ones cannot make it to the top? No problem, take as many breaks as needed. If you feel it’s too hard a climb, turn around, no pressure. The goal is to get out as a family in the great outdoors! Meet at 9:00 am. at the Duncannon Family Health Center. Call Deb at 717-395-2462 or email email@example.com to register.
On Sat., Sept. 17th the Duncannon Outdoor Club (DOC) will go on a night hike up Hawk Rock. Hike in and out for a total of two miles over moderate to strenuous terrain at an average pace. At the top take in the view of the lights of Duncannon by the Juniata and Susquehanna Rivers. We will be learning about the elusive creature the porcupine. Meet at 7:00 pm. at the AT trailhead to Hawk Rock. Bring flashlights or headlamps. Call Patrick Walsh at 716-908-3676 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
On Thursday, August 4th, 2016, the Duncannon Youth Group teamed up with the Duncannon Appalachian Trail Community to hike the Appalachian Trail up to Hawk Rock and then return back to the recycling center via the Eagles Edge Trail. It was a great opportunity for the kids to learn about the AT and the beautiful outdoor environment surrounding them.
We started at the Duncannon recycling center where the DATC gave out free backpacks to the kids and provided magic markers so they could add some color and infuse their packs with their own personal style. They also received complementary trail mix and a DATC pamphlet (because every young kid loves free promotional literature, right?).
After we got everything and everybody organized, we took a “before” photo and headed up the side of Cove Mountain. The DYG leader, Tonya Nace, created a list of scavenger hunt items for the kids to find as they hiked along the trail and they had a lot of fun spotting, and even catching, some of the listed creatures. Taking a couple minutes to point out millipedes or what poison ivy looked like gave us all a chance to catch our breath as we climbed the mile-long ascent to the top. I was really impressed that we made it all of the way up to Hawk Rock in about 50 minutes. That’s pretty amazing for a group of 8 to 12 year old youngsters.
The view from Hawk Rock was great on this clear and relatively cool day. Everyone took turns pointing out the various landmarks that they could spot: Mutzabaugh’s, Cooper Field, the cemetery, The Doyle, the rivers and creeks, the Clarks Ferry Bridge, the Boy Scout’s goose pond, their home or their friend’s and relative’s homes, the railroad tracks, Maguires Ford, and some even recognized Haldeman Island. It was nice to see them gain a new perspective of their distant little hometown.
After taking in all of the sights at Hawk Rock, we ventured west along the ridge of Cove Mountain on the lesser-known Eagles Edge Trail to another magnificent view. The Eagles Edge Overlook is closer to the river and offers another frame of reference for the children’s little hometown of Duncannon and its surrounding area. We all took turns looking out beyond the Susquehanna River toward the outlying hills and valleys. Even the girl who said she was afraid of heights came out on the rock to enjoy the view. Duncannon truly is fortunate to have some of the most spectacular natural resources in the central Pennsylvania region.
Once we all had a chance to enjoy the Eagles Edge Overlook, we regrouped and headed down the steep and rocky Eagles Edge Trail. We took our time and made it down the mountain without incident despite one of our younger hiker’s reputation for being a little less than sure-footed. Once we reached the Appalachian Trail near the bottom of the mountain, we stopped to inspect the pile of rocks (called a “cairn”) marking the point where the two trails meet. Some of the kids even balanced a rock or two on top of the pile so the cairn would be more prominent and noticeable to the hikers who regularly pass it by.
We then took a left turn onto the AT and headed back to the recycling center parking lot so the kid’s parents could collect them and take them back to their air conditioners, televisions and video games. Even though there was an occasional complaint or grumble during the excursion, I think the kids really enjoyed spending some time outside with their friends and experiencing nature and their hometown from a different point of view. And I have to admit that even I had a little bit of fun hanging out with a bunch of kids. Thanks CJ, Kylie, Landon, Liam, Lindsey, Molly, Tonya, and Wyatt; I had a good time.
If you ever get a chance to help out with the Duncannon Youth Group, I suggest you take the opportunity to do so. They’re a great group of kids with a lot of potential.
On Sat., Aug. 20th the Duncannon Outdoor Club (DOC) will hike from Scotts Farm to Sherwood Drive and back for a total of 2 miles on easy terrain at an average pace. We will learn how to identify poison sumac and the three forms of poison ivy. Meet at the Duncannon Family Health Center at 9:00 am. or alternately at Scotts Farm at 9:30 am. Call Deb at 717-395-2462 or email email@example.com to register.
On Sat., July 16th the Duncannon Outdoor Club (DOC) will hike two, 1 mile hikes at Big Spring State Park in Blain. Witness the dying giant Hemlocks in the Designated Natural Hemlock Area and then hike to an unfinished railroad tunnel. Both hikes are average paced over moderate to easy terrain. Learn about the Wooly Adelgid and how it is endangering out state tree, the Hemlock. Pack a lunch and bring water. Meet at the Duncannon Family Health Center at 9:00 am. to carpool. Please pay drivers 10 cents per mile for gas (80 miles total). Call Deb at 395-2462 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
I’m alive and doin’ fine
Some of the hiking clubs participating in our 2016 Duncannon Appalachian Trail Festival will be leading their own hikes during the morning of the festival and they encourage you to join their clubs to experience hiking with their fellow club members. In addition to the private club hikes, the following local Duncannon hikes are open to the public until all available spaces are filled:
- Easy – 7:45 to 11:00 – Haldeman Island: In cooperation with the PA Game Commission, this is a leisurely 2.5 mile hike touring the abundant wildlife of Haldeman Island. Located near the confluence of the Susquehanna and Juniata rivers, access to Haldeman Island is usually restricted to provide sanctuary for a wide variety of native Pennsylvania birds, including the iconic Bald Eagle. Sign up early for this rare chance to enjoy an excellent hike lead by the extremely knowledgeable and informative retired PA Game Commission Land Management Group Supervisor, Scott Bills. This hike is limited to 20 people. Please contact DATC (email@example.com) to register. Where to park
- Difficult – 7:30 to 1:00 – Hawk Rock & Duncannon Tower Loop – Sponsored by the Day Hikers of Central PA, this is a brisk paced 11 mile hike over strenuous terrain with a 700 foot climb in the first mile. We will start and finish the hike at Tubby’s Nightclub and hike on the AT to Hawk Rock. Then we will go down a steep descent and visit the ruins of a lumber mill in the Duncannon Watershed that features a magnificent 50-foot high stone and brick tower (“The Stack”) that is still standing. Hiking poles will be helpful. You must contact the hike leader (firstname.lastname@example.org) at least two days before this hike to register. Where to park.
Please consider joining these hiking clubs that will be at the festival:
- Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association – Represents the AT long distance hiking community; helps AT Trail clubs; provides education about the AT, and serves as a focus for AT hiker camaraderie.
- Appalachian Trail Conservancy – Preserves and manages the Appalachian Trail, ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come.
- Duncannon Outdoor Club – Non-profit volunteer organization providing monthly educational outdoor activities to all ages.
- Keystone Trails Association – Dedicated to providing, preserving, protecting and promoting recreational hiking trails and hiking opportunities in Pennsylvania.
- Mountain Club of Maryland – Hiking and trail maintaining club.
- Susquehanna Appalachian Trail Club – One of thirty-one groups maintaining the Appalachian Trail, organized to provide the opportunity to enjoy and learn about nature through outdoor recreational activities.
- York Hiking Club – Non-profit organization maintaining sections of the Appalachian Trail & the Mason-Dixon Trail System, and also offers hikes open to the community.
The Duncannon Appalachian Trail Community recently rejoined the Keystone Trails Association (KTA) which was founded in 1956 to protect and promote all of Pennsylvania‘s hiking trails. With the help of hiking groups and their members, KTA builds and preserves trails and also interacts with state agencies and the legislature to maintain a vocal presence in Harrisburg and stand up for the interests and concerns of hikers.
KTA organizes numerous events in Pennsylvania to encourage people to appreciate and enjoy nature and our woods. KTA members and guests recently spent the weekend in Wellsboro for the spring hiking event and they were out on the trails despite record low temperature and 3 inches of snow. Upcoming activities are:
- 4/26-7: Boundary Work on the AT
- 5/13-15: Trek The Tiadaghton hiking weekend at Little Pine State Park
- 6/5-9: Allegheny Front Trail Slackpack
- 7/29-31: Prowl the Sproul hike weekend
- 9/23-25: Quehanna Elk Quest.
There are many planned weeks and weekends to work on the trails. You can learn more about KTA on the KTA website, the KTA Facebook page or by visiting the KTA office located at 46 E. Main St in Mechanicsburg. Stop by to say hello and join the umbrella group that represents all of the hikers in Pennsylvania.
On March 12th the Duncannon Outdoor Club went to the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area to witness the migrating Tundra Swans and Snow Geese. Middle Creek Is an important way station providing food and rest for waterfowl flying to northern breeding sites. The warmer weather triggered an earlier migration, so we were lucky to see thousands of Snow Geese. The Tundra Swans were visible only through binoculars, since they had settled down far across the lake.
After taking pictures and observing the birds and the many people observing them, we headed to the Visitor’s Center to begin our hike along a series of trails. We started at the Conservation Trail to Spicebush Trail, up Valley View Trail, down Horseshoe Trail, to Middle Creek Trail, up Elders Run Trail, back to Conservation Trail to the Visitor’s Center for a total of six plus miles. The two climbs required some effort, but lunch after the first climb re-energized us for further challenges.
We could not believe that horses could traverse down the section of Horseshoe Trail which was nothing more than a narrow, steep, deep ditch down the mountain. Horseshoe tracks confirmed that it was possible. On the Conservation Trail we were lucky to see a vernal pool, a temporary pool of surface water, full of Wood Frog and Jefferson Salamander eggs, an early sign of spring.
As with every DOC event we had an outdoor educational theme. The theme for our event was Snow Geese and Tundra Swans so we had a brief presentation before starting our hike. First we reviewed the four major flyways in North America: the Atlantic Flyway (commonly known as the Kittatinny Ridge in the Harrisburg area), the Mississippi Flyway, the Central Flyway, and the Pacific Flyway.
(Please note that the Kittatinny Ridge is being threatened by development. Refer to Kittatinny Ridge for further information on this topic and to find what you can do to save the ridge.)
The Tundra Swans use mostly the Pacific and Atlantic Flyways to reach Northern Canada and the Northern and Western edges of Alaska breeding areas. They leave their wintering areas at their lowest weight relying heavily on way stations like Middle Creek and the lower Susquehanna. When winter approaches, the Tundra Swans east of Point Hope Alaska winter on the Atlantic Coast flying 4,000 miles. Swans south of Point Hope follow the Pacific flyway to their wintering areas along the Pacific Coast.
Tundra Swans have black beaks, faces, and legs. There are small yellow spots in front of their eyes. Holding their necks in a straight position differentiates them from the Mute Swans, a feral or domestic non-native species, which hold their necks in an “S” position.
The Mute Swans are easy to tell apart from Tundra Swans, because they have an orange bill with a black knob at the base. This non-native species is very aggressive, taking and defending a half square mile as its territory. It is a very aggressive bird and will hiss, stare, hit with the wrists of its wings and attack humans. This behavior and a voracious appetite disturbs local ecosystems displacing native species like the Tundra Swan.
Tundra Swans are dabblers used to eating animal matter and nipping off submerged aquatic plants as deep as three feet below the surface. However, due to vanishing wetlands they have begun to feed on agricultural fields. Nipping off the tops of plants and eating seeds left behind after the harvest.
Tundra Swans build their nests out of grasses, sedge, mosses, and lichens on the ground in a place providing good visibility. Their territory covers a half square mile, but does not seem to impact the local ecosystem as negatively as the Mute Swans. Tundra Swan babies, called cygnets, are born with their eyes open and are in the water 12 hours after they pip the shell. They are light gray in color, are brooded by the parents for about a week, and are ready to fly after two or three months.
On Sat., June 12th (Sunday) – Join the DOC on a canoe trip from Blue Mountain Outfitters (BMO) to West Fairview for an opportunity to observe the egrets, cormorants, and herons raise their young on Wade Island. This trip will be under the guidance of BMO with a cost of $29.40 per person for a group of 10, and $31.80 for less than 10. Call 395-2462 or email email@example.com to register. We will meet at the Duncannon Family Health Center to carpool at 9:00 am. or alternately at BMO at 9:30 am. Bring water, a snack, and binoculars. Don’t forget your sunscreen. If you register for this event please do not cancel unless absolutely necessary. We need that magic 10 or more!!!!!!!!