DOC November Hike Tree Identification

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Want to learn how to identify trees? On Sunday, November 20th come out for a hike with the DOC as we learn the secrets to tree identification. We will hike in and out for a total of 2 miles at an average pace over easy terrain off RT 325 on state game lands. Meet at the Holy Spirit Duncannon Center at 9:00 am. to carpool or alternately at 9:30 am. at the intersection of RT 225 and RT 325 (parking area – 40.38867,-76.94168). Call Paul at 648-8226 or email to register. For precaution purposes wear something orange.

It’s For The Birds

This summer the Duncannon Outdoor Club planned a boating trip.   Eight brave boaters tackled a very rough Susquehanna River from Marysville to West Fairview.  High winds and water nearly swamped us as we headed from Blue Mountain Outfitters to the river left.  The ledges and rocks were not visible due to the high water and whitecaps caused by the ever roaring wind. This resulted in one of the canoes capsizing, but other than a sudden dunking everything turned out okay.  Once in between the islands the winds were dissipated and we were able to relax a little.  All in all everyone had a great time, asking, “Can we do this again?”

When sheltered by the islands, we floated by Wade Island being careful to keep our voices down due to the nesting colonies of the endangered Great White Egrets, Black-Capped-Night Herons and the ever increasing, invading Double-crested Cormorants.  Wade Island is a designated  Pennsylvania Audubon Important Bird Area and is not open to the public, but can be observed by boat.

Many people are not aware that the Great White Egret is endangered, because they are a common sight in our area.  However, there are only two nesting sites in PA.  A small colony in York County on the Kiwanis Lake and the largest colony which inhabits Wade Island.

The Black-Crowned-Night Heron is also endangered and more illusive then the Great White Egret.  Unfortunately the colonies of both these species have declined and continue to do so due to loss of habitat, water pollution, and nesting site disturbances. Such is the case of the Cormorant colony which has disturbed the  nesting site, taking prime nesting spots, and damaging habitat on Wade Island by sheer numbers and nesting habits.

Cormorants used to be rare in this area, but have increased greatly in numbers over the years.   It is believed that their increasing numbers are a result of expanding fish hatcheries in the south and a larger number of small fish in the Great Lakes.  Cormorants nest high in trees or on the ground of islands.  On Wade Island they take prime nesting habitat in trees limiting the sites for the Great White Egret and Black-Crowned-Night Heron.  Feces fall in large amounts on those below and kills trees and herbaceous growth on the island.  Cormorants also damage the trees when they collect nesting material. This was evident in our trip as we passed the island. This is unfortunate for the Great White Heron and Black-Crowned-Night Heron since they nest only in the trees.  When all the trees die, the Cormorants are known to nest on the ground.

In 2006, 2011, 2012 and 2013 a number of Cormorants were culled by marksmen under the direction of the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services.  The chart below shows the results.  Note the decrease in Great White Egrets (red) and Black-Crowned-Night Herons (blue) as the population of Double-Crested Cormorants (green) increased.  Gaining Information regarding future culling was attempted from various sources without success.





Some people feel that we should not cull the Cormorants and let Mother Nature take her course. Others disagree believing that mankind made the changes responsible for the increasing number of these birds, and it is mankind who must remediate the results of their actions.  What do you think?



KTA Trail Challenge – 2016

DATC Works with KTASeveral members of the Duncannon Appalachian Trail Community were among more than one hundred volunteers who helped facilitate Keystone Trails Association‘s eighth annual Super Hike. The Super Hike has been renamed the KTA Trail Challenge to more accurately reflect the efforts of over 400 trail runners who took to the hiking trails of York and Lancaster counties on a very hot and humid September tenth.

The 25 kilometer runners began at Susquehannock State Park and the 50K runners began at the Pequea Creek Campground. Both groups crossed the finish line at Otter Creek Campground where they were rewarded with, not only bells and whistles, but also medallions and t-shirts followed by a picnic supper. Hardy runners and trail hikers are encouraged to start training for next year’s KTA Trail Challenge.

Keystone Trails Association members and their friends are preparing for their fall membership meeting and hiking weekend which will be held October 13th thru the 16th at Whitehall Camp and Conference Center in Emlenton, Clarion County. Hiking will be a big part of the weekend as well as learning more about Grandma Gatewood, glass blowing, the Allegheny River, and the North Trail. Reservations are open through October 16th.

A Hike and Spooky Stories!

On Sat., Oct. 15th join the Duncannon Outdoor Club (DOC) for a 2 mile average paced night hike through the wooded cross country trails behind Susquenita High School. The terrain is moderate to easy with a few short climbs. Stop at the abandoned cemetery for some scary stories told by Wilhalmina Dorotheea Roskabower Kaufman. Bring a sit upon if you wish to sit during the story telling. Bring flashlights or headlamps. Meet at the left side of the Susquenita High School Parking lot closest to the building at 7:00 pm. (309 Schoolhouse Rd. Duncannon – along 11/15) Call 395-2462 or email to register.

National Family Hiking Day

DOC LogoSaturday, 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 to register.

Duncannon Outdoor Club Night – Porcupines

DOC LogoOn 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  to register.

Duncannon Youth Group and DATC Hike to Hawk Rock & Eagles Edge Overlook

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.

Duncannon Outdoor Club Aug. Hike – Poison Ivy and Poison Sumac

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 to register.

DOC July 16th Hike at Big Spring State Park – The Wooly Adelgid

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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 to register.

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Where do you belong?

I’m alive and doin’ fine