Author Archives: SeanO

March 2017 Snow Storm Photos

I got a few good pictures from the latest snow storm and thought I’d share them with you all.

Duncannon Winterfest 2016

We had a blast at Winterfest last night in Duncannon, PA! It was a nice little get-together at the Clark’s Ferry Tavern located at 600 North Market Street with about 12 different community groups, a campfire, some festive holiday yard decorations, Santa Claus, a Christmas tree, a DJ, and a few hundred happy people enjoying a night together in an average little American town.

DATC Reindeer Ornament

The Duncannon Appalachian Trail Community set up a table near the campfire (of course) with our informational brochures, T-shirts, AT postcards made by Susquenita Middle School students, cookies, snacks, apple cider, and our most popular item of the night, reindeer crafts for the kids! Thanks to the hard work and generosity of DATC member Deb Takach, we helped Duncannon children assemble 50 cardboard tube reindeer tree ornaments. That’s 100 googly eyes, 200 pipe cleaner pieces, 50 yarn scarves, and 101 holes poked! That one extra hole went into my finger, (I shouldn’t be allowed to play with scissors). Unfortunately, we ran out of reindeer in the first hour but we had plenty of free goodies to hand out to the kids and their parents thanks to DATC members Patrick W. and Robyn S.

Patrick made delightful cookies with currants, nuts, and a coffee glaze; and Robyn made tasty treats combining pretzels, chocolate, and candies. Paul S. manned the free cider station while spreading the word about all of the good work the DATC does and fielding questions about trees, bugs, and wildlife. Me? I just tried not to bleed on the reindeer as I poked the holes for their little pipe cleaner antlers.

Special thanks to The Duncannon Parks and Recreation Committee and all of the other volunteers who came together to arrange such a pleasant event.

Buy Hawk Rock T-Shirts!

Line of people waiting to buy Hawk Rock T-shirts at the DATC vendor booth.

Many people told us they wanted to buy a super awesome “I hiked to Hawk Rock” shirt but they couldn’t come to Hawk Rock to buy one in person. That’s why we’re currently accepting orders for more shirts via email until Wednesday November 23rd. Shirts ordered before November 23rd will be available for pickup at The Doyle Hotel starting Saturday, December 3rd. And to show our appreciation for The Doyle’s cooperation, the DATC will donate one dollar to The Doyle for every shirt you buy!

These high performance orange shirts are soft to the touch, 100% polyester, jersey knit, Aqua FX ® (for wicking properties), Freshcare ® (for anti-microbial properties), and darn good looking too. Long sleeves are $20 and short sleeves are $15 (2XL and 3XL are $3 more).

You can also order our green short sleeve DATC logo shirts for only $10. They’re 50/50 Poly/Cotton and come in sizes S, M, L, XL, 3XL, and 4XL (3XL and 4XL are $2 more – 2XL are sold out).

Send an email to before November 23rd and your order will be ready for pickup at The Doyle on December 3rd. Be sure to specify quantity, color (orange or green), sleeve length, and size when ordering.

We look forward to hearing from you. You’re going to look great in these shirts!

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.

Take a Hike…before the 2016 Duncannon AT Festival

Hike Trails of Duncannon

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:

  • PA Game Commission LogoEasy7:45 to 11:00Haldeman 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 ( to register. Parking SymbolWhere to park
  • Day Hikersa of Central PA - Meetup LogoDifficult 7:30 to 1:00Hawk 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 ( at least two days before this hike to register. Parking SymbolWhere 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.

Save the Doyle Hotel

The world-famous Doyle Hotel needs your help!

The Doyle Hotel in Duncannon

If you have ever been to The Doyle, if you have ever imagined going to The Doyle, if you know someone with a great story about The Doyle; then you know how important this iconic landmark is to the local community and the hiking community at large. More than a thousand “seasoned” (code word for “smelly”)  through-hikers are expected to visit the Doyle Hotel this year to pay their respect to both the establishment and the quirky couple who has devoted the past 15 years of their lives to serving hikers from around the world as well as local friends and families.

The legendary Doyle is in need of your immediate support to ensure that its legacy can carry on throughout the near and distant future. A slower-than-usual winter season has placed the owners Pat and Vickey Kelly in dire financial straights. Fortunately, some of their friends have started a GoFundMe page to rally supporters from far and wide to take action before it’s too late.

More information about their plight can be found at The Doyle Facebook page, Fox 43 News, ABC 27 News,, Penn Live’s Facebook post, DATC’s Facebook Post, this video interview, and most importantly, The Doyle’s GoFundMe page. Spread the word and share as many of these links as you possibly can. We need this to spread beyond the local Duncannon community and proliferate throughout the wild and wonderful community of past, present and future Appalachian Trail hikers. This won’t be an easy task but we all know that every difficult journey begins with a single step. Share the story and support The Doyle today!

Duncannon – 2016 Blizzard

It wasn’t easy walking through the knee-deep snow but the views of Duncannon and the surrounding area were definitely worth the effort. I hope you all get a chance to enjoy the sights and sounds that the Appalachian Trail has to offer on a cool and quiet winter’s day.

2016 New Year’s Resolution Hike at Hawk Rock

Hawk Rock overlook

Have you made your New Year’s resolutions? Are you planning to lose weight, get in shape, eat less, or exercise more? Join us on New Year’s Day and put your resolution to the test (res-o-lu-tion: noun: 1. The state or quality of being resolute; firm determination, 2. A serious decision to do something).

While I hope to be hiking up and down the mountain more than a few times, I won’t actually be “leading” the hike. This is essentially a self-lead hike; meaning that it’s just you, the mountain, and your desire to achieve your own personal goals. Of course you’re welcome to hike with others if you’d like but that’s completely up to you.

The hike starts at 9AM but you can arrive any time before 1PM since I plan on being there for a while. Leave a comment below if you’d like to join us for a great start to the new year. Thanks.

*If enough people sign up for this hike, there will be free hot chocolate!*

Time: Friday, January 1, 2016, 9:00 a.m.
Location: Duncannon Watershed Parking Lot
Address: 98 Watershed Drive, Duncannon, PA,
Coordinates: 40.383024, -77.033445

Directions: Park near the fenced-in recycling center, enter the woods near the Duncannon Borough trash can and Keep Hawk Rock Beautiful sign, then walk up the hill. DON’T turn left at the white-blazed Appalachian Trail, just walk straight up the AT to the top.


Height: The trail gains about 750 feet of elevation from the parking lot to the top of the mountain. To put that in perspective, the new One World Trade Center skyscraper is about 1,368 feet tall at the roof and has about 104 thirteen-foot-tall stories. That means walking up to the top of this mountain is like walking 58 stories (or 55% of the way) up Tower 1. If you walk up and down this mountain twice, you will have gained more elevation than walking to the top floor of the tallest building in the western hemisphere.

Distance: The trail from the bottom to the top is about .9 miles (nine tenths of a mile) long so walking up and down is a 1.8 mile out-and-back hike. It’s not even 2 miles long, so how hard can it really be?

Steepness: The trail has an average grade of 16%. That means that it’s on an angle of about 14.4 degrees. There are very few flat areas and even fewer short declines; in other words, it’s nearly a constant, perpetual, and unending uphill battle.

Terrain: Appalachian Trail through-hikers don’t call Pennsylvania “Rocksylvania” without good reason. There are plenty of big jagged rocks eager to claw at your feet on the way to Hawk Rock, so be sure to wear a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or boots. On the positive side, recent trail improvements have added hundreds of new steps to make the climb a bit more hospitable. But just a bit.

Weather: It’s going to be cold. And probably wet, or snowing, or icy…who knows, maybe all three. It’s winter. Suck it up.

Safety: You’re in the woods…with hunters…who want to shoot something. Don’t be that something. Wear orange.

The View:
View from Hawk Rock overlooking Duncannon and the Susquehanna River.

For more information about this trail, visit the Hawk Rock webpage.

Hawk Rock Litter-Free Once Again


Litter below Hawk Rock near Duncannon, Pennsylvania.

It’s appalling to consider the fact that people can carry full containers UP the trail but they can’t be bothered to carry the empty ones DOWN.  It’s sad really.  Some people don’t care or they just don’t know any better.  Fortunately, Duncannon is surrounded by good people who work hard to protect and preserve our outdoor natural resources!

Once again, Kevin Dunleavy volunteered to rappel down the face of Hawk Rock and retrieve all of the litter that had accumulated since the last time he did this back in 2014. Thanks Kevin. We greatly appreciate the time and effort you donate to keeping Hawk Rock beautiful.


Taking Out the Trash in Eastern PA

Hawk Rock Duncannon PA 2015-11-20

While hiking along the Appalachian Trail last Friday, I was surprised to see a dog on the trail with a guy clambering up the steep rocky slope below. I wasn’t sure what was going on so I was apprehensive as I approached. His pace quickened as I drew closer and he got back on the trail just in time to rein in the leash of his dog as I got within talking distance. His dog was friendly enough but he just wanted to be sure it was fully under control as I passed by. It’s refreshing to see someone taking the control of their dog seriously but it was truly surprising to see that his hands were full of trash and litter.

The Rock Slide Below Hawk RockI asked him if he went all of the way down there just to pick up some trash, and he said, “Yeah, that’s what I do.” As it turns out, I was talking to John Becker of “Taking Out the Trash in Eastern PA“. Mr. Becker was on a mission to hike the Susquehanna gap and hiking up to Hawk Rock was his last hike of the day. Even though the evening was fast approaching, he couldn’t just leave the trash on the ground tarnishing such a beautiful and unique view so he literally took the matter into his own hands. Out of all of the surprising things I’ve seen people do on the trail, this was one of the better ones.

John is determined to leave this world cleaner than the way he finds it. If you would like to help him achieve his goal, please check out “Taking Out the Trash” on GoFundMe. The world needs more people like him. Thanks for doing what you do Mr. Becker.