Category Archives: Duncannon Outdoors Club

Get outside and learn about the nature surrounding us all.

DOC Little Buffalo Hike and White Tailed Deer

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Duncannon Outdoor Club group photo at Little Buffalo state park

Taking a break at the top of climb number eight.

On Saturday, January the 16th a group of  daring hikers braved the weather to hike the trails of Little Buffalo State Park.  It was a cold, damp, drizzly morning to start and we did get rained on for a short period of time.  We were fortunate that the sun did stick its head out a few times before the wind hit.   With all the climbing we did the weather didn’t phase us.

A total of 5.5 miles was traversed over trails where we counted 10 climbs.  We started at Middle Ridge Trail to Buffalo Creek Trail and connected with the Buffalo Ridge Trail, finally ending up at the covered bridge,  then walked back to the office parking lot for the completion of the hike.

The theme for the event was, “The White Tailed Deer”.  The white tailed deer, belonging to the Cervidae family, are referred to as Cervids meaning hooved.  Most people are familiar with deer tracks which exemplify a cloven or split hoof.  When deer walk through deep mud or heavier deer leave  prints you can see the dew claw impressions. There are two dew claws above the back side of each hoof.

White tailed deer are also classified ruminants meaning multiple stomachs and cud chewing animals.   Deer have four stomachs.  They are active at dusk and dawn making them crepuscular mammals.  During this time they come out of cover, quickly eat, return to cover, regurgitate their food from the first stomach, and chew it (chewing their cud).  This behavior limits the amount of time the deer are out in the open exposed to predators. Deer eating habits change depending upon what is available each season. They are vegetarians eating herbaceous and woody plants.  In Spring and Summer they will feed on green plants.  Hard and soft mast are their preferred food source during the fall.  This includes nuts, buds, seeds,and fruit.  In winter food sources are scarce when they select bark, tree branches (ends), vines, and bushes.  Deer will gravitate toward food sources providing the most nutrients, one of the reasons why they prefer acorns in the fall and hemlock during the winter months.  These items are high in nutritional value.

No matter the season, do not feed the deer!  You may think you are helping them survive when you are really  increasing their chances of death and disease.  Feeding the deer disrupts the micro-organisms in their digestive track which can often lead to death.  In winter deer will migrate long distances to reach feeding  stations causing them to use up their fat reserves.  Feeding deer results in the congregation of large groups of deer exposing them to the diseases such as: CWD, Chronic Wasting Disease, and EHD, Epizootic Hemmorrhagic Disease. Continue reading

DOC February Hike Stoney Valley Trail – Leave No Trace, Hiking Etiquette

DOC Logo Feb. 20th – Join the DOC at the Stoney Valley Rail Trail for an average paced 4 mile hike on flat terrain.  We will be discussing Leave No Trace and Hiking Etiquette.  The hike will consist of a walk two mile in and back for a total of 4 miles. This hike will be canceled if snow makes it impossible to gain access to the Stoney Valley Trail, in that the dirt road may not be maintained.  Wear orange. Meet at the Duncannon Family Health Center at 9:00 am. or alternately at Dauphin Park and Ride at 9:30 am. Call 395-2462 or email to register.

Duncannon Outdoor Club 2016 Schedule

DOC LogoSchedule:  The Duncannon Outdoor Club will host a hike every third Saturday of each Month.  The time of day when the hike occurs will depend on the hike event for that particular Saturday.  Dates may change due to conflicts. Call Deb Takach at 395-2462 or email to register for any of the following hikes. the ground make sure to wear hiking boots and if you have micro spikes or yak tracks bring them.  Learn about the White Tailed Deer.  Meet at the Duncannon Family Health Center at 9:00 am. or alternately at  Little Buffalo Office parking lot at 9:30am.  Call 395-2462 or email to register.

Feb. 20th – Come to an average paced in and out hike on the Stoney Valley Rail Trail for a total of 4 miles on easy terrain.  We will be discussing Leave No Trace and hiking etiquette.  Meet at 9:00 at the Duncannon Family Health Center or alternately at the Dauphin Park and Ride at 9:30 am.  Call 395-2462 or email to register.

Mar. 12th Come to the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area and observe the migration of thousands of Snow Geese and Tundra Swans as they touch down at this important way station.  Then hike an average paced 6 mile hike over moderate to easy terrain on a series of trails that form a loop back to the visitor’s center.  There are 2 climbs ranging from 300 to 400 ft.  Meet at the Duncannon Family Health Center to carpool at 8:30 am or alternately at the Kmart parking lot at 9:00am.  Call 395-2462 or email to register.  Please reimburse drivers 10 cents per mile and for turnpike tolls.  Bring your cameras and binoculars if you have them.

April 16th – Come to a family, kid, dog friendly 3 mile average paced hike on easy terrain at the Wildwood Nature Center.  See how many items you can cross off your observation card.  Dogs must be leased.   Meet at the Duncannon Family Health Center at 9:00 am to carpool or alternately at the nature center at 9:30 am.  Call 395-2462 or email to register.

May 14th  Come a kid friendly scavenger hunt at the Cornerstone Christian Church Trails for a leisurely paced 1.43 mile hike over easy terrain.  See how many hidden things can be found along the trail.  This hike is appropriate for children 5 and up.  Adults without children are also welcome.   Meet at the Cornerstone Christian Church, Duncannon at 10:00 am. Call 395-2462 or email to register.

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 Blue Mountain Outfitters with a cost of $29.40 per person for a group of 10, and  $31.80 for less.  Call 395-2462 or email 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.

July 16th Join us for two, 1 mile hikes at Big Spring State Park in Blain.  Witness the dying giant Hemlocks, and  then hike to an unfinished railroad tunnel.  Both hikes are average paced  over moderate terrain.  Bring a lunch.  Learn about the Wooly Adelgid and how it is endangering our state tree, the Hemlock.  Meet at the Duncannon Family Health Center at 10:00 am. to carpool.  Please pay drivers 10 cents per mile for gas (80 miles total).  Call 395-2462 or email to register.

 Aug. 20th 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 to identify the different forms of poison ivy and poison sumac.  We will be meeting at 9:00 am. at the Duncannon Family Health Center.  Call 395-2462 or email to register.  This is a dog friendly hike, however, dogs must be leashed.

Sept. 17thHike up Hawk Rock at night.  Bring flashlights or headlamps.  We will be hiking 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 Duncannon and the Juniata, Susquehanna rivers.  Once at the top we will learn about the elusive critter the Porcupine.  Meet at 7:00 pm. at the AT trailhead to Hawk Rock (across from Tubby’s Nightclub).  Call 395-2462 or email to register.

Oct. 15th Join the DOC for a 3 mile average paced night hike through the wooded cross country trails behind Susquenita High School.  The terrain is moderate to strenuous 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.

Nov. 20th Want to learn how to identify trees?  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 RT325 on state game lands.  Make sure to wear orange.  Meet at the Duncannon Family Health Center at 9:00 am to carpool or alternately at 9:30 am. at the intersection of RT225 and RT325 (parking area 40.38867,-76.94168).  Call 648-8226 or email to register.

Dec. 17th    Come to Pine Grove Furnace and hike from the furnace stack to Railroad Bed Road, to Pole Steeple, and the Appalachian Trail for a 7 mile average paced loop hike on moderate to strenuous terrain.  Learn about Lyme Disease and how PA has been the number one state for the most infections for the last 5 years.  Bring micro spikes or Yak Tracks if you have them and there is snow on the mountain tops as we will be climbing a mountain that raises 500 feet in three quarters of a mile.  We will meet at 8:30 am. at the Duncannon Family Health Center to carpool or alternately at the furnace stack parking lot at Pine Grove Furnace around 9:30 am.  Call 395-2462 or email to register.  Wear orange.


Waggoner’s Gap Hike – The Kittitinny Ridge and The Five Water Gaps

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View from the top>

View from the top>

On Saturday, Nov. 21st the Duncannon Outdoor Club hiked approximately two miles on a VERY rocky section of the Tuscarora Trail at Waggoner’s Gap on the Kittatinny  Ridge.  It was a beautiful day and the mountaintop views were spectacular!  Only one raptor flew by and it was identified as a Red tailed Hawk.  (A raptor being a bird with a hooked beak and having talons.).  After spending a little time looking for other raptors the group headed out on the trail.

Kittatinny Ridge

Kittatinny Ridge

(ALL RIGHTS) View from high rocks overlooking Johnsonburg Swamp Preserve in New Jersey. Johnsonburg Swamp Preserve is New Jersey's best limestone forest and one of the most important, species-rich natural areas in the state. Photo credit: © Dwight Hiscano


The Kittatinny Ridge is a 200 mile uninterrupted forest that begins in the northern end of New Jersey, continues through Pennsylvania, and ends at the Maryland state line.  It provides habitat for many species, especially those that cannot survive in fragmented forests.


Rain and snow falling on the forested ridge provides a water source for creeks, seasonal water sources, vernal ponds, and wet lands.  It also is a major source of drinking water for the thousands of people living below the ridge.


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DOC Family Christmas Trails Outing – Theme: Where Do Animals Go In Winter?

DOC LogoOn Saturday, December 19th join the DOC for a night out at the Litte Buffalo State Park’s Christmas Trails.  This event is for the whole family, especially the little ones.  Learn where common animals go in the winter and then walk the quarter mile trail lit with lights and decorated with many Christmas displays.  Stop at the North Pole for hot chocolate and cookies on the way.  We will be meeting at the Duncannon Family Health Center at 6:30 pm. to carpool.  Alternatively meet at the park office at 7:00 pm.  Call 395-2462 or email to register.  Donations for the trail will be accepted and a small fee may be asked for the hot chocolate and cookies.

DOC October Night Hike – Where Have All the Little Brown Bats Gone?

DOC LogoThe Duncannon Outdoor Club had a nice night hike up Peter’s Mountain on Oct. 24th.  As we began our assent one could actually see all the flashing lights in Duncannon as the Halloween Parade marched down Market Street.  Once at the summit, on the southern side of the mountain, winds hit with a vengeance, so our discussion on Little Brown Bats was rather hasty.  It was good that we cut it short because we returned just as the rains came.


So what about Little Brown Bats?  Have you notice that during summer nights you no longer see bats flying around?  Did you know that their absence has caused a lot of concern?  One Little Brown Bat ate up to 3,000 mosquitoes and flying insects at night.  A colony of 100 Little Brown Bats in a Pennsylvania cave ate more than a quarter million mosquitoes and small insects a night.  Now the cave is empty.  Concerns about increased cases of mosquito born diseases like the West Nile Virus are real, since bats are the only major predators of night flying insects.

There are 9 kinds of bats living in Pennsylvania during the summer months.  The Little Brown Bat was the most common bat in PA.  Now it is one of the rarest with a 98% mortality rate due to the White Nose Syndrome (WNS).  A total of 5.7 million bats have died.   Many bats migrate south during the winter, but the Little Brown Bat enters a state of torpor in caves, tunnels, and mines.  The bats are declining rapidly because of WNS, a fungus that thrives in cold damp environments, were they overwinter.  It is believed that the fungus was brought over from Europe around 2006 on equipment and shoes of spelunkers.  With the Little Brown Bat producing only one pup per year, the lowest reproductive rate of any mammal its size, its future looks very dim.

The WNS exhibits itself as a white coating on the muzzle, ears and wings of the bats causing painful lesions.  The pain wakes the bats up, using important fat reserves.  Unfortunately the bats wake too early before there are any insects available.  They starve once their fat reserves have been utilized.

So what can be done?  The State Game Commission has gone into survivor management mode in an attempt to save the species.  A few bats have survived and it is hoped that their genes will provide immunity to WNS in their offspring.  People are urged to stay out of caves, tunnels and mines during times or torpor, and to assure that clothing and equipment are cleaned before entering such environments.  Building of bat houses provides a safer place for summer residence during breeding and enable one to keep a bat count.  Volunteer to take part in the Appalachian Bat Count during the summer.  Go to and use the search tool for “Appalachian Bat Count”.


DOC Hike – Where Have All The Monarchs Gone?

The DOC hikers met on September 26th, Family Hiking Day, to learn about Monarchs and then head out for a hike.  Prior to the hike, they were given the opportunity to design their own backpack which came with a first aid kit.  Materials were provided by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and were greatly appreciated.  Items left over were handed out at the Little Buffalo Festival of the Arts where they were a great hit!

Also, prior to hitting the trails hikers learned about the Monarch Butterflies, why the butterflies are disappearing and what people could do to help.  Information presented to the group can be obtained at Where Have All the Monarchs Gone?

The DOC hikers headed up Hawk Rock for one of three options:  hike up and back, hike up along the ridge and to the blue trail and back on Reservoir Road, or hike up to the blue trail to the old furnace stack on Reservoir Road and back.  Most of the hikers chose option one, but we did have a few that took the last option to the furnace stack.  It was a beautiful day and the view was fantastic!  Thanks to Sean O. for leading the longer hike.

Information on the furnace stack can be found at The Duncannon Smoke Stack.

DOC Moon Light Hike – Where Have All The Little Brown Bats Gone?


Little Brown Bat

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On October 24th join the DOC for a moon lit hike up Peter’s Mountain.  The 4 mile hike will be on moderate to strenuous terrain at an average pace.  Learn about the Little Brown Bat and why 98% of them have expired in Pennsylvania and other states.  Bring headlamps or flashlights.  Meet at the Clarks Ferry AT parking lot (40.395767,-77.00871) at 6:30 pm.  Call 395-2462 or email to register.


Where Have All The Monarchs Gone?


 DOC LogoWhere have all the Monarchs gone?  Join the Duncannon Outdoor Club on Family Hiking Day, Saturday, September 26th to find out the answer. This hike will offer three possible options. Option one is a hike up to Hawk Rock for 2 miles out and back on moderate to strenuous terrain, at an average pace. The second option will continue from the top of Hawk Rock on the ridge to the blue trail, back on reservoir road for a loop hike. This will be an 8 mile hike. If the group so chooses there is a third option of continuing from the blue trail on the reservoir road to the old furnace stack and back on Reservoir Road for a ten mile loop hike. Meet at 9:00am at the Hawk Rock AT Trailhead by Tubby’s Restaurant in Duncannon. To Register call 717-395-2462 or email