Hawk Rock Vandalism

Amazing panoramic view from Duncannon PA's Hawk Rock, summer 2014Nearly every Duncannon resident has been up to Hawk Rock at some point in their life.  The people of Duncannon are lucky to have what is often considered one of the best views in the state of Pennsylvania with its wide open natural vista showing Duncannon Borough, the Susquehanna and Juniata river confluence, and the Clarks Ferry Bridge off to the right.  Shermans Creek is immediately below with Orchard Hill, Dicks Ridge, Mahanoy Ridge, Hickory Ridge, and the Tuscarora Mountain ridges trailing off into the distance.  So why isn’t this beautiful vista more popular among hikers and tourists?

Hawk Rock is a great place to go to enjoy nature’s beauty as it spreads out both far and wide but when seen up close, the rock itself is an ugly mess plagued by layer upon layer of graffiti and the area directly below is littered with years upon years of trash.

Here is how Hawk Rock has looked in the past:

Normally I don’t show pictures of Hawk Rock graffiti because I dislike giving vandals any publicity but the most recent incident was too terrible to ignore.  Some misguided Romeo decided that the best way he could declare his devotion to his beloved “Anna” was by spray-painting about 30 red hearts on rocks and trees all along the Appalachian Trail between the recycling center and Hawk Rock.  He also wrote “I Love you Anna” with a dopey smiley face on a large rock one third of the way up the mountain.  And of course he also had to proclaim his love for all of the world to see by painting “I would climb a mountain to see you smile” across the entirety of Hawk Rock and signed it ABJR.  I’m guessing AB is for the girl Anna B. and J.R. are his initials or he’s A.B. Junior.

Major act of vandalism at Hawk Rock near Duncannon, PA

The damage done by this lovestruck loser was so bad that the Duncannon Appalachian Trail Community, the Mountain Club of Maryland and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy joined together and invested approximately 200 dollars and 50 man-hours to remove a large part of the graffiti.  The graffiti remover product is expensive and requires about 50 gallons of water to rinse off 1 gallon of remover.  As I’m sure you can imagine, carrying 50 gallons (400 pounds) of water up to Hawk Rock is no easy task.  We are making progress but we are not done yet.

Duncannon's Hawk Rock after August 2014 graffitit removal

Hawk Rock after the first round of graffiti removal.

So what can you do to help?  The DATC, MCM and ATC will be getting together again on Sunday, September 14, 2014 between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. to clean off the remaining graffiti and we need help carrying water up the mountain.  It doesn’t matter if you carry one cup of water or five gallons; nor does it matter if you make one trip up the mountain or three; we would like you to come out to the Duncannon Borough and Penn Twp. recycling center and show your support for one of Duncannon’s most beautiful natural resources.

Another way you can help is by talking to young people and explaining how this type of vandalism not only defaces nature, but Duncannon and America’s reputations as well.  People come from around the world to hike the Appalachian Trail and enjoy views similar to Hawk Rock.  Seeing so much vandalism is a stain on Duncannon’s reputation and disrespectful to America and its national parks (the AT is part of the NPS).

Thank you for taking pride in your community and helping to make a change for the better.

6 thoughts on “Hawk Rock Vandalism

    1. SeanO Post author

      Hi Diana,

      We’re trying to collect 1 gallon and 2 liter bottles, and we hope to get there early to hand them out to people.

      They will start applying graffiti remover around 10AM but anyone can bring their own water (doesn’t have to be drinkable) up the mountain any time before 2PM.

      Items we might need include:

      • rubber gloves
      • work gloves
      • water containers
      • wire brushes
      • scrubbing brushes

      Let me know if there is anything we can do to make helping us easier.

      Thanks for your interest!

  1. Jason

    If I may add my two cents about the grafitti I believe there can be a solution that benefits everyone. Grafitti is art, point blank. Some grafitti may be offensive, but if you can regulate a grafitti rule as opposed to just calling it vandalism then it’s a win win. Why not invite grafitti artists to design rock/duncannon/nature/positive based themes onto the rock. I agree that using grafitti on a tree is wrong, but a rock or something should be all game, it can help boost the attraction as well. Look at Philly, even though it is far from a nature scene the city thrives off of it’s grafitti culture due to the expressed emotion of artists. Take a trip there and really let the relevance of grafitti as an artform soak in. Thanks.

    1. Patrick Walsh

      Jason, thank so much for your input on the graffiti at Hawk Rock. The DATC feels that graffiti on Hawk Rock is contradicting to our mission statement of “Promoting, Protecting and Preserving Our Outdoor Recreational Resources for Future Generations.” We have also found in the past that constant graffiti on Hawk Rock also tends to attract litter and rubbish around the area.

      Perhaps an alternative to painting on Hawk Rock would be organizing artists to paint murals in downtown Duncannon. Currently there is a mural that we know of across the street from the Doyle, come check it out! We encourage you to come our next meeting, September 14, 6:00 pm at the Duncannon Borough Office at 428 N High Street, Duncannon, if you would like to suggest to the DATC doing a mural or some other artistic project in Duncannon and maybe even help organize it! We are always looking for new volunteers and ideas for the DATC. Hope to see you there Jason and thanks again for the feedback!

    2. N. B.

      Thanks for thinking outside the box and trying to find a positive solution, Jason.

      I enjoy seeing nature themed art work on human made structures along the Appalachian Trail. It passes through Duncannon about a mile north of Hawk Rock, and we now have several nature themed murals on walls and bridge abutments. Perhaps we should consider an opportunity for more free-form artistic expression, like graffiti, somewhere along the trail in town. Its worth a thought.

      Outside of town, though, the Appalachian Trail isn’t the place for human artwork, graffiti or otherwise. Its a place a lot of us go to enjoy the natural world. Though we can’t escape human works entirely on this crowded east coast, we try our best! That’s why so many volunteers work hard to keep the Appalachian Trail pristine, and its one of the reasons why hikers religiously follow Leave No Trace.

      I’ll watch for the graffiti when I am next in Philly. Thanks for the advice!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *