Celebrating Trail Communities

A.T. Community Spotlight: Duncannon, Pennsylvania

“Get out and hike!”  

That’s the motto in Duncannon, Pennsylvania, where the Appalachian Trail runs proudly through town. 

Take a short hike up to Hawk Rock where you have a bird’s eye view of Duncannon, joining thousands of others who travel from all over the United States to enjoy the hike. Or, if you want to immerse yourself deeper in nature, continue exploring the Trail, making your way to the “Duncannon Smokestack” and “Whispering Sands” of Gorgas Spring. 

Once you have finished enjoying one of Duncannon’s classic hikes, take a walk around downtown to catch a glimpse of current efforts to revitalize and renovate several historical buildings. Spend a night in the iconic Doyle Hotel where you may run into A.T. thru-, section-, and day-hikers. If you plan your visit right, you may be able to enjoy the 1788 Clarks Ferry Tavern once it has been renovated into a visitor and educational center (scheduled to open in 2024).

Group of hikers on rocky overlook with vista behind them

You may even run into a member of the Duncannon Outdoors Club, who will happily share information about the A.T.  The club has become a leading organization in the community, meeting monthly to create educational and service-learning events and opportunities. In addition to educational programs, the club prioritizes trail accessibility, offering “Hike Hawk Rock at Your Own Pace,” a yearly event for community members of all ages and fitness abilities.

Duncannon has had its share of challenges over the years, with attitude toward hikers being one of their most difficult challenges to navigate. Earlier in Duncannon’s designation history, community members and businesses were not always the most welcoming toward hikers, even wanting to divert the A.T. around Hawk Rock (this happened for a short time but has since returned to the original footpath).

Recently, community members and businesses alike are realizing the positive changes that the hiking community brings, such as increased tourism to the area and support of their local businesses. The presence of the Duncannon Outdoor Club and Duncannon Appalachian Trail Club at local markets, events, and festivals has helped create a more positive relationship between the community and hikers. 

In the coming years, Duncannon is excited to continue deepening its connection to the Appalachian Trail. Once the Clarks Ferry Tavern opens, visitors will have the opportunity to learn more about the A.T. and all the outdoor and natural resources Duncannon has to offer. They will also be able to hike the 9/11 Memorial Trail for which the Tavern serves as a trailhead. The annual A.T. Festival is expected to continue growing as well, with streets packed full of community members and visitors alike, engaging in educational and nature-based activities for all ages to enjoy.  

If you have not connected with Duncannon, be sure to give them a visit and a shout-out the next time you’re in the area!