View Full Version : Tuscarora Trail to avoid the "dry, hot" Darlington to Kennedy section

Rusty Joints
02-26-2015, 15:52
I am an 1100 mile section hiker and the plan this year is to hike SB from a little north of the Susquehanna to PenMar in July. The section from the Tuscarora Trail junction, 13 miles S of Duncannon, to Alex Kennedy shelter is described as having little water or shade and no camping. I was thinking about taking the Tuscarora Trail to PA 30, and hitching to the AT-30 junction. Does anyone have experience with this, or other ways around the section? Or is it not bad enough to take the trouble to avoid? I try to stay with white blazes, but I don't mind a little blue.
Rusty Joints

02-26-2015, 16:09
South of Duncannon: This is one of my favorite sections on the AT; stunning farmland, a creepy old cemetery, up and over some tricky mountains here and there. On my thru, I night hiked the Duncannon->Boiling Springs section getting the big climbs out of the way early. I'd suggest doing the same if you can catch a full moon. I don't recall having any issues with water, just go water heavy through it.

02-26-2015, 16:14
I just did this section this winter. If I were doing it southbound I would Fill up water in Duncannon and plan a short day to Darlington Shelter for the first night. Then next morning get water 1.5 miles south at the piped spring on the right after the climb down the mountain, then if needed fill up at Scott's farm. From there hike to Alec Kennedy which is an easy day.

02-26-2015, 16:48
surprised no one has mentioned theres also a fairly large, very nice town right smack in the middle of that section where one can easily get food, water and much else without even leaving the trail more than a few feet. and in a pinch theres services within sight of the trail (though admittedly tricky to reach) at the footbridge over rt 11.

unless you really cant pull anywhere near the mileage i would just do duncannon to boiling springs, then boiling springs to PGFSP.

02-26-2015, 16:55
While this is not my favorite section of the AT, why avoid it? It is actually a bit nice in a farmland sort of way. Also, you can't complain about elevation gain. I also didn't find the water an issue and if did it in July as well as an out and back day hike from US11

02-26-2015, 17:23
Get an early start or don't do it in the height of summer. As noted, you cross a highway about 1/2 way. Go west to find services near-by. You also walk right through Boiling Springs, so you can stop for breakfast and buy a drink to carry.

I don't think there is any good by-pass. You have to cross the Cumberland valley somehow. The old AT was a road walk and actually quite pleasant, as you walked shady, rural roads. The new path through the middle of farm fields offers little shade. It might be worth figuring out the old AT road walk route.

bamboo bob
02-26-2015, 17:25
I just checked. I did a 17 and 20 through there in a rainy may. Don't recall any water issues.

02-26-2015, 21:14
Although there appears to be several other sources, I'd rather carry 2-3 liters from Darlington to Boiling Springs and 4 liters from Boiling Springs to Rt 30 than hike the TT (knowing virtually nothing) and hitching back to the AT

02-26-2015, 21:34
From what I've heard, the Tuscarora in PA is much rockier than the AT between Duncannon and PenMar.

03-01-2015, 15:00
I second Cookerhiker's statement. Where is ki0eh? He knows the rocks of the northern Tuscarora.

I have hiked only the middle portion of the Tuscarora where it hosts the GET, so I don't have firsthand knowledge of the northernmost section of the TT, but I have researched it as I'm considering hiking that part this year. From what I hear, the northern TT is ridiculously, painfully rocky - whereas the corresponding section of AT isn't. That's not to say it wouldn't be an awesome challenge. You could follow the TT all the way to Shenandoah National Park if you wanted. Another option would be to follow the Tuscarora Trail to the C&O Canal and hike (or bike) that to Harpers Ferry. I've hiked a good bit of that section of Tuscarora and enjoyed it. Very pretty, very remote. That way you wouldn't miss out on Harpers Ferry and wouldn't have to try to hitch over.

03-01-2015, 16:40
There's basically no water on the Tuscarora for much longer south from Darlington Shelter. Looking at the new guide there is a claim there is a water pump 4.0 miles south (I don't remember seeing that), then next water is a high elevation spring 20.7 miles south (maybe only slightly more reliable than the spring at Darlington shelter itself). Much of that 20.7 miles is the rockiest footway in PA along ANY trail (A.T., Mid State, pick anywhere).

Head four miles south of Darlington Shelter on the A.T. and there is a yard hydrant at Scott Farm Trail Work Center. You will already have passed a fairly reliable spring even before crossing under PA 944 (see post #3). The A.T. office in Boiling Springs has a city water tap on the side of the building (good water, too, I miss living in B.S. when I think about how good the township water was there). South of Alex Kennedy shelter you cross Whiskey Spring Rd at the Whiskey Spring which is good water too.

The government-created trail through the Cumberland Valley is also shadier than it used to be even ten years ago. Trees have grown up to the point that the fellow who mows it now has a lot less work to do.

So although there may be merit to diverting onto the Tuscarora (such as Flat Rock view, better than any along the PA A.T.), water and better tread way are definitely NOT reasons to do so.

03-26-2015, 09:32
I sectioned Pa last summer. That section was a bit dry up on the mountain but good planning and water conservation can get you through no problem. Once we got into the valley we hit no issues. The syrup and soda was flowing nicely at the Waffle House Spring on Rt 11 as was the shaved ice in Boiling Springs. There was a refrigeration problem in Pine Grove that caused my half gallon of Mint Chocolate Chip to be a bit soft but I survived.

Rusty Joints
04-05-2015, 13:03
Thanks to everyone who commented. We will wend our way along the AT.
That leaves me with the Trail Guide for the north half of the Tuscarora Trail and the 2 maps that cover it from the AT in the north to Hancock Maryland, maps J and K. I would rather someone who is going to use these have them. If you will post and assert that you will use them and include a mailing address, I will send them to you. 1st come 1st served. If you don't want to post your name and address, put something here and send me a personal message, and I will try to figure out how to retrieve it. I will be traveling some in the next couple of weeks, so keep that in mind if you need the stuff quickly. And again, thanks to everyone for the information. It was not really available in useful form any other way.
Rusty Joints

Rusty Joints
04-12-2015, 06:29
maps taken