View Full Version : Hiking from PenMar to Swatara Gap... Oct 5-15

Downhill Trucker
09-16-2011, 12:49
Any suggestions, cautions, things to see, etc...


09-16-2011, 13:30
This is one of the flattest sections of the entire AT. Things to look forward to:

The half way sign
Pine grove furnace state park and the half gallon challenge
The cumberland valley
The privy at Darlington Shelter is worth checking out
Duncannon, PA and the Doyle Hotel

09-17-2011, 07:26
The Rock Maze south of Whiskey Spring Road
High Mountain Have Hostel - Shippensburg Rd. 717 352 4686
Subs at Green Mt. Store - Pa Rt 34, north of Pine Grove Furnace
Quarry Gap and Birch Run Shelters

09-17-2011, 12:41
I live in Pa and have hiked the trail each way more times than I can remember. That southern section has always been one of my favorites. There is a great view after climbing out of Pine Grove Furnace State Park. One of the best in Pa in my opinion, something other than a farm view or a view overlooking a small town. As you get close to Swatara Gap there are a lot of neat things to check out. Rausch Gap area has remains of old towns, and old cemetary etc. Sometimes you get a free air show from the Fort Indian Town Gap. If so you'll either love it or hate it as it gets pretty loud. Amazing to watch the fighter jets flying along the ridge! Have fun...

09-17-2011, 17:00
There's a 0.25 blueblaze to Pole Steeple at 2.5 miles north of Pine Grove State Park . The views north from here are few for a least a days walk so soak it up good . Chimney Rocks further south is also a can't miss view looking out toward the direction of South Mountain, Pa. The AT Museum is a worthy stop when you hike into Pine Grove St. Park.
The only caveat I have for this section is wear comfortable shoes that support the ankles because this is PA after all and your feet are going to be tired after pounding rocks all day.

09-23-2011, 12:57
Hiked US11 to Duncannon + some miles near Pen Mar last weekend. Trail has mainly dried out, except for a bit of mud in some farmer's fields. What to watch out for...well, there are cows in some of those fields...it is not all mud that you see... Don't miss the views from Hawk Rock right before you get to Duncannon, and do stop into the Doyle!

Will have some other updates after this weekend.

09-23-2011, 13:06
The only caveat I have for this section is wear comfortable shoes that support the ankles because this is PA after all and your feet are going to be tired after pounding rocks all day.

Actually the real rocky areas are north of Swatari to DWG. This section is not too bad in that respect, some minor areas, no big deal. Good insoles are a better bet then boots which I find cumbersome on rocks. I did much better dodging rocks in trail runners. I find poles also helpful

09-23-2011, 14:21
We hiked this section over two trips last year, 5-days each, I think. One trip was in June and the next was in October. If interested, I documented the trips at

09-24-2011, 00:26
I live 5 miles from Swatara Gap Rt72 and the Trail. Once you reach the gap you can follow the hike/bike path along the creek up to Lickdale and have good eats. Great place to be picked up too. I do alot of day hikes from Swatara Gap Rt72 and enjoy the hike into Duncannon across the river. There are bear in this area and you will have to hang you food. I've come across bear **** in the trail coming up the Mnt from Duncannon and in the Swatara State Park. Lots of snakes on the ridges and turkey calling in the evening. Should be a fun Fall hike!

09-27-2011, 00:59
Don't forget it is hunting season so wear orange.

09-27-2011, 09:50
Just did this hike in two sections, Clarks Valley to Swatara parking area (16 miles) on Saturday, and Duncannon to Clark's Valley on Sunday (19 miles) -- Trail Angel Mary shuttled me from Swatara to Duncannon. Rocks are not too bad, the worst being at the top of the ridge after climbing from the Susquehanna (maybe a mile in total, a fair amount of bouldering).

Trail was pretty wet on Saturday, especially the part where it follows an old coach road for 7 miles -- I thought they moved the Susquehanna onto the AT at times. Beer was cold, and New York strip steak + potato was awesome at the Doyle Saturday night.

If it is hot, make sure you carry plenty of water for the Duncannon to Clark's Valley portion -- though you can fill your bottles at the Clarks Ferry shelter after the climb (and bouldering) if you like. Peter's Mountain Shelter looks very nice, but the spring is in Canada, so they say.

I don't think hunting season starts until November 15th, based on the signs. You will hear gunfire, but it is from a military base and a gun range.

Have fun!

09-27-2011, 12:05
Archery season for deer starts this sasturday.....so do bring orange.

09-27-2011, 14:02
You've picked a good section for a fall hike. To add to what the others have pointed to, I'd say not to miss the two ghost towns near the end of your hike: Yellow Springs village and Rauch Gap village. They're both on the trail and you'll pass right through them, but stop a bit and take a look around. They're a reminder of what these mountains once were; a populated area relying on iron mining. Be sure to take the short side trail to see Rauch Gap cemetery too.

Here are a couple of pictures of both villages from my hike through here in Oct. of last year.

09-27-2011, 15:51
Ditto on the Doyle! You must stop there!

09-27-2011, 16:06
You don't want to miss the AT Museum which is located about 100' off the trail as you hike through Pine Grove Furnace State Park, near the "half-gallon chanlange". The Museum will be open from noon to 4:00pm on all weekends in October.

09-29-2011, 10:54
When you get to Tumbling Run, replace all of your water at the piped spring on the opposie side of the creek. It was tested as the purest anywhere around.

09-29-2011, 11:18
You can get a free shower at pine grove state park.