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  1. #1

    Default Best Time to Start a Spring Section in PA?

    Hi,

    I'm working my way north and expecting to do one of either 1) Harpers Ferry to Duncannon or 2) Duncannon to Delaware W.G. this year.

    Can you give me a good time frame for a spring hike where there will be good wildflowers and lots of hikers to camp with, but not so many as when the thru hikers start coming through. And if I get a chance to do the second section, what would be good time frame in fall with brisk cool to cold weather and enough hikers to enjoy without a huge crowd at shelters.

    Also would be interested in doing this with a buddy if anyone has similar plans. I posted in Oct. under the Meetup Forum about this and my hiking ability. I most likely will use airports plus public buses at D.C., Harrisburg and Newark to get in and out. Is Reagan in D.C. the best for getting Amtrak or bus connection to Harpers Ferry? I used Amtrak to end my last section in Harpers Ferry getting to D.C.

    Edwin

  2. #2
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    I enjoyed the section north of HF in late April a few years ago. Yes, to get to HF fly into Reagan National. Take metro's yellow line to Gallery Place, transfer to the Red line to Union station, then take Amtrak or the Marc commuter train directly to HF. Very easy.

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    Wlidflowers and thru hikers reach there at the same time. It's best to start your hike about Tax day which will have good blackberry and dog woods in bloom

  4. #4

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    Late April is a good time to leave HF. Start with the Flip Floppers when ever that is this year. There will be a small crowd to start out with. When I did this in '16 the "crowd" thinned out in a couple of days. Actually lost most of them when they stopped at the campground pizza could be delivered to on the second day and I went on. HF to Duncannon is definitely a more pleasant hike then Duncannon to DWG.

    Sorry to say, there aren't many wildflower to be found in PA. At least I didn't notice any to speak of. North Carolina is the place to go to see wildflowers in the spring.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coffee View Post
    I enjoyed the section north of HF in late April a few years ago. Yes, to get to HF fly into Reagan National. Take metro's yellow line to Gallery Place, transfer to the Red line to Union station, then take Amtrak or the Marc commuter train directly to HF. Very easy.
    +1 - I did this exact route to head back to Harper's Ferry in September 2017 to continue hiking NOBO. Get an early enough flight into Reagan and you can get the Amtrak train (after the Metro to the Amtrak terminal of course) in time for the rush hour commute to Harper's Ferry. That was the first time I ever took an Amtrak train and it was nice - not crowded at all on the day I went. You can get your Amtrak ticket online. It's not expensive. I think I paid a little more than $10. Since you will get to Harper's Ferry late in the afternoon, consider staying at the Teahorse Hostel in Harper's Ferry overnight. Nice place.
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    Registered User dudeijuststarted's Avatar
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    I went through in late April. I ran into no more than five people on trail through the entire state. Highly recommend it.

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    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ednotmilkman View Post
    I'm working my way north and expecting to do one of either 1) Harpers Ferry to Duncannon or 2) Duncannon to Delaware W.G. this year.

    And if I get a chance to do the second section, what would be good time frame in fall with brisk cool to cold weather and enough hikers to enjoy without a huge crowd at shelters.
    Regarding your possible fall hike, I did PA in 2017 starting in Harper's Ferry to Wind Gap (about 16 miles south of DWG). I left September 16 and finished October 2. It was hot! Some sort of a heat wave. It could not have been normal weather. The point is don't start until at least October if you want cool weather.

    As for being around other hikers, all the NOBO thru hikers are either finished or finishing at that time. You may have some SOBO thru hikers, but they will be few. Even flip-floppers will be south of PA heading SOBO by October. The trail could be pretty empty. When I was there in September, I spent a number of nights alone in shelters and other nights only had a few SOBO thru's who were way behind schedule in the shelters. The only time I met more than one or two hikers on the trail was near popular day hiker points on the trail, which happened mostly on the weekends.
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  8. #8

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    I did it with few friends in April one year. Weather wasnt great, normally there is higher likelihood of rain ins spring than later in the season. We were in northern PA and the Kirkrdige shelter water source was not turned on. We didnt see a lot of folk except at one shelter near a public water supply that was a popular spot for locals to party at.

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    Registered User tawa's Avatar
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    Im considering doing PA in April with start date between April 1st to April 15th. Will be watching the weather closely when we get into March.
    Let me know when you plan on leaving and perhaps we could link up or at least share notes.

  10. #10

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    how far into PA are you planning to go Tawa? I'll keep in touch- will send private message. Late April looks better than early April from the consensus here.

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    I did HF to Port Clinton last year, flying into DC, metro to Grand Central to HF, was like $17 to get to HF, all in one day. Was mid-May, good temps, plenty of company but not crowded, less than 200 had gotten through HF as thru hikers, planning in being in Port Clinton last of May this year and going into NY, Newburgh area. Looking forward to it.

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    Late April. There really aren't many noticeable spring ephemeral wildflowers along the A.T. in PA, though one notable exception is a big area of Virginia bluebells north and south of the Scott Farm Trail Work Center (between US 11 and PA 944, which in turn is between Boiling Springs and Duncannon) where the A.T. unusually (for PA) occupies creek bottom land for about a mile.

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    Registered User Sandy of PA's Avatar
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    Late May for flowers but can be hot. Most enjoyable weather on my 4 hikes thru PA was mid September.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sandy of PA View Post
    Late May for flowers but can be hot. Most enjoyable weather on my 4 hikes thru PA was mid September.
    I'll second this.
    Personally, first priority if I was recommending a section hike in the spring would be looking up the rain data and plan around that. Not every year, but there's been many where from mid March to mid or end of April, we have some rain. ... every. .... day. Sometimes it gets broken up by a day or two of beauty. Sometimes it is just two days a week of soaking rain and 5 days of mist/drizzle/fog.
    Mid April to beginning of june would be a higher chance of enjoyment. Fall is similar, September to early November, except rain events tend to be more concentrated into the occasional storm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sandy of PA View Post
    Late May for flowers but can be hot. Most enjoyable weather on my 4 hikes thru PA was mid September.
    I did PA last year in mid-September. They had a heat wave going on for one of the two weeks it took me to get through. Damn it was hot.
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    Late September isn't usually bad, especially for the Duncannon to DWG section. You'll meet some hikers, but they'll be mostly SOBOs with a rare scattering of other section hikers like yourself. The southern section (HF to Duncannon) is good in the spring, especially April before most of the thru-hikers get there if you don't want much company.
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