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  1. #1

    Default Where to sleep- Duncannon Trailhead?

    Next month, myself and friend will be shuttling ourselves to Duncannon for a Nobo hike from Boiling Springs to Duncannon. We will likely be arriving to Duncannon late on a Friday night, and looking at our options for sleeping. I have read in Guthook of people’s dismay for the Doyle and the camping grounds in town. I also read of a flat campsite half mile north of PA22 bridge (before it gets steep)

    Anyone have suggestions as where we could sleep? Not opposed to hostel or hotel but looking for cheap alternates. Safe to park at the commuter lot there?! Thanks and happy trails!

  2. #2

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    Man I love PA. Great stretch of trail thru there. I haven't heard of any issues parking in Duncannon. I parked at the Doyle once no problem. There is a motel in town. Unfortunately I can not suggest staying at the Doyle however I seem to every time I am thru there.(2 trips now lol). I would honestly suggest staying in Harrisburg at a hotel and just driving the short distance over the next day.

    Just in case you were not aware, the stretch of trail from BS to Duncannon has alot of camping restrictions due to farm land.
    Trail Miles: 3,715.9
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    AT Map 1 Completion: 1818.9 Springer, GA - Franconia Notch, NH
    AT Map 2 Completion: 263.8 Gaps From GA - PA

  3. #3

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    Yep! Our first day will be 14ish miles but I’ve read it’s easy...

  4. #4
    Registered User Crossup's Avatar
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    I just did 93 miles Sobo from Rt 183(near the 501 shelter) to James Fry to connect a previously done section. I had no issue humping an over 40lb pack(and I'm old and small) the 14miles(from Darlington) plus 4 more to Alex Kennedy plus another 2+ in town and doing side trails.

    It has to be at least one of the easiest hikes on the AT, also I was a bit surprised to find several camping spots after Darlington so you actually need only to make around 12 miles. As to camping restrictions, I had heard that but there were no signs or info on the trail.

    Like the Roller Coaster, the whole thing is over hyped as to difficulty etc, there were several water sources spaced out well, the corn fields where modest sized so not a lot of time spent in the sun. The miles went fast and it was less tiring than my normal 10 mile days. It took me just over 8 hrs to do 20 miles and I was passed by young hikers like I was standing still so you can really roll if you have the legs.

  5. #5

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    There is no camping coming out of Duncannon. Once you cross the river and the several highways, you start a steep climb immediately and then it turns into a rock maze and continues to be a very rocky and narrow ridge walk until you get to the first shelter. (Which was real fun to do in a heavy rain).

    If you have Guthook, it shows all the practical tent sites and most of those are really marginal, which you would think twice about using even in an emergency. Uneven and full of protruding rocks.


    I think you want to drop a car off at Duncannon. The commuter lot is next to a busy highway. Even it the cops don't shake you down, I doubt you'd get any sleep there. It's also right next to busy train tracks.


    Spring for a motel out of town or stay at the Doyle, but they might lock up before you arrive too.
    Last edited by Slo-go'en; 09-11-2019 at 13:43.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crossup View Post
    Like the Roller Coaster, the whole thing is over hyped as to difficulty etc, there were several water sources spaced out well, the corn fields where modest sized so not a lot of time spent in the sun. The miles went fast and it was less tiring than my normal 10 mile days. It took me just over 8 hrs to do 20 miles and I was passed by young hikers like I was standing still so you can really roll if you have the legs.
    Try doing that hike on a humid, 80 degree day. About half that hike is in the sun and going NOBO, that half is in the afternoon. Not only was it hot, but it was really muddy, it being spring time when I went through. I wouldn't have drank water from any of the sources going across the valley. No doubt full of pesticides.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  7. #7
    13-45 Section Hiker Trash Berserker's Avatar
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    If you are starting in Boiling Springs there's always the "Backpacker Campground", which is literally just a flat area in between the railroad tracks and a field about 0.1 miles out of Boiling Springs SOBO on the AT. I stayed here one night and dubbed it the "Hobo Spot". Anyway, if you put in some ear plugs or you sleep really sound it might be an option. Just note that trains come by periodically all night long.

    The other option is the one Gambit mentioned. Just go to Harrisburg and get a cheap hotel.
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  8. #8
    Registered User LittleRock's Avatar
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    I'm heading out for a longer section from Pen-Mar to Port Clinton in early October, maybe we'll cross paths.

    FWIW, I'm probably going to stay at the Doyle on my way through Duncannon.
    It's all good in the woods.

  9. #9
    Registered User Crossup's Avatar
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    According to WeatherBug August 17 was over 80 deg. in the Valley from 9am to 9pm, high of 90.Dewpoint @72*, you can do the math.
    As I'm a red head who has already lost half an ear to basil cell cancer I am extremely careful and mindful of the sun. I carried a GG carbon umbrella and know for a fact I spent 2 hrs in the sun excluding the time I spent walking around town at 4pm and another 25 minutes for the 1 mile walk out of town to the woods before Alex Kennedy. I suspect in August I had a lot more tree coverage than you did in the spring but I clearly remember how happy I was that there was so much shade, so maybe SOBO is better.

    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    Try doing that hike on a humid, 80 degree day. About half that hike is in the sun and going NOBO, that half is in the afternoon. Not only was it hot, but it was really muddy, it being spring time when I went through. I wouldn't have drank water from any of the sources going across the valley. No doubt full of pesticides.

  10. #10
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    I hiked right through Duncannon and up the hill . Skipped the Doyle. Stayed in the first shelter . Big storm that night , a tree just behind the shelter got struck by lightning. It was still smoking when I passed it In the morning . Fun reading the shelter log of folks stuck in the Doyle vortex.

  11. #11

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    Forgot about this campsite! Thanks for the tip. This is probably what we'll go with. Nothing like a hobo spot to start the trip.

    Quote Originally Posted by Berserker View Post
    If you are starting in Boiling Springs there's always the "Backpacker Campground", which is literally just a flat area in between the railroad tracks and a field about 0.1 miles out of Boiling Springs SOBO on the AT. I stayed here one night and dubbed it the "Hobo Spot". Anyway, if you put in some ear plugs or you sleep really sound it might be an option. Just note that trains come by periodically all night long.

    The other option is the one Gambit mentioned. Just go to Harrisburg and get a cheap hotel.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by chknfngrs View Post
    Forgot about this campsite! Thanks for the tip. This is probably what we'll go with. Nothing like a hobo spot to start the trip.
    Dont forget those earplugs lol
    Trail Miles: 3,715.9
    AT Trips: 67
    AT Map 1 Completion: 1818.9 Springer, GA - Franconia Notch, NH
    AT Map 2 Completion: 263.8 Gaps From GA - PA

  13. #13

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    I stayed at the "Backpackers campsite" once. After the 4th or 5th mile long fright train came by, I got up at 3AM, packed up and started hiking. So did the other half dozen at the site. It was clear there was no way we were going to get any sleep so we might as well get going. You need more then earplugs, the ground shakes. For some reason, the trains didn't start coming until after dark.

    The other alturative is to stay at a motel in Carlisle.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  14. #14

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    A little of pappy's medicine and some tylenol PM to go with those earplugs? It'd be our first night out, which I sleep horrendously anyways, so I don't see it as a total problem. Maybe moderate, but that'd give a really good nights rest the next night. Super thankful for the suggestions (and stories). Early bird gets the worm!

  15. #15

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    Any ideas on shuttle from Duncannon back to Boiling Springs? It’s against the flow, but we’re thinking about driving to Boiling Springs and just start hiking, and at hikes end in Duncannon getting a ride back to our car

  16. #16
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    What's wrong with the campground on the river? $15 for a tent site.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Portie View Post
    What's wrong with the campground on the river? $15 for a tent site.
    Read the reviews.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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