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Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

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Lehigh Valley’s Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is a wild bird sanctuary located along the Appalachian flyway. It’s an outdoor destination for hikers, birdwatchers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

Hawk Mountain is a great place to learn about raptors and see them in person. Trails and lookouts offer beautiful scenery and access to nature every day of the year. RaptorPedia is an always-in-progress resource for learning about raptors at Hawk Mountain and around the world.

Hawk Mountain straddles the Kittatinny Ridge or Blue Mountain, a 300-mile-long, prominent ridge that extends from 60 miles north of New York City to 20 miles west of Chambersburg, PA. The Kittatinny is the southeasternmost “corduroy hill” in the Appalachian Ridge-and-Valley Province of eastern Pennsylvania. Birds drifting south from Canada, New England and New York, slope soar the length of the ridge, saving energy on their journey south. 

Visitors can also enjoy an 8-mile trail system, scenic overlooks, lush Native Plant Garden, weekend programs and a Visitor Center. Trails are rugged but a new Accessible Trail to the nearby South Lookout ensures access for all. Click here to download the official Trail Map. Browse upcoming events.

Tips for Hiking

  • Trails are very rocky and thought to be unsuitable for children under 6.
  • A walk to the North Lookout is suggested for the first-time visitor and any other inexperienced hikers. This walk will take at least an hour, usually longer, if you stop at overlooks along the way.
  • Visitors who carry a pack-in, pack-out lunch and eat at North Lookout tend to have a full and enjoyable afternoon. If visiting in autumn, bring binoculars or plan to rent them at the Visitor Center.
  • Hawk Mountain is typically 10 degrees cooler on top of the Mountain than in other areas, you’ll want to check the forecast with this in mind.
  • Always overestimate the amount of time it may take you to complete your walk so you are finished well before dusk. Double the amount of time when hiking with children.
  • Be aware of your noise level if traveling with a group so as not to disturb others or ruin an opportunity to spot wildlife.

Hours and Fees

Trails open dawn until dusk, daily. No winter maintenance provided. For visitor safety, all trails are closed on the first two days of Pennsylvania deer season. The Visitor Center is open daily 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. except Sept. – Nov. it’s open daily 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Holiday hours are observed.

Hawk Mountain is not a state or federal park, but a non-profit with a raptor conservation mission. All trail fees support the raptor conservation mission, including critically needed scientific research, international training and public education programs, and helps to maintain the Sanctuary. Adults are $9; seniors $7 and children $5. No pets are allowed on the Sanctuary.

Four Seasons Four Experiences

Visitors can visit each season and experience a little different visit each time. Here are some tips on what makes each season, a little different.

Winter

  • Find peace and solitude.
  • Lowest visitation of the year.
  • Have the Lookout all to yourself.
  • Be cautious: Trails are not winter maintained.
  • Consider cleats following ice storms.

 Spring

  • Wonderful time for hiking in cool, comfortable weather.
  • Watch for returning songbirds and small mammals.
  • Listen for tree frogs and spring peepers in the pond.
  • Enjoy the changing blooms in the Native Plant Garden.
  • Spring Hawk Count held April 1-May 15.

Summer

  • Go hiking in the cooler mountaintop weather.
  • Enjoy the peak of butterfly diversity (up to 40 species).
  • Check out the pond for newts, frogs and painted turtles.
  • Stop by the Visitor Center to see hummingbirds at the feeder stations. 

Autumn

  • Most popular time on the mountain.
  • Don't miss the famous autumn migration.
  • Peak of Broad-winged Hawk migration is mid-September.
  • Greatest hawk diversity is during October.
  • Fall color peaks during late October.

History

As the world's first refuge for birds of prey, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary has a dramatic history that started during the Great Depression with amateur ornithologist Richard Pough. In 1929, Pennsylvania's Game Commission placed a $5 price tag on the goshawk's head—a grand sum at the time. Two years later, while Pough was a recent college graduate living in Philadelphia, he became one of a growing number of conservationists opposed to the widespread movement to eradicate wildlife predators, including predatory birds.

Pough heard of the place locals called "Hawk Mountain" and decided to visit. There he saw gunners stationed, shooting hundreds of passing hawks for sport. He returned to gather the carcasses lying on the forest floor and take photographs. Pough's photographs were eventually seen by a New York conservation activist, Rosalie Edge.

In 1934, Mrs. Edge came to Hawk Mountain and leased 1,400 acres. She installed a warden on the property, a New England bird enthusiast named Maurice Broun, and Maurice's wife and bird conservation partner, Irma Broun. The shooting stopped immediately and the next year, Mrs. Edge opened the Sanctuary to the public as a place to see the beautiful but persecuted birds of prey. She purchased and deeded the 1,400 acres to Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association, incorporated in 1938 as a non-profit organization in Pennsylvania.

Amenities

General
  • ADA Compliant:
  • Group Friendly (10+):
  • Green / Sustainable Practices:

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