Hawk Mountain is a hidden gem in Pennsylvania. This private nature sanctuary provides fantastic vistas of the surrounding area and some of the best birdwatching in the state. On a good day, there are dozens of species of birds of prey to see, from golden eagles to broad-shouldered hawks.
The first viewpoint, South Lookout, is up an ADA-accessible trail that is wonderfully groomed and well maintained. Here, viewers sit at 1,280 feet and have great views of the area.
The best spots to watch for birds and enjoy the quiet valley are on the Skyline Trail. Follow the Lookout Trail for 1 mile, ascending to the North Lookout, and take in the huge views. This is a crowded spot, and it doesn't provide the best place to watch for birds. From here, take the Skyline Trail, making sure to stop at the various viewpoints, most notably East Rocks. The beginning of Skyline Trail is treacherous; it is a steep scramble down the face of North Lookout. Make sure to wear proper shoes and keep your hands free as you go.
Continue down the trail to the best spot in the sanctuary, East Rocks. East Rocks is usually devoid of other visitors, and it is the best-kept secret of the park. Birds will fly overhead, often circling to check you out. Sit in silence and take in the breathtaking spectacle. Listen closely to hear the occasional flapping of the birds' wings, which is astonishing.
Continue to the Golden Eagle Trail and descend into the woods. At the second trail marker for the River-of-Rocks Trail, switch over and follow the aptly named River of Rocks, a giant boulder field with a subterranean stream caused by glacial movements thousands of years ago, back to South Lookout.
This loop is about 5.5 miles and ascends about 600 feet. Count on it taking three to four hours to complete, including the time to admire the views and the birds. There is a $9 trail fee for non-members of the sanctuary. Members can visit for free!