Hiking at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
July 24, 2013

One of my family’s favorite places to hike with our kids is Hawk Mountain Sanctuary located near the Appalachian Trail in Kempton, Pennsylvania. Founded in the 1930’s by a bird conservationist named Rosalie Edge, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary was established to prevent hundreds of hawks from being shot and killed for sport. Mrs. Edge opened the sanctuary in hopes that people would learn to appreciate these birds of prey she was trying to protect.

Open year-round to the public, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary offers amazing views no matter what the season. August 15 through December 15, however, is the best time to view the great annual migration of hawks, falcons, and eagles. During this time, an estimated 18,000 raptors migrate over the area. While many of the raptors are easily seen from the lookout points, it is always good to have some binoculars on hand.

Lookout Trail, which is 1 mile long, requires some climbing on rocks and boulders to get to the different viewing points, but the sights from this trail will not disappoint. Be sure to assist young hikers while climbing on these rocky hills and ridges, as they can be tricky to navigate. Lucas, 8, loves hiking this trail and finding a huge boulder at one of the lookout points where he can sit and eat a snack, while searching for raptors above. Miles, our toddler, remains in the carrier when we are at Hawk Mountain so that I have my hands free for balance. For a longer and more complicated hike, River of Rocks Trail is 4 miles long. There is a vertical descent of 600 feet and it is quite rocky and rough. Hiking this trail would be better with older children. The Appalachian Trail and Pinnacle Trail are also accessible from points at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.

Just outside the visitor center is a native plant garden, where you will find butterflies, hummingbirds, wild flowers, and a pond of croaking frogs. The visitor center is open year round and has several educational displays and hands-on exhibits. Hawk Mountain Sanctuary offers events throughout the year, many of which are family- and child-oriented. The Irma Broun-Kahn Education Building, which opened on July 13, is just down the road from the visitor center. This newly renovated building is where some of the programming and retreats will be held. For more information, go to www.hawkmountain.org

Dogs are not allowed at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. Picnic tables are located near the visitor center and amphitheater.    

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