A 4.7-mile trek in east Appalachia, this loop around the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is an ideal day trip for Philadelphia-area hikers looking to sample brilliant fall foliage or experience the wonder of spring and fall hawk migrations. HawkMountain.org offers useful online resources for learning about hawks and raptors, and tracking the best time of year to view their migration.
After paying the trail fee at the Visitor Center (if applicable), head northwest across Hawk Mountain Road. Kick off the counterclockwise loop by turning right onto the River of Rocks Trail. From here, you’ll descend (steeply at first) about 600 feet to the valley floor below to hike east past several large boulder fields.
At mile 1.5, turn north for a stiff, 600-foot climb up to the top of the ridge. At a junction with the Appalachian Trail, turn left to walk the Skyline Trail west along the spine of Hawk Mountain. Just past the summit, East Rocks offers a fantastic overlook (migration or not).
Continuing west, you’ll tackle a short, doable rock scramble just before the North Overlook (another popular hawk- and raptor-viewing area). Meander to the overlook (and consider detouring up another boulder scramble to the Sunset Overlook), before turning down the Overlook Trail (which passes several more overlooks) and descending back to the Visitor Center.
-Mapped by Penn Outdoors