Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is a wildlife conservation habitat located along the northern border of Berks County in Kempton, PA. This vast area encompasses more than 2,500 acres and is home to a wide variety of plant and animal life, including the hawks that give the sanctuary its name.
Every autumn, more than 20,000 birds of prey pass over the sanctuary. Migratory data on the raptors has been collected continuously since 1934.
Located just 40 miles north of Reading, this historic nature reserve offers many educational opportunities if you’re curious about local wildlife as well as plenty of outdoor activities for everyone to enjoy.
History of Hawk Mountain
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is the oldest and largest member-support raptor conservation organization in the world.
In the 1930s, the land was acquired by conservation activist Rosalie Edge who established the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association. The sanctuary officially opened its doors in 1938 and quickly won international praise for its dedication to monitoring and protecting raptors and other species. The early efforts to safeguard wild bird populations in Pennsylvania paved the way for many conservation movements that followed.
Since opening, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary has continued to grow and evolve through public outreach programs, government partnerships, and member support. Today, the sanctuary is a widely visited nature destination known for its deep commitment to wildlife research and education.
Although the sanctuary is day-use only, it's open to the public year-round. There's a small entrance fee that helps support the sanctuary's programming.
Things to Do
As a premier destination for birding in Pennsylvania, exploring Hawk Mountain's trail system is the best way to watch birds travel along the Appalachian Flyway, especially in the fall during the annual hawk migration. Because of migratory patterns, check the sanctuary’s website for information about the raptors species you might see when you visit.
If you enjoy hiking, you'll find miles of paths to explore. The Hawk Mountain trailhead offers a variety of blazed trails for all skill levels, including Silhouette Trail, an ADA-accessible trail that meanders through the mountain between the Trail Head and South Lookout.
At roughly 1,500 feet above sea level, you can enjoy pristine views of the Central Appalachians from the sanctuary's numerous overlooks.
One of the sanctuary's most popular activities is the Hawk Watch program. This conservation initiative monitors the annual migration of different raptors, namely hawks.
On weekends, you can participate in close-up encounters with birds, talk to wildlife experts, and learn about raptor migration patterns and behaviors. In addition, the sanctuary offers guided bird walks, bird-banding demonstrations, interactive workshops, and ranger-led activities for students of all ages.
Programming changes regularly, so check the sanctuary's calendar to learn more about what you can do on your next visit.