Golden eagles, broad-winged hawks, and great horned owls are just a sampling of the raptors one may see while visiting Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.
“We are somewhere around 80,00 people [visiting],” said Sean Grace, president of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. “Last year was exceptional with COVID, which is somewhat counter-intuitive, but I think a lot of folks were finding their way back to nature.”
With humble beginnings dating back to the Great Depression, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary’s 2,600 acres was the worlds first refuge for birds of prey.
“i love all conservation work and i really love raptors and everything we do around conserving them,” grace said. “ we are grounded in science. Everything we do is science related and then we also have our education program.”
Thanks to generous donors, a state-of-the-art visitors center welcomes you upon your arrival.
Here you can learn more about the sanctuary’s raptors and the role these predators play in the ecosystem.
“you can see what you are maybe going to see out there on the trail,” said rachel henzi, who is visiting from indiana. “and the overlooks! The overlooks are amazing.”
Daniel smith, visiting from coatsville: “anything that i can learn and take home, and share at the dinner table one sunday evening…that would be great.”
If you are wondering if you will see any hawks while at the mountain.
“every year we count somewhere around 20,000 raptors here along the ridge,” grace said.
Smith is visiting because of the stories he heard from his grandmother.
” family has visited it before,” he said, “so it has always been something i wanted to see. My girlfriend and i just wanted to have a quick little hike around to see the natural beauty around the area.”
Once your water bottles are filled up and your souvenirs are bought, the trails await you.
“we have somewhere around 10 different miles, but we were actually just voted the most favorite place to hike in pennsylvania very recently,” grace said. “some of the trails are definitely challenging. There is the river of rocks. There is a reason it is called the river of rocks. You are hiking on rocks quite a bit. There are some beautiful trails and we are connected into the appalachian trail. There is always a lot of wildlife around, so it is a great place to hike.”
There are also handicapped accessible hiking trails in in addition to their backyard garden bird feeding station…so everyone has a chance to soar.
“it is a great way to get people of all abilities out and learning about nature. We did some programs this year centered around and we are going to continue to do that.”
Henzi enjoyed what she saw.
“you can definitely see some vultures that were just having a great time, just chilling,” she said. “so that was pretty great.”
Smith loved the birds, but he was just as impressed with the drive.
“[it’s] just beautiful in itself, so my expectation was pretty much lived out.”