Hawk Mountain Sanctuary via Skyline Trail

HARD 102 reviews

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary via Skyline Trail is a 4.6 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Kempton, Pennsylvania that features a great forest setting and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible year-round.

DISTANCE
4.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
954 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

hiking

forest

views

rocky

scramble

no dogs

This rugged, ridge top trail follows the spine of the Kittatiney down over North Lookout, crosses East Rocks (a scenic overlook) and meets the AT 2.5 miles from North Lookout. This scenic hike is recommended only for experienced hikers. There is a 10 ft. vertical climb just off of North Lookout. Find the trail by way of the Lookout Trail from the visitors center. The Lookout Trail is blazed in orange, and the Skyline Trail is blazed in blue.

rock climbing
1 month ago

Beautiful but difficult hike. I would call this more rock climbing than hiking. It's definitely not for beginners. Expect to be on all fours for at least half the hike. Gloves recommended. The trail is not very well marked. The views are spectacular and it is a great workout.

hiking
1 month ago

This is an incredible hike, easy 5 star. Their is a lot to experiance and you do not have to kill yourself to see some cool stuff. Check out my full write up along with directions and things to look out for.
http://www.eastcoasthiker.com/trails/hawkmountain

hiking
2 months ago

Part hiking part rock climbing. Views were beautiful and we saw some hawks. The skyline trail is the most difficult and please pay attention...it’s not for beginners. Bolder climbing for quite some distance. We modified route to make it more like 10 miles round trip.

3 months ago

very difficult but absolutely worth it. We took the long way and hiked about 6 miles. lots of rock scrambling! would recommend to experienced hikers.

6 months ago

This is a challenging trail with a vertical rock wall and several near vertical climbs. If that's in your skill set, it is worth it to do this loop.

hiking
6 months ago

Great hike. Nine of us completed it as Charisse described 14 days ago. Had great views and it was a nice workout jumping from stone to stone and climbing steep walls on the Skyline trial. Trickiest was the River of Rocks trail since leaves covered loose stones making the descend slippery.

hiking
7 months ago

Beautiful hike especially during the fall! Started around 6:30am with a view of the sunrise at the south mountain lookout then headed down the River of Rocks trail to the Golden Eagle trail then to the Skyline trail. It took ~ 3.5 hours to complete with stops to soak in the views along the Skyline trail. I would highly recommend this loop if you like to be off of the beaten path and venture from the more heavily trafficked trails!

hiking
7 months ago

This was a challenging yet very enjoyable trail. Lots of boulder and rock climbing. I would recommend gloves and definitely shoes with good tread. We actually crossed over the river of rocks and back because we didn’t see the red marker. LOL. However it added an extra workout. The leaves and weather were spectacular this past weekend and we did see some hawks. Definitely doing this trail again.

7 months ago

A Fun challenging hike . You get the pay off view at the North Lookout. Parking is at the Hawk Mountain sanctuary

hiking
7 months ago

If you’re in the area, this is a must!! Especially during the fall and at sunset. Beautiful!

hiking
7 months ago

My wife and I had been to Hawk Mtn. prior to us deciding that we would hike the entire loop. We are by far not accomplished hikers. I am 10mo. out from double knee replacement surgery and I can assure you that this hike really pushed me to my limits. We started at approximately 10am and started our counter clockwise loop taking the River of Rocks Trail to the Golden Eagle Trail. The grade from the river of rocks up to the top left me thinking that I must be paying for some past transgressions. We then started on the rock/boulder scrambling, hopping, climbing leg of our “hike” that I thought was someone’s very sick joke. After coming to that conclusion I found out that we were only 1/3 the way through our mountaineering 101 day from hell. Thought about just giving up quite a few times before we came the last demented obstacle on the Skyline Trail. The vertical 15-20 foot rock wall.!! After scaling this looming beast we finally had made it to the North look out. We were battered but not totally beaten we made our way back along Lookout Trail to the car at apprx. 2pm. We were a dusty sweaty mess but we did what we set out to do. On to the next adventure....










oh! It may be some time before setting out to conquer this loop again but we will be back!

hiking
7 months ago

question: where do you park? In the sanctuary or at the address listed here (1526 Hawk Mountain Drive)?

8 months ago

Beautiful views!

hiking
8 months ago

If you have wobbly shoes you need to turn around quick

hiking
8 months ago

The whole trail was very fun and great to see, thanks to the reccommendations of the friendly staff.

hiking
9 months ago

In my opinion, this trail is the crown-jewel of trails in Southeastern PA, both in difficulty and in beauty, however, you only get the most bang for your buck if you do the whole loop counter-clockwise.

(1) Start out going on the River of Rocks -- NOT straight to the lookouts -- and do the entire loop. You will encounter some amazing "rock valleys" that PA is famous for and trust me, your ankles will get a heck of a workout trying to avoid being twisted and contorted. The River of Rocks is the only part of the trail that I would highly recommend a good pair of hiking boots or hiking shoes. The first time I did this trail I was wearing minimalist running shoes. It was both a huge mistake borne of ignorance about the trail and it like hell for my ankles. The second visit was done in hiking boots, which was a far better experience.

(2) The River of Rocks will connect with the Golden Eagle trail. Take this trail until you reach the Skyline Trail. This is a rather steep ascent and will tax less experienced and conditioned hikers. You don't need to climb anything yet, but you will probably be tired (depending on your pace) due to the incline. Obviously, this is why I say Hawk Mountain can a great physical challenge, if done in the right way.

(3) Catch your breath for a second and then take the Skyline Trail. The beauty of this part of the trail is that although it is easily the most difficult (and fun) section of the loop, it starts out relatively easy, which gives you just enough time to get a breather before the boulder climbing and boulder hopping begins. The Skyline trail is heckuva fun time, but you need good shoes with treads. Hiking boots aren't necessarily needed here, but hopefully you'll be wearing them because you were smart enough to wear them on account of the River of Rocks. My advice for this section is that it is very important to think about where you are going. There are several boulder formations and luckily there is a recommended path if you follow the blazes on the rocks, but every now and then there are easier solutions if you are take a second to survey the particular formation you have just encountered.

The last stretch of the Skyline trail is straight up climbing rocks and you will no doubt be a little winded, but the reward (the lookout view) at the end is worth it. This steep section is yet another reason why I do not recommend doing the trail loop clockwise. It's not a good idea to be hopping down some of those rock formations. Climbing is harder physically, but less risky.

All that's left is path back to the visitor center, but it's sandy terrain and downhill and you can stop to take pictures of several of the great lookouts that are along the way.

9 months ago

One of my favorite hikes. Awesome for the experienced hiker. Skyline trail is crazy fun if you know what you're doing. Excellent view once you get to the lookout. If you got the right time of year, you will see lots of hawks flying around.
It is also worth mentioning the boulder fields located at Hawk Mountain. If you have the time check them out.

10 months ago

I was familiar with Hawk Mountain, particularly the short lookout hike and the River of Rocks trail. These trails are popular for school field trips. The lookout trail has a little bit of a climb, and the escarpment trail gives you some bouldering; the River of Rocks trail is scenic and a moderate hike. You could do these in sneakers, but after it rained I was slipping a bit in hiking boots.

This time I took River of Rocks to Golden Eagle to Skyline, and it ramped it up to difficult! I was nice and tired by the time I made the final push up to the end of Skyline at South Lookout. Lots of boulder scrambles on Skyline, and a good steady uphill climb on Golden Eagle. I encountered a couple of hawks while I was up on Skyline-- one launched itself into the air from five feet away, which was incredible.

The trails are well-marked, and there's a very clear and accurate map available at the visitor center. Very light traffic on Golden Eagle and Skyline (10am on a damp Saturday). Reasonable amount of parking. Worth paying for, in my opinion.

10 months ago

Thoroughly enjoyed this hike.

hiking
10 months ago

I had requested the staff guide direct me to the most challenging route as the guide I had looked at only listed it as moderate. That obviously had not included the Skyline Trail. So assuming its a moderate trail, I set off on my 92 degree day having eaten only a 100 calorie yogurt and a 20 oz bottle of water for the day. Shame on me. Anyhow, I made the hike counter-clockwise, heading down to the River of Rocks first. After going around both rock formations, I then proceeded to just be in my zone and cruised right past my exit. So I added 2 miles by having to turn around and go back to the Golden Eagle Trail. Unlike me, you smart people will just make the first right onto the Golden Eagle Trail. This is about a long steep path that will slowly suck your will to live, and seems to go on for approximately 800 miles. Then when you get to the top, you will begin your travels on Skyline Trail. This will make you rethink everything you have ever thought you knew about life. All the rock formations that the guide warns you about, seem worse when you are doing them in reverse toward the end of your hike. The Skyline Trail is probably the toughest I have done in the PA/NJ area. That being said, it was awesome. Views are fantastic, the workout is first-rate, and the feeling of accomplishment is great. I would recommend this trail to everyone who is in decent physical shape, and likes a challenge. I would however recommend that unlike me, you do it well hydrated with a good meal of protein in the AM. Definitely do it though. Its the first time I was happy to pay for a trail. Well worth the day. Peace.

hiking
10 months ago

Lots of climbing! Be prepared to climb boulders. Bring bug spray! There are tons of gnats that annoy you the whole time. The views are breathtaking at the top! Watch out for snakes though!

hiking
10 months ago

Get ready, this hike will leave you knackered. Prepare to climb boulders for a few miles if you take the difficult route. But it makes getting to the lookout so much more rewarding!

hiking
11 months ago

It seems the views are more rewarding when you have to work for them this path will make them that much more rewarding. We came at it from the east via the river of rocks trail / golden eagle trail and hiked west to the north lookout. My daughter age 10 made it with only a minor shin scrape but she loved every minute of it, her eyes light up at every vertical climb.

hiking
11 months ago

Great views, fun scrambles and your quads will feel it at the end. At the bottom, I was weak and everyone laughed at me, at the top my quads were huge and I couldn't keep the ladies off me. Quad/10, I'm a changed man.

hiking
11 months ago

Beautiful loop trail, completed in about 3.5 hours. Well marked. Lots of rock climbing / scrambling on the Skyline portion of the trail, some of which is not for the young, faint of heart, or out of shape! North and South lookouts are both accessible from easier trails however, and might be worth the trip alone. The larger loop was great.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Excellent trail & well kept

Friday, May 19, 2017

Had to pay to access the trails, but they seemed pretty well maintained. Nice views, good wildlife.

hiking
Friday, May 05, 2017

Nice hike, great views, fun scrambles throughout hike and Hawk Mountain. Fee to get into Hawk Mountain, but it does go to preservation and research.

hiking
Monday, April 24, 2017

Beautiful!

hiking
Wednesday, April 19, 2017

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