The trail to Hawk Rock makes for an interesting little hike out near Duncannon, PA. It’s about a mile long and gains approximately 750 feet in elevation, you can probably walk it in an hour if you only go out and back. Taking the loop will take a little longer due to a slightly rougher non-blazed trail.
If you haven’t been here before I recommend that you start at the North-West parking lot and head South-West directly to Hawk Rock so you can get a feel for the more gradual portion of the trail. If you have to park in the South-East parking lot I still recommend taking the same gradually sloping route along the Appalachian Trail. Once you get to Hawk Rock and take in one of the top ten most beautiful scenic vistas in Pennsylvania you can decide whether or not you want to traverse the more rugged and steeper trail down the mountain. If you choose to hike the full route you just need to continue to the top of Cove Mountain ridge and then leave the AT to head left (North-East) along a fairly obvious unmarked trail. Hiking along this portion of the trail is pretty level but once you get near the Cove Mountain Duncannon Overlook the trail gets steep rather quickly.
If you do go to the Duncannon Overlook you will be rewarded with a fuller view of the Susquehanna River Valley. The most dangerous part of the trail occurs about 100 feet after the overlook so if you weren’t comfortable getting to that point you might want to consider heading back the same way you came. The danger is due to a narrow path with a steep drop-off and very few handholds so a walking stick is a minimal safety precaution and I wouldn’t walk this route when it’s wet or icy. Once you have passed the scary part, the trail down is rocky, steep and full of small switchbacks until you meet up again with the AT. From there you can turn left (West) to get to the North-West parking lot or you can turn right (East) to go to the South-East parking lot.
While this trail is called the Hawk Rock Trail, I haven’t seen very many hawks while there but I’ve seen plenty of Crows, Turkey Vultures, Pileated Woodpeckers and more notably, a few Bald Eagles. The section of trail along the ridge offers a chance to see white-tailed deer if you’re lucky, quiet enough and your timing is right.
Hawk Rock Vista Pics
- Nearest Town: Duncannon, PA, USA
- Nearest Park: Pennsylvania State Game Land #170
- Dog Friendly: Yes