Few wildlife experiences compare with watching a golden eagle cruising over a landscape painted in autumn’s brilliant colors - and there’s no better place to see this than the wind-swept outcrop at Waggoner’s Gap Hawkwatch. Audubon Pennsylvania invites you to visit and enjoy this exciting phenomenon!
Note: The trails to the outcrop from the parking lot are extremely rocky and uneven. Please assure that everyone in your party is confident hiking under these conditions. Wear proper footwear.
Waggoner’s Gap Hawkwatch has been owned and operated by Audubon Pennsylvania since 2001. Its acquisition was made possible by the Erdman Trust and Natural Lands Trust, ensuring that hawkwatching, education and scientific monitoring will continue in perpetuity.
Season: August 1 – December 31
Hours: Open daily, dawn to dusk.
Location: Waggoner’s Gap is located 10 miles north of downtown Carlisle, Pennsylvania on Route 74 on the Cumberland/Perry County line atop the Kittatinny Ridge. (See directions below.)
Best Conditions: Winds from the northwest and south, with higher numbers of birds seen with northwest winds, but closer views with south winds. Raptors tend not fly in fog or when it’s raining or snowing. Hawks are often seen lower in the sky in the morning and late afternoon. A lull usually occurs during mid-day.
The third and fourth week in September is generally when the broad-winged hawks peak in Pennsylvania. Thousands can be seen on heavy flight days. See the Migration Timing section below.
What to Take: Layers of clothing (conditions are often cooler and windier on the Ridge), hat, water and snacks, field guide, binoculars and/or spotting scope, low chair or soft cushion if you don’t like sitting on rocks.
Amenities: There is a portable toilet at the north parking lot. This is the only restroom facility currently at the site. South of the outcrop is the education amphitheater, which offers a level space from which to view the Cumberland Valley. There you can find picnic tables. Follow the wide trail west of the rock outcrop and around the corner to the left. Groups and classes are also welcome to use this space. If you wish to reserve this space, please contact Audubon Pennsylvania at 717-213-6880.
Cautions and Rules: What to Know Before You Go: click on PDF at the bottom of the page.