Hikes for Birdwatchers

March 13, 2015
Hikes for Birdwatchers
Fred LabergeThe red-shouldered hawk is one of many raptors native to the eastern United States.

With spring comes the melting of snow, blooming of flowers, and the chirping of birds. But some places are better than others for birdwatchers. Here are six great places to combine a hike with some of the best bird watching in the region.

Acadia National Park  |  Mount Desert Island, Maine
Cadillac Mountain is the highest peak on Mount Desert Island and has five trails leading to the summit, where an expansive view stretches out over the Atlantic Ocean. Hawk Watch, a park ranger-led program, is located 200 feet below the summit during the late summer and fall months, which is peak season for viewing migratory birds. (This program occurs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday, weather permitting). Park rangers are available to help visitors identify various birds of prey, and they track the total seen each day for the entire Hawk Watch season.
Recommended Trail:Cadillac North Ridge Trail (moderate, 4.4 miles round-trip)
Info: Discover: Acadia National Park, 3rd ed. (AMC Books); Acadia National Park

Allen’s Pond  |  Westport, Mass.
Westport boastsone of the most well-known osprey breeding grounds in the country. Eighty pairs of ospreys call this home, and birders can spot them from late April through mid-July. But that’s not all you’ll see here: More than 300 species of birds, including the federally threatened piping plover, can be found at Allen’s Pond. There are three different trailheads, connecting more than 7 miles of trail. With routes tomarshes, beaches, and rocky outcroppings with beautiful panoramic views, thereare bird watching opportunities in every direction.
Recommended Trail: Quansett Trail (easy, around 1 mile)
Info: Mass Audubon

Baker Mountain  |  Lake Placid, N.Y.
The Adirondacks are one of the best birding areas in the Northeast, and Baker Mountain is among the best hikes in the Adirondacks. This short route is easily accessible for hikers of all abilities. Here, you can see nearly 20 species of migrating warblers, which arrive in early spring and head out when autumn arrives, as well as many year-round species, including the black-backed woodpecker and boreal chickadee.
Recommended Trail: Baker Mountain Trailhead (easy, 1.6 mile round-trip)
Info: CNY Hiking

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary  |  Kempton, Pa.
River of Rocks Loop Trail is a great, moderate trail that takes hikers to the summit ofHawk Mountain. As the name suggests, birds of prey are in abundance here. Migration season (approximately April 1 to May 15) and the Annual Autumn HawkWatch (August 15 to December 15) are the peak times to see these majestic birds. More than 15 species, including bald eagles, black vultures, and peregrine falcons hang out here during peak months. During the spring and fall months, park staff is available at the various lookouts at the summit to answer questions and notify visitors of bird sightings.
Recommended Trail: River of Rocks Loop Trail (moderate, 4 miles round-trip)
Info: Hawk Mountain

Great Falls Park  |  McLean, Va.
Great Falls Park has a multitude of birding opportunities along approximately 15 miles of trail. Each Saturday the park hosts a volunteer-led bird walk, starting at 8 a.m. Falland spring migrant birds stop here each year, and it is considered by many a warbler hotspot. There is a visitor center at the park that is open daily and the park itself is open from dawn to dusk.
Recommended Trail: Difficult Run Trail (moderate, 1.4 miles round-trip)
Info: Great Falls Park

Shenandoah National Park  |  Luray, Va.
Take advantage of one of eastern United States’ few National Parks and view more than 200 bird species. The Shenandoahs host dozens of species year-round, including red-tailed hawks and barred owls, making it an ideal birding destination in any season. Turk Mountain Trail’s proximity to Skyline Drive makes it a convenient hike for people of all ages and abilities.
Recommended Trail: Turk Mountain Trail (moderate, 2.2 mile round-trip)
Info: Shenandoah National Park

LEARN MORE
For more spring-related trips check out the Get Out archive.

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Caroline Meleedy

AMC Outdoors, the magazine of the Appalachian Mountain Club, inspires readers to get outside and get engaged. Learn more.