Hawk Rock

Hike to Hawk Rock’s scenic in Duncannon for amazing views of the Susquehanna River and surrounding area!

Hawk Rock views, human for scale
Table of Contents
- Why Hike Hawk Rock
- Where to Park for Hawk Rock
- Tips for Hiking Hawk Rock
- Best Time to Visit Hawk Rock
- What to do Near Hawk Rock
- FAQs about Hiking Hawk Rock
- What to Pack for Hiking Hawk Rock

Why Hike Hawk Rock?

Hawk Rock is one of my favorite hikes in Central Pennsylvania. It’s short enough to do with limited time but challenging enough to get your heart pumping. This hike also has the best scenic vista in the area. Because it’s located on the Appalachian Trail, it’s also a great place to run into hiking enthusiasts, many of whom have walked there from Georgia or Maine! 

Read on for more information and tips about hiking Hawk Rock! 

As always, follow the principles of leave no trace when you're out exploring! Pack out all trash, leave wildlife alone, and generally leave it better than you found it - for more information visit the Leave No Trace Center.

Where to Park for Hawk Rock

There are two parking lots for this hike. If you want to follow the AT the entire time, choose the smaller parking lot located at 99-37 Inn Rd, Duncannon, PA 17020 (or GPS coordinates 40.38174704148191, -77.02940204424249). There’s enough room for about four or five cars here, depending on how well people park.

However, there’s a larger parking lot and more popular parking lot located at Watershed Dr, Duncannon, PA 17020 that has a flatter trail that meets up with the AT. Once you get close, you’ll see signs directing you to the trailhead, which shares a parking lot with the recycling center. Benefits of using this parking lot include a parking lot and a bulletin board with information about the hike. I’d recommend parking here. GPS coordinates for this parking lot are 40.383429240939385, -77.0332212743752.

Tips for Hiking Hawk Rock

Hawk Rock is a relatively straightforward hike to navigate. Follow the white blazes to the scenic overlook and then come back the way you came for a 1.7 mile round trip hike. 

If you want a Hawk Rock Trail map, check out AllTrails or the Visit Hershey Harrisburg website. While AllTrails has two options for this hike, I don’t recommend the loop. The back half is pretty rocky and can be very slippery. The only pro to doing the loop is if you’re doing it at a high traffic time and want to avoid some folks coming up the narrow section of stairs. 

Don’t let the short mileage fool you. This is not a hike for beginners. It has a decent amount of elevation gain and is very rocky. I don’t recommend trying this on a wet day as the rocks can be very slippery. Please evaluate your hiking ability with a critical eye before attempting this trail. 

Looking for more great hikes in the area? Check out my guide to the Best Hikes Near Harrisburg!

Best Time to Visit Hawk Rock

This is a popular hike, so go early. When I tackled this trail on a rainy Saturday morning in May, I had the overlook to myself for almost ten minutes. This was a completely different experience than I had on a busy summer afternoon where there were people waiting in line to take photos at the overlook. 

I have not visited this hike in the fall but imagine it is incredible with the foliage. However, the downside is that there are probably fewer thru hikers, which is my favorite part of hiking on this section of trail. Both times I’ve hiked this trail, I’ve chatted with AT thru-hikers about their journey (and my favorite thing to discuss – their trail name!). 

Waited about 10 minutes to be able to take this picture on a sunny summer afternoon in July 2023
Looking to hike more sections of the AT in Pennsylvania? Check out Peter’s Mountain Loop [COMING SOON]

What to Do Near Hawk Rock

If you’re coming off trail hungry for more activities near Duncannon, check out these awesome things to do after hiking Hawk Rock!

Eat at the Doyle Hotel

The Doyle Hotel, an Appalachian Trail institution, is over 100 years old. This hotel has been serving thru hikers for a very long time! It’s under new ownership (as of 2021) who are working to maintain the hotel’s legacy. Order the Southwest burger – you won’t regret it! A proud moment of my 2024 is impressing Donald, the hotel’s bartender, by eating the entire thing in one sitting. 

Grab a beer at Lindgren Brewery

Lindgren Brewery is located right next to the Doyle Hotel in an old bank building. If you love a repurposed building, you’ll love checking out the old bank vault and safety deposit box room. Patrons can become members of the brewery, called “Keyholders” and receive a key to an old bank safety deposit box to get coupons and deals. As a hiker, I loved the trail themed beer names, including Livin’ Along the AT!

River Overlook

If you haven’t had enough great views of the Susquehanna, check out the scenic river view located between the Hawk’s Rock trail head and Clark’s Ferry parking area. This is a great place to sit and eat a little snack while looking at all the river traffic. To visit, use the following address: 14 Newport Rd, Duncannon PA 17020.

Hike More 

If Hawk Rock hasn’t tired you out, check out Peter’s Mountain. This 3.5-4.2 mile loop also includes portions of the Appalachian Trail and has additional scenic views. It is very rocky and I would say that it is harder than Hawk Rock.

Looking for more things to do near Hawk Rock? Check out my guide to the best outdoorsy weekend itinerary when visiting Harrisburg!

What to Pack for Hiking Hawk Rock

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While this is a short hike, I always recommend planning ahead and packing more than you think you need, just in case. Keep an eye on the weather and bring more layers than you need, just in case conditions change while you’re on trail.

Great place for a snack if you have it all to yourself

FAQs about Hawk Rock

Is Hawk Rock on the Appalachian Trail?

Yes, Hawk Rock is located on the Appalachian Trail. Those white blazes run from Georgia to Maine, going right through central Pennsylvania!

How long does it take to hike Hawk Rock? 

This hike takes about ninety minutes, depending on how long you stop at the top for pictures and snacks. This may seem like a long time for a hike that is less than two miles, but it is steep. 

Are dogs allowed on Hawk Rock trail?

Dogs are allowed on the trail to Hawk Rock. Remember to keep your dog leashed at all times and clean up after them. Because this trail is rocky and has a lot of climbing and one way passes, please assess your pet’s abilities before bringing them on this hike.

Is Hawk Rock a good hike for children?

With its steep drop offs and large amount of climbing, I would only recommend this hike for older children or children with hiking experience. Please keep an eye on your child while hiking the trail and be sure to educate them on the principles of Leave No Trace!

Looking for hikes that might be more dog or kid friendly? Check out all the state parks near Harrisburg that offer hikes and activities for all users!

Loved visiting Hawk Rock? Let me know in the comments!

Updated May 17, 2024

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