Every autumn, New Jersey plays host to the raptor migration, one of nature’s most mysterious and magnificent events. Starting in late August, peaking in September and October, and fading into November, birds of prey sweep down from northern skies, riding thermals and updrafts on outstretched wings. One of the best places to view the great autumn migration is atop Raccoon Ridge, a peak in the Kittatinny Mountain Range. In fact, raptor counts here are only 10 to 15 percent below those at Hawk Mountain, Pennsylvania, a world-renowned raptor-watching spot. But, while Raccoon Ridge boasts many hawks (over 15,000 in a typical migration), human crowds are smaller. You’ll rarely run into the binocular-wielding mobs encountered in Pennsylvania.
This 5.8 mile out-and-back hike along the Appalachian Trail (AT) to Raccoon Ridge is not just a climb to a birder’s paradise. It rewards walkers year-round with a sweeping 360-degree view of the Delaware River Valley and the broad, fertile farmlands of the Great Valley of the Appalachians.
© Glenn Scherer/Appalachian Mountain Club Books. All Rights Reserved.