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Mount Peter Hawk Watch Trailway

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Mount Peter Hawk Watch is located in the southern corner of Orange County.

The Mount Peter Hawk Watch Trailway is a small 5-acre parcel on Mount Peter, a high point along the Bellvale Mountain Ridge in the Town of Warwick, Orange County. This is one of several famous hawk watches in the northeast and is the third oldest in the country. This scenic overlook provides an expansive view of the Warwick Valley through which record numbers of migrating raptors pass during fall migration. It is part of a network of hawk watches stretching from Florida to Canada. The land was saved from development when acquired by the DEC in 1990.

Recreation

Mount Peter Hawk Watch is unique because of its small size, providing access for a scenic overlook, raptor viewing and birdwatching. Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and hiking are available nearby since a short spur trail (750 feet) on the Mount Peter Hawk Watch connects to a beautiful section of the nearby Appalachian Trail. The lookout platform is 150 feet from the parking area. Please stay on trails which allow for public access through nearby private lands. Please do not trespass on nearby private land.

Camping, Hunting and Trapping. Due to its small size and proximity to trails and homes, camping is not permitted on the property.

Geo-caching is allowed although caches must be marked with the owner's contact information and may not be placed in dangerous or ecologically sensitive locations.

Facilities. A 12-foot by 6-foot two-tiered viewing platform sits atop a rock outcrop at the edge of two viewing strips of low growing grass and shrub vegetation.

Stargazing. This site is often used for stargazing and to watch eclipses.

Tips for Using State Forests

Anyone enjoying this property must observe the rules which protect both the visitors and the forest environment. Exceptions to State Forest rules for this particular property include no camping, no hunting and no trapping.

History

Two people standing on the viewing platform at Hawk Watch Trailway

The property is named after the Mount Peter House, opened by Michael Batz in 1890. The 'Peter' was derived from Peter Conklin, the former landowner. In time, the mountain itself came to be known as Mount Peter. The Valley View Inn occupied part of the property until it was destroyed by fire in 1986.

The Mount Peter Hawk Watch, begun in 1957, is one of the oldest hawk watches in the country. Records of migrating raptor species and their populations passing through the area have been kept for over 50 years. Broad-Wings, Sharp-Shins, Red-Shoulders, Goshawks, Kestrels and Golden and Bald Eagles are among the more than 16 hawk species sighted. Long term trends, monitored along with sightings from other hawk watches from Florida to Canada, show not only the vitality of the hawk species, but also the overall health of the environment. Since 1971, the area has been run by various bird clubs and nature associations, including for 35 years by the Highlands Audubon Society. The property was acquired by the DEC in May, 1990 with funding from the 1986 Environmental Quality Bond Act (Trailways Category).

Driving Directions

The Mount Peter Hawk Watch is just off Route 17A between Greenwood Lake and Warwick. Take the NY State Thruway (87) to the Harriman Exit, go through the tolls, take Route 17 South to 17K west (Total distance about 20 miles).

Field Notes

This small property provides scenic views of the Warwick Valley, a fantastic migratory seasonal raptor and bird watching area, and access to the a beautiful stretch of nearby Appalachian Trail passing through undeveloped ridge lands to the north.