Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve offers sweeping views of Lake Superior and gorgeous autumn color. But most visitors keep their eyes on the skies.
This 235-acre parcel — at the highest point along the eastern section of Skyline Parkway in Duluth — hosts one of nature’s greatest parades each fall, the mass migration of birds of prey winging from their summer breeding grounds as far north as the Arctic to their winter homes as far away as South America. Because most prefer to fly over land rather than open water, the spectacular array of raptors hug the western shore of Superior. That pathway makes Hawk Ridge one of the best places in North America to witness the annual show.
Nearly 2,500 majestic bald eagles, 46 powerful peregrine falcons, 128 fish-loving osprey and more than 5,000 sharp-shinned hawks and have flown by this time around, as of Sept. 21. To that, add swarming kettles of broad-winged hawks; viewers have spotted 32,348 of this bird as part of the Fall Raptor Count, hosted by Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory, the education and conservation organization that cares for Hawk Ridge.
Weather permitting, Hawk Ridge staff are on hand daily, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., through Oct. 31 to answer questions. A wooden observation deck is closed to visitors this year, but there is a nearby hawk-watching site, and hiking trails lead to others. Bring your own binoculars. For more information on raptors and to plan a visit, go to hawkridge.org.