Outbound Collective logo

Hanging Rock Raptor Observatory

Waiteville, West Virginia

based on 5 reviews



1.93 miles

Elevation Gain

381 ft

Route Type



Added by T Cundiff

Sitting atop Peters Mountain on the Eastern Continental Divide is an old Fire Watch Tower, Hanging Rock. It is an excellent spot with a 360 degree view right in the path of migratory Raptors. Nice hike for beginners and a wonderful spot to view all types of Hawks and Eagles.

Located on Limestone Hill Road north of  Waiteville, WV at about 3800 feet above sea level is an old Fire watch tower. The tower, built in 1956 was abandoned in 1972. In 1983 the US Forest Department acquired this area as part of the Jefferson National Forest. Since then the Tower has become known for its viewing opportunities for spotting migrating Hawks, Eagles, Falcons and Osprey. Various groups and organizations still contribute to keep the "Observatory" in usable condition. There is a port-o-potty at the site as well. 

Beginning at the parking area just off of Limestone Hill Road hikers will find a marked path [marked with yellow tree markings] that will lead you to the Fire Tower Observatory and if you keep hiking eventually to the Appalachian Trail. The hike to the Tower is about 1 mile from the parking area and has some short steep climbs and some long fairly flat spots along a well marked and easily passable trial. At about the mile mark there will be a well marked sign directing you to the Observatory or to the Appalachian Trail. From that sign you have a slightly steep and partly rocky incline to the Observatory. There is a port-o-potty located adjacent to the trail there if needed. The Observatory is open year round and is stocked with plastic binoculars and literature detailing the types of Raptors you could expect to see. There is also a log book for you to post your sightings. Contributors have added paintings of sightings and photos for you to enjoy as well. 

The best opportunity to view birding will be during the Fall . According to the visit WV website   https://visitwv.com/hanging-ro...  , "September is when the heaviest frequency of species will be observed. There are 15 species of raptors associated with the observation area, with records dating back to 1952."

Following is a website that maintains the records of sightings: Hanging Rock Observatory.

To get there:

From Blacksburg, VA: Follow US 460 west for 17 miles. Turn right on Big Stony Creek Rd (SR 635). Go about 22 miles to Waiteville, WVA. (Note: SR 635 becomes Co. SR 17 in West Virginia.

From Waiteville, WV: Take Gap Mills Road (County Route 15) 4 miles to Allegheny Trail parking lot on your left. There is a one-mile hike up to the tower from the parking lot. Total distance from Blacksburg: 43 miles.

The Tower can also be found at:

Tower: 37° 30' 16.1388" north (37.504483)  080° 27' 10.5618" west (-80.452934) 

Read More

Download the Outbound mobile app

Find adventures and camping on the go, share photos, use GPX tracks, and download maps for offline use.

Get the app
Download GPX File


Easy Parking
Family Friendly

Hanging Rock Raptor Observatory Reviews

Great hike. Phenomenal views. 360 degrees of beautiful landscape.

Felt like the wind could knock you down. Very strong.

Steep short hike , great views , lots of bird viewing

Reminded me quite a bit of all the fire-watch towers out west. We don't have many of those here on the east coast (that are accessible) so this is a rare find. Highly recommend this one.

I love this place. It sees amazing sunsets and sunrises, and the precariously placed cabin offers a great space to relax while protected from the elements. While you’ll usually share a sunset here in good weather, most of the time you can expect to find solitude, especially on cold days or early mornings.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


Hike to Wind Rock

Hike the War Spur Loop

Hike to Kelly's Knob via the Appalachian Trail

Hike to the Keffer Oak on the Appalachian Trail

Bald Knob Trail

Hike Barney's Wall