This is the premiere established hawk watching location in Tennessee. The site is the only hawk lookout in Tennessee that has ever been monitored for the entire migratory seasons of both spring and fall. Prior to the establishment of this lookout, many Tennessee lookouts were monitored only mostly in September. Soddy Mountain has been monitored 1993-2005 for fall hawk migration from September to early December. Spring hawk migration monitoring has been less frequent and in the period February through April.
The hawk lookout is located on the eastern face of Walden's Ridge (the Cumberland Escarpment) at the eastern terminus of Jones Gap Road atop a bluff overlooking Highway 111 and the Tennessee River Valley to the east. The hawk lookout proper is level ground, but the bluff is 75 feet high. The hawk lookout location is state-owned land, and there are currently no restroom or eating facilities nearby.
Broad-winged Hawk, Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, and Black Vulture are the five most common species in fall.
Golden Eagle, Rough-legged Hawk, and Peregrine Falcon are some of the species that are seen more infrequently.
Take Hwy 27 North from Chattanooga for approximately 20 miles. Hwy 111 will split left and take Hwy 111 to the top of mountain. Jones Gap Road will be your first left once atop the mountain. Follow Jones Gap Rd. for 1.9 miles until the main road bares right and Jones Gap Rd goes to the left with a Dead End sign. Do not continue to go right on Burchard Rd. After making the left off the main road while staying on Jones Gap Rd, go 0.2 miles to the dead end. Park on side of the road, climb a 6 foot bank and you are there.
Best Months and Seasons for Viewing
September through early December are the best times for watching fall hawk migration, while April and May are the best months for spring migration viewing.
Best Time for Viewing
Early to mid-morning are the best times for hawk watching, although afternoons can be very productive too. One to two days after a cold front can usually be a very good hawk watching time.