Looking for trail close to Pittsburgh? Churchill Valley, a former golf course, is fifteen minutes from downtown Pittsburgh. Read for more tips about hiking this unique space!
As always, follow the principles of leave no trace when you're exploring the wonderful trails of Pennsylvania! Pack out all trash, stay on trail, and leave it better than you found it. For more information, check out the seven principles of Leave No Trace.
Hiking at Churchill Valley
Note: Allegheny Land Trust recently acquired this greenspace. The group has planned a lot of restoration and maintenance that is not complete. Be careful of any trails that look like they’re crumbling or bridges that have collapsed.
I loved hiking here, even if the space needs some work. It was amazing to see how quickly nature can quickly consume evidence of humanity. The country club hasn’t even been closed for a full decade and it’s almost impossible to tell that it was once one of the most popular golf clubs in the area. This gave the whole park an apocalyptic feel. If you want to feel like you’re in a zombie movie, this is the trail for you!
This is a great space for local walkers, birders, and hikers. The trails were not particularly crowded on a weekday afternoon and were mostly populated by locals who seemed to be frequent users. I would probably not recommend this trail for running unless you’re familiar with the area. We saw one runner, who seemed to be frustrated at navigating the confusing trails and kept having to backtrack.
Love wandering around ruins taken over by nature? Check out Dead Man's Hollow Conservation Area, also run by the Allegheny Land Trust. These trails feature the ruins of an old pipe factory.
Trails at Churchill Valley
All the trails in this space are either old golf cart paths or “community forged”. This means that people who have been going to the greenway have used those same paths over and over so that there is a path there. The ALT does not maintain these trails.
AllTrails can be used for reference, but should not be used as a guide. The current AllTrails entry tries to take you over a bridge that has collapsed on the northwest side of the park, after you cross the wooden bridge that goes over Beulah Road. I’d skip this section altogether and stay on the southeast side of Beulah, as the wooden bridges definitely need some TLC. The ALT has long term plans to replace these bridges.
For a map of the trail at Churchill Valley, click here.
History of Churchill Valley Greenway
The Churchill Valley Greenway is located on what used to be the Churchill Valley Country Club. The country club closed in 2013 after going bankrupt. According to Local Pittsburgh, the abandoned property was used as a set for “The Last Witch Hunter” in 2014 as it was falling into disrepair. In 2016, an auction was held to sell off the contents of the clubhouse.
In 2021, the Allegheny Land Trust (ALT) acquired the land of the former country club, creating a 151-acre conservation site now known as Churchill Valley Greenway. The site has 111 acres in Churchill and 40 acres in Penn Hills. The goal of the ALT in the permanent protection of the Greenway is to “preserve natural scenic beauty, provide a place for close-to-home outdoor recreation and environmental education, and mitigate downstream flooding”.
Headed out for a day hike? Check out my list of the Ten Essentials for Day Hiking!
Frequently Asked Questions about Churchill Valley
Where is the Churchill Valley Greenway?
Churchill Valley Greenway is located in the municipalities of Churchill and Penn Hills on the site of the former Churchill Valley Country Club. The greenway parking is located at 800 Beulah Rd, Pittsburgh, PA 15235. There is a small, gravel parking lot at this address. Please don’t block the drive or other cars.
Are dogs allowed at Churchill Valley Greenway?
Yes! Dogs are allowed, but must remain on leash. There is a sign that is not particularly well placed stating that dogs should not drink or play in the water (the sign was part of the way through the trail…after my dog went in the water). However, I saw many park users letting their dogs frolic in the many streams of the greenway.
What are the future plans for Churchill Valley Greenway?
As mentioned, the greenway is a new space to ALT’s portfolio of land. The group plans to replace the bridges over Beulah Road, reforest some of the open areas, and remove the abandoned mine drainage from the stream among MANY other improvements. Click here for a comprehensive (and honest, fascinating if you’re into that sort of thing) report on the short and long term improvements proposed to improve the space for visitors.
How can I help contribute to the ALT’s preservation of the greenway?
There are many ways you can help the greenway! If you’re local, consider joining a volunteer day. If you’re able to help financially, click here to donate to the Allegheny Land Trust’s conservation efforts.
Have you visited Churchill Valley yet? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!