If you love your hikes to come with a side of history, ruins, and beautiful trails, Dead Man’s Hollow is for you! Read on to learn more about Dead Man’s Hollow Conservation Area!
As always, follow the principles of leave no trace when you're exploring the wonderful trails of Pennsylvania!
Dead Man’s Hollow is a 450 acre conservation area located near McKeesport, PA. The hollow boasts eight miles of trails and is the largest privately protected conservation area in Allegheny County. It used to be an industrial site, which can be seen in the ruins of a former pipe factory.
Trails in Dead Man’s Hollow
Dead Man’s Hollow has eight miles of trails to explore and range from easy to moderately difficult. I think this area has some of the best trail names in Pittsburgh! To look at a map of all the trails in the Hollow, click here for ALT’s Dead Man’s Hollow Trail Map.
Witch Hazel Trail
Witch Hazel Trail is a great 5.6 mile trail that takes you right to the ruins of the abandoned pipe factory. The trail starts out on the GAP (Great Allegheny Passage) bike trail for about a mile.Then as soon as you get into Dead Man’s Hollow, you’ll come up on the abandoned factory. This gave the trail such an interesting (and when hiking solo, shivery) vibe right from the get-go. I did not explore this area in-depth but would like to when I go back with a hiking companion!
Once you go past the ruins, it’s a moderately steep climb up to the top of the trail. There are stairs for part of the way up right past the ruins. These are called the enchanted staircase. This is a curving moss-covered staircase that leads higher up the trail. I bet these would be slippery when wet, so watch your step!
Witch Hazel Trail is marked by red trail markers. Some of these have dripping paint, reminiscent of blood, that add to the spooky feeling! After climbing the stairs, there are some good views of the river that I think would improve in winter when the trees lose their leaves. Close to halfway, the brush gets really thick and there were a couple of downed trees so I would recommend wearing pants.
This trail was harder than Cool Spirit. Because of this, I ran into almost no other hikers along the way other than at the ruins. The best way to access this trail is to park in the Boston parking lot and walk about a mile along the GAP bike trail. Click here to check out the hike on AllTrails.
Headed out for a hike in the Hollow? Don't forget the ten essentials of day hiking!
Cool Spirit Trail
This 1.9 mile trail is a great short trail. It’s got some elevation so it is a moderately challenging hike for how short it is. Most of the hike is within the woods, but at the end of the trail is a little lake! There is a viewing platform to overlook the water, which is really nice.
I can imagine that this trail would be moderately busy on the weekends, but on a Friday evening, I didn’t feel like it was crowded at all.
Accessing this trail is a little confusing and at first, I thought I made a wrong turn into someone’s private drive. However, you are in the right spot. The parking lot is a little gravel lot with a trail map at the trailhead.
Love Dead Man's Hollow? Check out Churchill Valley Greenway, another Allegheny Land Trust managed greenspace near Pittsburgh!
History of Dead Man’s Hollow
There are a couple of different stories about how Dead Man’s Hollow earned its ominous name. One account states that there was a murder that took place on its land late in the 1800s but other say the name comes from a body found hanging from a tree that was never identified. Either way, super creepy!
The Hollow also contains ruins of an old pipe factory. One of the workers at the Union Sewer Pipe Factory was killed in an elevator accident and is said to be a ghost in the Hollow. The factory itself burned down in 1925.
The ALT often hosts paranormal hikes at the Hollow around Halloween to really lean into the spooky legends of the area.To learn more about events at Dead Man’s Hollow, visit the Allegheny Land Trust website.
Looking for more hikes south of Pittsburgh? Check out Mingo Creek County Park in Washington County, PA!
How to Access Dead Man’s Hollow
Dead Man’s Hollow Conservation Area is located near McKeesport, PA. The first trailhead is located at 600 Scene Ridge Rd, McKeesport. The lower trailhead is located off the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) trail a little less than a mile from the parking lot at 1906 Donner Street, McKeesport.
Overall, Dead Man’s hollow was a lovely green space that was light on visitors. There are many trail options that offer everything from easy to more difficult hiking. The trails feature overlooks, ruins, and a ton of nature to look at. I’d highly recommend it as a great place to visit near Pittsburgh.