True North Blog

Pittsburgh’s Newest City Park

Pittsburgh's Newest City Park

It seems that no matter how long that I have lived in Pittsburgh, the city and its region continues to surprise me.  When I originally moved here, my plan was to stay just two years so that I could complete graduate school.  Then skedaddle.  Twenty-two years later, I am still here.  And I am still making surprising discoveries that remind me of how glad that I am that I stayed.

Case in point: Emerald View Park.  Pittsburgh’s newest addition to its family of parks.

Even though Emerald View wraps along Mount Washington for the whole world to see, I only just discovered the park this past Sunday thanks to Jennifer Brown and David Bennet of Venture Outdoors.  Jen and David are, like me, members of the Venture Outdoors “Trip Leader Council,” which is comprised of eleven volunteers, with varying skills and specialities, who work to help develop and promote programming for the organization for the benefit its almost 10,000 members.  Whereas I focus on backcountry activities, Jen and David focus on frontcountry hiking, much of it in and around the city.  The two had asked me to join them on Sunday while they explored Emerald View for the first time in preparation for an upcoming training class that they are planning.

As David explained to me, creation of Emerald View came about rather accidentally.  A few years back, property developers were implementing plans to construct condominiums along the steep, forested, slopes around Mount Washington.  When some local residents realized what was happening, they rallied the various neighborhoods to enlist the help of City leaders, both from government and the non-profit sector, to formulate an alternative plan to construction.  Their idea?  Create a public easement to conserve and permanently protect the green space on Mount Washington.

So, starting in 2008, the Allegheny Land Trust started the process of purchasing 24.8 acres of land whose slopes overlook the Monongahela and Ohio Rivers, as well as Saw Mill Run (which flows South and West of Mount Washington).  This acreage, then, created the needed easement to guarantee that the slopes will remain permanently in their natural state.  The result is a terrific example of a partnership between the private and public sectors.

Already trails and other typical park features are being developed.  The trails are not yet complete, and some are not linked, but I encourage you to not let it delay your visit as it will allow you a chance to explore, not just the woods, but many of the neighborhoods that you have probably never before seen on Mount Washington (beyond the typical Grandview-type visit).  You will also likely be surprised by how much wildlife you will encounter in an otherwise dense urban center — Jen, David, and I saw both a deer (on the extremely steep North slope) and a hawk yearling.  Honestly, I forgot a few times that I was even in a city.

For more information about Emerald View, click here.

And if you would like to get a jumpstart on your own visit there, please check out the map that David created of our visit.

Erik Kulick leaning aginst wall with True North badge on blue shirt

About the Author

Erik is the founder of True North Wilderness Survival School. He is a police officer, EMS provider, a Wilderness EMT, and a Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine. He has been featured in national and international media, including CNN, the Associated Press, and Backpacker. To learn more about Erik, visit him on LinkedIn and be sure to follow him on Facebook and YouTube.

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