Barking Slopes Conservation Area is a rather small park located near Oakmont and New Kensington, PA- about 40 minutes east of Pittsburgh.
The park is roughly 150 acres and is managed by the Allegheny Land Trust as a conservation and biological diversity area due to its unique geological features.
For the casual hiker, this one is not much different than other conservation areas in the region. But the park offers a nice hike out in nature with potential wildlife spottings all the same.
What You Can See at Barking Slopes Conservation Area
Like most conservation areas, Barking Slopes isn't home to many unique sights like you may expect in other parks, but is simply a beautiful natural area just east of the city.
For those who take the vigorous hike from Coxcomb Hill Road, you'll be rewarded with a view of the Allegheny River and Springdale. But the trail is pretty intense and not recommended for most visitors (more on that below).
For those who take the easier hike on the lower trail near Barking Road, you can see bedrock, the forested valley, foundation remnants of old houses that are being reclaimed by nature, a few rather large boulders, and flora and fauna, of course.
During my early spring visit, I saw a number of beautiful wildflowers, but virtually no animals to speak of (that being said, I heard a wonderful number of birds chirping in the trees- they were quite hard to spot though).
Hiking at Barking Slopes Conservation Area
There are two main trails at Barking Slopes Conservation Area- one that starts on Coxcomb Hill Road and one that starts at a larger parking area on Barking Road as mentioned above, and each trail is about three-fourths of a mile each way.
The trail that begins on Coxcomb Hill Road (above image) is a rather difficult hike on a steep trail that goes up and around a Duquesne Light substation to get to a viewpoint. Posted signage is minimal and, to be quite honest, the trail is quite difficult to the point that we don't even recommend unless you are among the most adventurous of hikers (the return hike down the hill was not enjoyable at all and I hike regularly).
The trail that begins on Barking Road is quite nice (below image). It is mostly flat, well blazed, and, apart from some trees that may be down on the trail and require climbing over/under, makes for a relatively easy hike. There are also a few low lying areas that can be muddy if it has been raining recently as well.
Both trails are out-and-back and do not connect up with each other, but on the lower trail that begins on Barking Road you can choose to walk back along the road/railroad track if you want to do something a bit different- but there isn't much to see if you do this apart from slight glimpses of the river and an industrial complex in the distance.
Overall, Barking Slopes is a nice conservation area that is a great place to visit to be alone in nature. You may see some wildlife, or you may be like me and not see any at all. But regardless you'll have a great day out on a short hike!
Barking Slopes Conservation Area is located on Barking Road near Oakmont / New Kensington, PA.