Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on September 19, 2023.
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Harrison Hills Park is a 500 acre park on the edge of the Allegheny River in Natrona Heights. Thanks to its relatively close proximity to the city it is the perfect spot for those looking for a half-day out to explore nature.
On our recent visit we hiked the out-and-back Rachel Carson trail (one of approximately eight trails within the park) which is known for having stunning overlooks of the river and surrounding region.
What You Can See on the Rachel Carson Trail
The Rachel Carson Trail at Harrison Hills Park is a very well maintained trail that offers views of the Allegheny river just outside of the city. Although there are no city views at this one, the trail offers many glimpses of the river, hills, and towns located outside of the city without having to travel a significant distance away.
For the best views, we recommend enjoying this hike in the late fall once the leaves have fallen off the trees. Many viewpoints will be significantly obstructed during the summer months thanks to the abundant foliage which may detract from the experience overall.
Hiking Harrison Hills Park
The out-and-back Rachel Carson Trail is roughly two miles each way and can be completed in under two hours. There are substantial markings on the trail and the path is well maintained, so you should have no problem visiting without any extra information or maps (but the full trail map is available here if you'd like to check them out). The official trail ends at a cell phone tower which is impossible to miss and is a good turning back point.
It is worth noting, however, that the trail can get quite muddy if it rained recently, there are a few very steep (but short) climbs, and there are some components of the trail that have a sudden drop-off without barriers on one side. Be prepared to take extra precaution if you hike this one with smaller children or dogs as a result.
Harrison Hills Park has a half-dozen other hiking trails worth checking out which range in distance from one to three miles (many of which are loops rather than out-and-back trails like the Rachel Carson).
Harrison Hills Park is located off of Route 28 east of Pittsburgh in Natrona Heights.
Harrison Hills Park is also one of the features in the amazing book “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Pittsburgh Edition” that we are working through as a part of this series. If you are interested in day hikes near the city we highly recommend picking this one up!