The Cave and Nike Missile Site at Montour Woods Conservation Area

Posted By Jeremy in Explore

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The Montour Woods Conservation Area is a 300 acre park operated by the Hollow Oak Land Trust in Coraopolis, PA with over 10 miles of trails.

Accessible in just a short drive from downtown Pittsburgh, the park offers a great opportunity to get out in nature with a few unique sights to check out!

What You Can See in the Montour Woods

Waterfall at Montour Woods

The trails at Montour Woods offer a wonderful day out with a number of things to see beyond a standard woods hike.

Two of the most popular sights at the conservation area are close to the Hassam Road parking lot and can be reached within just a few minutes of hiking. The first is a very small waterfall (just a foot or two tall), and the second is an unusual looking cave that appears to be carved out of a sheer rock face.

Cave at Montour Woods

From there, those who make a big loop through the Powerline and Hemlock Trails can detour to a former Nike Missile Defense site.

This site was home to anti-aircraft missiles during the Cold War to help protect the region from any attack (that thankfully never happened). The site is decommissioned now and is simply a large area of pavement that is being slowly reclaimed by nature (and in September was home to a number of wildflowers).

Nike Missile Site in Pittsburgh

In any case, being at the former Nike site feels historically significant even if there is nothing there to truly see- so if you are in the mood for a further detour take a walk over to this one.

One of the more interesting things about the conservation area beyond the sights, to us at least, is that we saw more mountain bikers than hikers on the trails. The fair changes in grade make for a great option for those who want to take a ride, and is a great option to consider if you have your own set of wheels!

Hiking at Montour Woods

Trail Markings at Montour Woods Conservation Area

The trails at Montour Woods are somewhat close to our ideal setup but have some nuances to keep in mind. They are wide in most of the park (except for perhaps the Powerline Trail), generally well maintained, and there are a number of trail options to explore in a 2-3 hour outing that hits most of the park.

There are three trail types available in the conservation area, and they are color coded green (easy), red (intermediate), and orange (connector to community trails leading out of the park). These can be found on the park's map, here.

Crossing a Stream at Montour Woods

Generally speaking, we felt that the green trails had more signage than the red trails overall, but most of these were only at dedicated trailheads with only minor color notifications on the ground (via spray paint) to indicate which section of a split to follow.

There are no dedicated blazes in the conservation area beyond these, and we definitely got turned around once or twice- mostly around the switchbacks at the Hemlock Trail as we thought we hit the switchback occurred earlier than it actually did.

Safety Vests at Montour Woods Conservation Area

It is also worth noting that you will have to cross a stream or two here, so waterproof shoes are highly recommended (water was ankle depth during our visit). Likewise, the area is open for hunting periodically throughout the year and orange vests are provided in a container at the parking lot on Hassam Road- be sure to grab one.

Overall, the Montour Woods Conservation Area makes for a great morning or afternoon out. There are a number of unique features to see and a relatively easy set of trails to walk on. Just be sure to pay attention to the markers as a few sections can be confusing at times and you'll be good to go!

Montour Woods Conservation Area is located at 1875 Hassam Road in Coraopolis, PA. A park map can be found here.

On your way back into the city, head over to downtown Coraopolis for tacos at La Poblanita or a beer at Cobblehaus Brewing!

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