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Hiking Through the Montour Woods Conservation Area in Allegheny County

While I love visiting PA’s State Parks and other large outdoor lands, I also really like finding small parcels of preserved land that are off the beaten path, and the Montour Woods Conservation Area in Allegheny County is one such spot.

This 320-acre park is located about 25 minutes west of downtown Pittsburgh in Coraopolis, PA and near the city’s airport. It has been managed by the Oak Hollow Land Trust since 1993 and features 10 miles of hiking trails adjacent to the popular Montour Rail Trail.

Bridge crossing Montour Run in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania
There is a lot of beauty to find in Montour Woods.

Within the Montour Woods Conservation Area, you’ll find a small waterfall, a small cave, and even a former NIKE missile site (though it’s just a concrete pad today). These features make this a fun spot to explore while in the area and are all marked the conservation area’s map, which make them easy to find.

During my visit, I decided to do a short hike on the northeastern end of the area that allowed me to see several highlights and get a great feel for this special space.

Where to Start Your Hike at Montour Woods

Trailhead for the Montour Trail in Coraopolis, PA
A great place to park is this trailhead for the Montour Trail.

I started my hike in the large parking area for the Montour Trail along Hassam Road at the following coordinates: 40.491583, -80.151000. This hike also passes by another small parking area for the conservation that you could also park at (Coordinates: 40.490972, -80.153667).

I suggest parking at the rail trail lot because, while it does add a few hundred yards to the hike, there is more parking here and, if you struggle at all with hills, you could do an essentially flat walk from this lot to and from the waterfall and cave.

It’s worth noting, however, that at the conservation area’s parking lot  you can borrow a free blaze orange vest to keep you safe during hunting seasons.

[Click here for information on how to use the coordinates in this article to find your destination.]

Hiking at the Montour Woods Conservation Area

A trail marker in Montour Woods in Allegheny County Pennsylvania
A trail marker in Montour Woods.

To start my hike from the rail trail parking area, I crossed over Hassam Road and followed the Montour Trail for about 100 yards until a wide trail veered offer to the right. This trail takes you into the Montour Woods Conservation Area.

Shortly after turning away from the rail trail, you’ll find a bridge over Montour Run. Not only are the views from this bridge quite scenic, but it also has a bit of movement to it. In fact, it reminded me of a swinging bridge, even though it’s not one. 

If you start your hike from a different area, this bridge is worth a quick detour to see.

Wooded trail leading to a bridge in the Montour Woods Conservation Area in Coraopolis, PA
Approaching the bridge over Montour Run.

Once across the bridge, take an immediate left for the short walk to the cave.

This cave is located in a sheer rock wall and was carved out at some point in the past as it seems pretty clearly man-made.  That being said, I couldn’t find any history about it, so I can’t say what it’s purpose may have been.

Still, it’s a fun spot to check out and make sure to pop inside for a quick look at the inside.

Entrance to a man-made cave in Montour Woods near Pittsburgh PA
Don’t miss this small cave when exploring Montour Woods.

To reach the waterfall in Montour Woods, head back to the bridge and continue following the trail away from Montour Run.  For the fastest and easiest route to the falls, take a left at the trail split that soon comes up.

After a few more minutes of walking, the small waterfall will come into view.

This waterfall is only about 3-4 feet in height, so it’s not as large as many other waterfalls near Pittsburgh. However, the slate rocks of the stream make this quite a picturesque spot and the sound of the falling water is quite inviting. A nearby bench is a perfect spot to sit and enjoy the beauty of this area.

Waterfall on a wooded stream in Montour Woods Conservation Area in Allegheny County PA
The waterfall in Montour Woods isn’t large, but it is quite beautiful.

After enjoying the waterfall, you could certainly retrace your steps back to your car because, while the rest of the trails in Montour Woods are beautiful, you’ve already seen the main highlights.

However, for those looking to explore more, you can opt to hike some of the other 9+ miles of trails within this conservation area.

Two trails diverging in Montour Woods in Coraopolois, Pennsylvania
The trails in Montour Woods are general wide and easy to follow.

For me, I opted to continue passed the waterfall and do a loop along the Meeks Run Trail that lead me through some beautiful woods. The trails here are, for the most park, wide and well-marked, which makes them an excellent choice for hikers of all experience levels.

Hiking beyond the waterfall leads to a bit of elevation gain, but nothing that should pose much trouble for most visitors. Those looking for easier trails will want to stay on the green trails while those looking for a bit more of a challenge will want to check out the red trails on the park’s map.

Crossing a bridge in Montour Woods in western Pennsylvania
Crossing the bridge.

The only negative of this piece of preserved land is the frequent planes that fly rather low to the ground as they take-off and land at Pittsburgh International Airport. While I found the low-flying planes quite interesting, they do take away from the peacefulness of the space.

Still, while the Montour Woods Conservation Area certainly isn’t among PA’s most incredible natural landscapes, for those looking to get away from the crowds and enjoy a peaceful walk in the woods (minus the airplane noise), this is a really great spot to visit west of Pittsburgh.

Find out more about Montour Woods, including a trail map, on the conservation area’s website.

Looking for more places to visit nearby? Check out the covered bridges of Washington County, Frankfort Mineral Springs Falls, and the waterfall in Settler’s Cabin Park.

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