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Valley News Dispatch

Land donation closing gap for eight-mile trail between Hartwood Acres and Allegheny River

Mary Ann Thomas
| Monday, June 11, 2018, 9:51 p.m.
Chapelier LLC donated 6.33 acres along Saxonburg Road in Indiana Township to the Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy.
Chapelier LLC donated 6.33 acres along Saxonburg Road in Indiana Township to the Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy.

It soon will be possible to hike eight miles from the Rachel Carson Trail at Hartwood Acres in Indiana Township to the Allegheny River in O'Hara.

A donation of land almost completes the link to blaze a trail between Hartwood Acres and Beechwood Farms, a 1 14-mile critical link that will help expand the North Hills hiking trail network, according to John Stephen with the Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy.

The developer, Chapelier LLC, donated a 6.33-acre parcel stretching along Saxonburg Road in the southwestern corner of Indiana Township to the Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy. The parcel is a utility corridor, long and narrow.

The purchase is part of the Conservancy's “Many Communities — One Trail” program, an effort to connect destinations and assets throughout the North Hills and elsewhere with walkable routes.

The connection will make Beechwood Farms, the home of the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania, a destination where walkers can grab a beverage, have a seat, access restrooms and look at the avian traffic frequenting the bird feeders.

“We're very excited,” said Jim Bonner, Audubon executive director. Beechwood Farms and Hartwood Acres, which share a common family origin, were previously connected by a bridle path, he noted.

The eight-mile trail from the Rachel Carson Trail at Hartwood Acres in Indiana Township to the Allegheny River in Fox Chapel and O'Hara includes the following mileage, according to Stephen:

• 1 12 miles from Rachel Carson Trail to the south end of Hartwood Acres, Indiana Township

• The new link is the 1 14 miles from Hartwood Acres to Beechwood Farms in Fox Chapel

• Three-fourths of a mile through Beechwood Farms, which was secured by the Fox Chapel Land Conservation Trust

• 4 12 miles on the Squaw Run Trail to the Allegheny River

The trail needs easements of roughly 10 acres to complete the eight-mile wooded corridor, according to Stephen.

“You will have the woodlands of Beechwood Farms and, then, walkers will enter into the stream valley of Squaw Run and that gives you a flavor of what our landscape was 150 years ago,” Stephen said.

The Trails Conservancy is best known for sponsoring the one-day, 34-mile-long endurance hike, the annual Rachel Carson Trail Challenge.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4691, or via Twitter @MaThomas_Trib.

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