December 2009: Hartwood Acres

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

William Flinn’s family left Manchester, England for Pittsburgh’s Sixth Ward in 1852 when he was barely one year old. Young William left the Pittsburgh public schools at the age of nine to work the city streets. His father had been a small contractor but William eyed contracting on a larger scale. Mixing in Republican politics, Flinn won much of the paving and construction business in Pittsburgh during the exploding industrial times of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Flinn’s daughter Mary used her inheritance to create one of the region’s most magnificent country estates, pivoting around an elegant 16th century Tudor manor house. In 1969, she offered the estate to Allegheny County as a park and just like that the county had a ready-made crown jewel in its park system.

When you bring your dog to Hartwood Acres, you come to walk. There are no recreation or sport facilities on its 629 acres. The manor house, stable and outdoor sculptures are still in place to admire before heading out on the rolling dirt and paved pathways through the wooded countryside. A spiderweb of short and long trails and immaculate bridle paths conspire to provide delightful canine hiking in Hartwood Acres. You can hike with your dog here every day for a month and never take the same route.

For lovers of sunshine begin your dog’s day in the Middle Run Lot and enjoy the macadam paths through manicured fields around the Stage, a concert ampitheatre. You’ll leave most of the trail users (many with a dog in tow) behind if you slip off the main paved paths onto the whimsically named natural trails. The Heebie Jeebie Trail utilizes tight switchbacks to climb a short hill. The Perfectly Good Trail is just that - a shady circuit in a remote corner of the park through a junkyard of fallen hemlock trees.

Take PA 28 North to Exit 5, Etna-Butler, onto PA 8. Turn right in 3/4 mile onto Saxonburg Boulevard. For parking at the mansion continue on Saxonburg for four miles. For trail parking, turn left quickly onto Middle Run Road after exiting from PA 8 and continue to parking before the elementary school.