Schenley Park has been around since 1889, when Mary Croghan Schenley donated over 300 acres to the City. Lucky for us, expansions have grown it to 456 acres.
It’s a busy park with July’s Vintage Grand Prix sprawling across the Bob O’Connor Golf Course and running the only such race on USA city street.
The Oval Sportsplex ranges from ice skating, swimming, soccer, tennis, track and don’t skip the cross-country trails.
We go for the hiking and the great view of Pittsburgh from Flagstaff Hill.
A little history
I love the rebellious story of Mary Schenley, heiress to her mother’s fortune, for whom the regular rules for the rich of the mid-1800s seem not to have applied. She was 15 when she ran off with a swashbuckling British Captain almost three times her age. The marriage lasted—bringing them seven children. Whew.
Although she didn’t live in Pittsburgh again, it’s thanks to Mary that we have this incredible park to enjoy.
In the autumn, the colors of the trees creates a smorgasbord of delight. Having spent 20+ years away from Pennsylvania, the smell created by trampling on fallen, crunchy leaves drifts me back to childhood. We’d make piles to dive into, outline lawn-homes with leaves as room markers or bury each other under them. These activities kicked up the earthy, sometimes dusty smell of multiple kinds of tree leaves blending together.
Trails we’ve meandered include:
Upper and Lower Panther Hollow Trails – 1.5 to 2 miles that snakes around and can be easy or hard, depending which direction you’re walking.
Bridle Trail’s 1.3 miles half circle reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock’s profile. It’s so named for the former stables and horse riding that took place in the part, ending in calamity with a fire in 1971.
Junction Hollow Trail skirts the western edge of the park and is 2.5 miles. There are other trails: Steve Faloon Memorial, Locust, and Lake.
More places to walk or bike ride include the roads: Overlook, Serpentine, Barlett, Darlington, and Greenfield.
The Westinghouse Memorial and Pond was dedicated in 1930. The sculptures were designed by Daniel Chester French and include one entitled, “The Spirit of American Youth.”
These were a tribute to George Westinghouse and show a mechanic and an engineer.
It’s an attractive place to sit and ponder as you enjoy the Lily Pond.
Flagstaff Hill lets you gaze across the city from Greenfield to the Pitt and Carnegie Mellon campuses. At the foot of the hill, across from Phipps Conservatory is a 1927 monument commemorating our flag. Stop and read.
For refreshments, pop into the 100+-year-old Schenley Park Cafe and Visitor Center at Panther Hollow Road and Schenley Drive.
Afterward, take a walk down the street, passed the Phipps Conservatory and Flagstaff Hill to Schenley Plaza.
The Plaza, a former parking lot, is a nice hunk of green turf located in front of the Carnegie and Hillman Libraries, near Pitt’s Cathedral of Learning and just down the street from the Phipps Conservatory. It’s a nice place to grab a refreshment or see what of any number of events happen to be going on that weekend.
It even contains a fountain in tribute to the heroine of our story, Mary Schenley.