Return to Harrison Hills

It’s been a year since our last visit to Harrison Hills Park in Natrona Heights.  Tucked away in one of the state’s most populous counties, Harrison Hills offers some truly challenging hiking.    

I learned first hand that hiking this park is especially challenging after completing a 20 mile run!  Your legs are tired and your feet are numb, your thought processes are a little fuzzy and you are tempted to give in to exhaustion.  You just have to toughen up, push through the discomfort, and keep moving.  You will certainly be better for it the next day!

The trails in Harrison Hills bring visitors past streams, waterfalls and ponds.  The eastern end of the Rachel Carson Trail, a 35 mile path across the county, begins here.

We began where we left off last time, shortly after the Watts Memorial Overlook on the Carson-Scouts Overlap.  This time, we followed the Rachel Carson Trail, which crosses a stream, via a wooden arch bridge above Rachel Carson Falls.

Like most of the trails in Harrison Hills Park, the Rachel Carson Trail ranges from moderate to difficult with many strenuous uphill climbs.  Fallen trees and dense sections of mud add a degree of difficulty.

Rachel Carson Falls is a dramatic waterfall.  Diminutive in stature, this waterfall compensates with charm.   We took our time here to take it all in.

After crossing Rainbow Bridge, the trail ascends up a rustic staircase and continues winding uphill as it overlooks the stream below.

As you make your ascent, you will notice the damage storms have wielded.   Water runoff has eroded the hillside and giant trees have toppled to the ground.


Indeed, parts of this trail rival an obstacle course!

Anyone who has braved the uphill climb, deserves a seat on one of the benches beside the pond!


Circle the pond and the trail resumes its shaded pathway through the forest.

We followed the Rachel Carson Trail to the park’s border and back, until it intersected with Scouts Trail.  We followed Scouts Trail to Spicebush Trail, and crossed the road to follow Creekside Trail.  In keeping with tradition, we concluded our hike at the Watts Memorial Overlook, which offers a scenic view spanning three counties.

I’ve officially covered 24 miles in the scope of one day and I’m that much closer to being ready for the Pittsburgh Marathon this month!  Nenikekamen!

To read about our past adventure in Harrison Hills Park, check out:

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