Using Pleasant Valley Park
Pleasant Valley Park's 262 acres of woodlands, open fields, hilltops and remote valleys provide excellent areas for many outdoor activities year round. Anyone who enjoys being outdoors in a natural area, is likely to find something to like about Pleasant Valley Park.
Bird / Nature Watching
If viewing wildlife and birds in their natural habitat is something you enjoy, you need to visit Pleasant Valley Park. The park is filled with a wide variety of animals, as can be seen from the Species List-Fauna page, Species Observation Reports and videos that have been made out in the park by Bill Powers of PixController.
Butterflies and insects are easy to come across as you are walking along, especially in the areas where the wildflowers are in abundance. A wide variety of birds can be heard around the park, and are best seen with binoculars, as they are usually high up in the sky or in the trees.
But, you have to walk slowly and quietly in order to see more than just animal tracks, when it comes to the many mammals that call Pleasant Valley Park their home.
Note: The PixController videos below were taken using stationary cameras with Motion Detection Sensors.
Flying Squirrel (by PixController)
Long Tail Weasel Video (by PixController)
Ruffed Grouse (Images by Bill Powers of PixController)
White Tailed Deer (Buck) Video (by PixController)
New Discoveries in PV Park
by Dick Byers
Conservancy Corner Article
April 4, 2007
"Pleasant Valley Park is turning out to be one of the most interesting places in Murrysville. Ever since the Westmoreland Bird & Nature Club conducted a winter ecology outing there in early February, people have been returning to check out its other features as spring unfolds."
Visit the link above to read the whole article.
Fields, Flowers, Woods
Pleasant Valley Park contains large open areas that were formerly farm fields or pastures. These fields or meadows are starting to re-grow, but still allow for viewing wildflowers that grow in sunny areas. There are also many flowers and plants that prefer the wooded trails, like the Trillium that can be found along several of the trails in Pleasant Valley Park. However, this spring wildflower is a favorite of the white-tailed deer, and tends to be eaten off as soon as it blooms. If you are lucky, you might find some hidden among the Mayapples. In the late summer and fall, the park meadows are filled with a wide variety of wildflowers, including black-eyed susans, coneflowers, butterfly weed and goldenrod. Visit the Species List-Flora page for a listing of other plants that can be found in Pleasant Valley Park.
The park also contains several Paw Paw trees which are native to this area but fairly rare. The 4-H Conservation Club and the PV Park Volunteers obtained permission to put up Tree Identification Signs in the park. One of these signs is marking the Paw Paw trees in the park. To find the sign and the trees, you need to walk up Hank's Trail from the top side of the parking lot. Go across the farm road and into the meadow above the parking lot. The trail continues into the woods and across the gas right-of-way. A little further down the trail, as you cross over the first small bridge, you will see the Paw Paw Tree Identification Sign and Post on the right side of the trail.
There is a large stand of native Dogwood trees growing on a West facing slope of former pasture. To view the Dogwoods when in bloom during the spring, go past the gate at the end of the parking lot and take the old farm road toward the ponds. You can either follow the farm road down the dip in the road or take Hank's Trail as it loops around between the upper and lower ponds. After the dip, continue on Hank's Trail as it heads out into the field that is to the right of the farm road. The Dogwoods are on the slope between Hank's trail and Pleasant Valley Road.
A majority of the hiking trails travel through the woods.
Peace and Quiet
Pleasant Valley Park's large size makes it a great place if you are looking for peace and quiet. There is an isolated, fairly steep-sided valley East of the center of the park. When you are in this remote valley, chances are you will only hear the sounds of nature unless a plane flies overhead. To hike to the valley, start following the old farm road from the parking lot. At the first fork in the farm road, go to the right and follow the road as it goes downhill. You will pass over the Red Oak Trail as it crosses the farm road. Continue on the farm road through the meadows. Eventually you will come to another fork in the farm road, take the left fork and by continuing to go down-hill, you will come to a small stream in the valley. You can cross the stream and walk up or down the valley. Stop and enjoy the peace and quiet.
We would recommend returning by the same route, as any trails beyond the farm road that you come across in this area are "unofficial" and can lead to private property. If you would follow the streambed itself upstream, you should eventually come across a trail sign for the Red Oak Trail, which will lead you up the hill and back to the farm road. Turn right on the farm road to return to the parking lot.
You can also continue across the farm road and follow Red Oak Trail up into the woods. At the end of the Red Oak trail is the Chestnut Trail. Turning right will take you to the end of Chestnut Trail where it meets Hank's Trail. Go left and it will return you to the parking lot. However, if you do decide to go right, it will also take you back to the farm road, and as long as you go left after crossing the bridge, you will also end up at the parking lot.
If you would decide to take the Red Oak Trail down to the stream, be sure to turn right at the bottom of the hill and go downstream, as upstream is private property.