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5.10.2020

Otto & Magdalene Ackermann Reserve: A Waterfall, Hikes, Forests, Wildflowers, & More Near Pittsburgh

The Otto and Magdalene Ackermann Reserve is a beautifully forested tract that is maintained by the Westmoreland Land Trust. It is an unlikely forest hideaway that is located in the developed urban and suburban sprawl of North Huntingdon, North Versailles, Irwin, and Trafford, along the right-of-way of the old Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line in Westmoreland County.
It started out as plot of land that was owned by Otto and Magdalene Ackermann. They were German immigrants and emigrated to Western PA in the 1920s. Otto was a trained electrical engineer and worked at the legendary former Westinghouse Plant in East Pittsburgh. They initially lived in Wilkinsburg and moved out to Irwin. They slowly purchased the land that became the reserve and greatly appreciated its natural beauty. The land had a forested tract and a former quarry on it, and is immediately adjacent to the old Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line. The family of five kids preserved the refuge and added land to it, even after Otto passed in 1964 and Magdalene passed in 1991. The family treasured this parcel it and opened the land to the public in 1997. They donated the land to the Westmoreland Land Trust to continue this preservation.
The preserve is one of the most accessible places in the immediate Pittsburgh area to take in some short hikes of varying levels, to see a stunning display of spring wildflowers, and to see beautiful forest. It made our list of best hotspots to see wildflowers in Pennsylvania. In the spring, the wildflowers are so abundant that it almost looks like there's been a fresh coat of snowfall on the ground.
The hikes have some decent elevation change along a small tributary, with a small waterfall, that empties into Brush creek. At this point, the tributary is unnamed, but they filed to name it Blue Dell Run, after the old pool and drive in theatre complex that operated under that name up on the Lincoln Highway and Route 30 corridor. The small tributary was the water source for that locally famous former pool.
This is a lovely place to get a nice little hike within the Pittsburgh area off of Route 30/the Lincoln Highway. The coordinates take you to the parking area. It is very easy to miss the entry way into the property, because it is located in what is basically an empty lot between two homes. Once you get beyond the backyards of those homes, the preserve opens up.

Coordinates:
40.360944, -79.744291

For more information and background about this cool place, check out the website for the Westmoreland Land Trust.
 

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