Taking to the trails

Snowdrops in the spring

So many people watch for crocuses to herald the spring, but for me it is the snowdrops in Bird Park that lift my spirits. Somewhere around the end of February, they peak through the leaf layer and the snow like tiny forest fairies.

They aren’t along the obvious paths near the parking areas off Cedar Boulevard or Beadling Road, rather they’re tucked in the ivy across the footbridge and along the stream, where the park parallels Youngwood Road. Look for them sheltered near the trunks of trees.

I’ve hunted for them each year since I first discovered this patch of wonder, regardless of the winter weather, because somehow in my head spring can’t come without them.

There are other treasures along Mt. Lebanon’s trails that are enjoyed by children, hikers and dog walkers, like the firepit (big enough for a birthday party) tucked in the bottom third of Robb Hollow Trail. Here, reservations aren’t required, and good friends of mine are kind enough to keep it clean. So please use the trash can they’ve provided or–better yet–carry your garbage out with you.

The top of the trail, with its maze of switchbacks along the hillside overlooking the stream, is a quiet, lovely space where you are almost guaranteed to see a deer. The wildflowers here around Mother’s Day are a particular joy.

You can gradually wander all the way down to the stream that meets Painter’s Run Road and if you aren’t inclined to climb back up, which is a daunting proposition, Crust is a great place to meet a friend and buy them lunch for picking you up from your morning hike.

One of my many walks on Lebo trails

The best access and parking for Robb Hollow Trail is at the bottom of Driftwood Drive, especially after the Public Works construction altered (and in places eliminated) the lower portion near Cedar. I don’t recommend trying to come up from the parking lot at Public Works as it’s overgrown and fragmented.

Sometimes people ask me what they should wear while hiking and I always recommend bright colors for hunting safety, sturdy shoes for good footing and layers you can pull off as you get warmer. Otherwise, all you need is a spirit open to hunting for happiness in the little flowers tucked along the trail.

I’d particularly love to know the story behind this hidden gem. Whose dog is this? Why is he here? What is his name? We must know.

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