Neville Woods Conservation Area
Located on Hilltop Road in Collier Township up the road from the municipal building near the Nevillewood community, this 42.5 acre property, named “Neville’s Woods” because of its proximity to both the Neville House and Nevillewood, is crisscrossed with paths and wide grass trails with gentle slopes.
This unique parcel of land, known for its pristine wilderness, is bordered by Robinson Run, a major tributary of Chartiers Creek.
The Panhandle Trail is just on the other side.
The new pedestrian bridge provides easy access to the Panhandle Trail between Walkers Mill and Rennerdale. A trailhead is also located on Hilltop Road.
When these rolling hills were cleared for agriculture over a century ago, this tract of land above Robinson Run was too steep for growing crops. Now many of the farms are slated for development. Houses are being planted instead of crops.
But this piece of wilderness remains: a mature hardwood forest with shrubs and groundcover that you won’t see in the overgrazed Allegheny National Forest.
A botanist examining the property stated, “This parcel is perhaps the best example of a mature hardwood forest that I personally have seen in the Pittsburgh region”.
The botanist found it covered almost entirely by an impressive stand of oak and mixed hardwood forest, with trees up to 120 feet in height and 2 feet in diameter. At least four species of oak, American beech, tulip tree, sugar maple, elm, black cherry, and large-toothed aspen are found in this forest, which has grown undisturbed for over half a century.
The understory beneath the forest canopy contains small trees and scattered shrubs, including witch-hazel, hawthorns, and hornbeam. Mature grape vines snake up towards the canopy.
Groundcover includes asters, wild ginger, violets and pipsissewa.
There are also grasses, sedges and at least two species of fern. Lycopodium, or ground pine, covers the forest floor like a soft, mossy carpet.
Jack-in-the-pulpit and trillium bloom in the spring. The abundance of native species and the near absence of non-native invasive species on this tract is remarkable.
Located in the heart of the Pittsburgh metropolitan region, in an area of rapid growth and expanding development, these acres of high-integrity forest are ideal for conservation.
Formerly known as the Bible Walk, trails on the Collier land now provide the perfect “Nature Walk” for area residents. Chartiers Nature Conservancy’s acquisition of this property in June of 2002 was made possible in large part by a $275,000 Keystone Land Acquisition Grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (PA DCNR). It marked the culmination of a three year effort to secure funding for the $550,000 purchase.