Settlers Cabin used to be known as the place to take your road biking friends who want to try MTB but are afraid of the Dr. J Trail. This system had only one minor climb and very few technicalities. However, the park has undergone a renaissance of sorts and now boasts more than 9 miles of singletrack, with three brand new trails and more being planned.
The trail system can be ridden in sections or as a continuous loop with access from the Algonquin, TeePee, Iroquois, Arrowhead and Gilbert Love shelter parking lots, as well as Greer Road and the old Park office.
The Teepee Trail, AKA the Blue Loop
follows an old jeep line (hard pack dirt, no gravel) until it meets the Blue-Green Connector
. There is a T where the trail to the right continues the Blue Loop
up to a parking lot, but the trail to the left takes you to some more singletrack awesomeness. The Blue-Green Connector
follows the back on the other side of the valley that you crossed on the Blue Loop
. This section crosses through tighter singletrack with a few sweeping open-field crossings.
The Blue-Green Connector
will turn into the Purple Loop
if you do not turn. At the start of the Purple Loop
, there will be a steep short climb on the right, which is the end of the loop. If you continue straight instead of taking the climb, you'll circle around a hill on your right. When you get back to a T, you take a right and start climbing. This climb and descent will drop you back onto the Blue-Green Connector
, which you can reverse track and head back to your car. Ridden as an out and back loop, this trail offers beginner riders an opportunity to get some miles under their tires without fear of getting in over their heads.
For those craving a little more adventure, the 2.73 mile Red Trail
is the place to ride. Leaving from the Gilbert Love shelter parking lot, the trailhead is at the end of the parking lot and marked with a sign showing all of the trails in the park. Once on the trail, you begin a 75-foot climb up to 'Settlers Peak
', the highest point in the park on the trail system.
From there, you enter the woods and begin a 2/3-mile descent to Greer Road, featuring some tight, technical turns and a few obstacles. Once you reach Geer Road, the Red Trail
continues straight ahead, entering an open field, before dropping 55 feet into the valley below. Riders can get a lot of speed on this section as it is wide open and generally downhill with good sight lines and excellent drainage.
The Red Trail
continues through an open field to a T intersection with the .6 mile Lake Loop
trail going right and the Red Trail
continuing left. Riders wishing to take the Lake Loop
will be rewarded with a series of technical descents, many obstacles along the valley floor, a mud-bog and then a grueling climb back to the Red Trail
just beneath the power lines. Riders who skip the Lake Loop
will turn left, then drop down a bit of a hill before reentering the woods and eventually meeting back up with the Lake Loop
From the power lines, the Red Trail
dives back into the woods again, where it meets with the newest section and weaves its way back and forth along Pinkerton Run, with two good drops into stream valleys and a healthy climb on the other side. The Red Trail
eventually dead-ends onto Greer Rd, which can be used to access other trails in the park.
From Greer Rd, the Stone Crest or Yellow Trail
is accessed about 30 feet above where the Red Trail
dumps you out. This trail is very steep and requires a good bit of strength to climb. The connector comes to a T where riders can do the 1 mile Stone Crest (Yellow Trail
) loop. This trail runs parallel to both Greer Rd and the Purple Loop
, offering a more technical challenge for skilled riders including several obstacles and difficult climbs.
The Valley trail (Green Loop
) can be accessed from the TeePee trail or from the Purple trail and comprises its own 1.2-mile loop. From the tennis court, the Valley Trail is .71 miles and features two technical drops into the Waterfall Valley. Riders can cross the waterfall and ride the upper Valley trail as a small loop, or they can turn left and ride into the Valley.
Archaeologists from Carnegie Museum of Natural History helped identify the origins of the 1780 log cabin that gives Settlers Cabin Park its name. The themes of the 11 groves and shelters are Indian names: Algonquin, Seneca, Apache, Tomahawk.
The region was famous for its high output of shallow coal and was a maze of abandoned open and back-filled mines when the county secured it. Active wells and exposed oil and gas lines were initial problems, but the grading and reforestation of the land have restored it to rolling wooded slopes and meadows. At 1589 acres, this park was intended to be the largest of the regional parks and still has a wild, rugged, and unexplored quality not found in the other parks. Located between the Greater Pittsburgh International Airport and Pittsburgh, this large 1589 acre park will see development in the future as population west of Pittsburgh increases.