About a 30 minute drive from downtown Pittsburgh, Hartwood Acres Park is a picturesque 629-acre estate situated among Allegheny county’s beautiful rolling hills. It’s horse country out this way, and you’d never know you’re practically a stone’s throw from the bustle of city life. I visited Hartwood Acres for the first time this April, and was quickly and pleasantly surprised by the woodland/fairytale/magical vibes it evoked. From its meticulously manicured gardens, to its straight-outta-Game-of-Thrones stone mansion, visiting this lovely and unique Allegheny County Park feels like stepping into a different time. The best part for me, though? Discovering a sweet little pet cemetery tucked away near the Hartwood Mansion garden. I wasn’t expecting to find it, which made it all that more special.
The focal point of Hartwood Acres is its historic stone mansion. I began by talking a nice long stroll around the mansion itself to take in each angle and admire all the little details. As I wound my way around back toward the large fenced-in garden—pausing to have a moment with a patch of bluebells—I noticed some headstones peeking out from a cluster of boxwood hedges. Naturally, I made a bee line for them.
To my delight, a small pet cemetery came in to view. Thoughtfully placed in a neat row with dated and personalized stone markers, a multi-generational pack of four-legged family members are at rest: Max, “Loyal Friend.” Queenie, “A Hound.” Pal, “Valiant.” Teddy, “Son of Max.” Jerry, “Faithful.” And, simply, Cricket and Cricket II.
I find this pet cemetery is so interesting, because it adds a unique richness to the experience of visiting Hartwood Mansion. These animals lived here, and were like family to the owners. If you close your eyes for a moment while you’re exploring the garden, you can almost see Queenie playing fetch in the lawn, Pal treeing a squirrel, or Max luxuriating in the ever-popular canine activity of rolling around in a fresh blanket of snow.
Hartwood Acres Park is open to the public daily. For detailed park hours, mansion tours, events calendar, trail map, and more info click here.