Location and Directions
Bullock-Pens is a public park at the northern edge of Churchill Borough at a border with Penn Hills.
- Head east on McCrady Road (in front of Beulah
Presbyterian Church) for about half a mile.
- Turn left to cross over an exit ramp from Wm. Penn
Highway. The park road descends to a turn around with parking
pullouts available along the road.
In 1758, during the French and Indian Wars, British General John Forbes led his army against the French at Fort Duquesne and corralled a herd of oxen to be used for food in the approximate area now preserved as Bullock-pens Park. The area also contained a small village where a substantial number of Forbes' men remained to protect settlers against Indian raids after the fall of Fort Duquesne. Logging and coal mining during the 19th century dramatically changed the original character of the terrain.
Churchill Borough began acquiring parcels of land in the area in 1963 and at the end of 1974 fifty- seven acres were dedicated as a recreational park. Two picnic shelters were added, and over the decades, playground equipment, a summer day camp, a bridge across the creek, and other amenities were added and subtracted. Today most of the park functions as green space.
In May 2013 an informational kiosk was dedicated at the park entrance as an Eagle Scout project. It contains notices of scheduled activities and a map to the mile-long loop nature trail. The trail begins at the upper (Biber) shelter, crosses Chalfant Run via two foot bridges, and winds through maturing trees of second growth oak-maple forest. Physically challenged users should be advised that the park lays in a hollow, necessitating that the trail to pass through several steep sections. With proper footwear the hike rewards hikers with a typical western Pennsylvania woodland, an abundance of native trees and shrubs (many of which have identification labels), and a variety of wildflowers that are pictured, identified, and updated seasonally on the park kiosk.
The Borough encourages proper use of the park by organized groups and individuals and maintains a reservation system at the Borough Building. A spring community day has been held in the park on a regular basis, and guided trail walks are scheduled weekly, weather and trail conditions permitting. The Churchill Recreation Board sponsors these and other events.
Enjoying Bullock-Pens Park
Bullock-Pens Park presently contains no ball fields or playground
equipment. The area does abound with other opportunities!
- Nature study – biological (birds,
small mammals, plants, mushrooms, mosses, lichens, cones, nuts,
berries, etc.); geological (rocks, sinkholes from past mining,
elevation changes, and more); aquatic (stream water quality,
seasonal flow changes). The park is a nature sanctuary.
- Dog walking area – Pets benefit from large
areas where they can romp and roam. For the safety and
reassurance of other park users, keep dogs leashed and clean up
their waste. A disposal can is provided at the upper park
- Picnics – A grill is available at the upper
shelter. Please clean the grill and remove all picnic items
before leaving the park. Piped water is available in season.
There is a large mowed area for informal children’s games and
- Meditative silence, steady stroll, or brisk hike
– For a short-one mile- hike, the park loop trail is
recommended. Although one end of the loop is quite steep for a
short section, most of the trail is moderately graded and offers
the health benefits of a good aerobic workout. Otherwise, there
are areas to sit, contemplate, reflect, and enjoy.