Bear Run Nature Reserve

Bear Run Nature Reserve is the flagship property of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. Located on the western flank of Laurel Hill in the Laurel Highlands of southwestern Pennsylvania, the Reserve offers hiking trails, backcountry campsites, and hunting and fishing opportunities. Bear Run Nature Reserve provides the setting for Fallingwater, designed for the Kaufmann family of Pittsburgh by architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Bear Run Nature Reserve is managed to protect, conserve and restore land and water for the diversity of the region’s native plants, animals and their ecosystems. The reserve is integral to biodiversity conservation in the Laurel Highlands and the mid-Appalachian region.


Wildlife and Plants

Bear Run Reserve provides habitat for a diversity of forest-dwelling wildlife, including black bear, fisher, bobcat, and over 53 bird species. Over 500 plant species have been found on the Reserve. Dominant trees include tulip tree, red maple, chestnut oak, American beech, sugar maple, and black cherry.



  • Stewart Township, Fayette County
  • Springfield Township, Fayette County
  • Lower Turkeyfoot Township, Venango County

Dates Acquired

1963 - 2019


Approximately 5,118 acres

Notable features

mature deciduous forest, hemlock forest, high gradient streams


Parking Available

Recreational Activities

  • Birding
  • Camping
  • Eating Area / Benches
  • Fishing
  • Hiking (Designated Trail)
  • Hiking (Off-Trail)
  • Hunting
  • Scenic Overlook
  • Universal Access / ADA Trail
  • Wildlife Watching

Recreational Activities

Visit Fallingwater

Fallingwater, which is surrounded by Bear Run Nature Reserve, is accessible only from its entrance off Rt. 381, and requires an entrance fee.
Get Directions | Visit Fallingwater |



The main trailhead is located at the upper parking lot. From there, more than 20 miles of trails take hikers to various corners of the reserve.


Observing Plants and Wildlife

Bear Run Reserve provides habitat for a diversity of forest-dwelling wildlife, including black bear, fisher, bobcat and more than 53 bird species. More than 500 plant species have been found on the reserve. Dominant trees include tulip tree, red maple, chestnut oak, American beech, sugar maple and black cherry.



Backcountry camping is permitted at a limited number of primitive campsites, which must be reserved online. Please click “Register for a Campsite” below to reserve a campsite for a specific date.


Hunting and Fishing

NO FIREARMS are permitted on or around the grounds of Fallingwater. Please refer to the map on the Bear Run hunting permit document, to familiarize yourself with the “No Hunting Zone” where weapons are prohibited. Hunting is permitted in the appropriate areas Monday through Saturday, with a free permit from the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. Hunting is not permitted on Sundays. Fishing is permitted with the exception of the reach of Bear Run from the Rt. 381 bridge downstream to the Youghiogheny River. Trapping is not permitted.



Bear Run Nature Reserve is an eBird hotspot! eBird hotspots are the best places for birding around the world. is a website and app you can use to: find more birds; keep track of your bird lists, photos, and sounds; explore the latest sightings from around the world; join the world’s largest birding community; and contribute your observations to science and conservation. Visit for more information, directions to hotspots and more.

Plan Your Visit

GPS Coordinates: 39.906115, -79.459889

Directions to the Preserve

Interactive Preserve Map


Bear Run Nature Reserve is located off PA Rt. 381, approximately 3 miles south of Mill Run, Fayette County, PA


Visitor Tips

Watch this introduction to Bear Run Nature Reserve

At more than 5,100 acres, exploring Bear Run Nature Reserve can be a true wilderness experience. Many of the trails are rugged and purposely managed to have minimal impact on the surrounding landscape. Be prepared by reviewing reserve information at the trailhead and bringing a GPS unit.

Wear sturdy boots or shoes and have extra water. Also, prepare for your visit by watching this short video about the reserve and reviewing the downloadable maps and materials below. We recommend downloading these files to your mobile device prior to visiting, as cell phone reception is not always available in this area.


Visitor Guidelines

When visiting Bear Run Nature Reserve, please remember:

  • Dogs must be on a leash or otherwise kept under control at all times.
  • All vehicles (4WD, ATVs, mountain bikes, etc.) are prohibited.
  • Campfires are permitted only at designated campsites. Only dead and downed tree limbs may be used for firewood. Firewood may not be brought in from offsite, or removed from the Reserve.
  • Dumping and littering is prohibited.
  • Collecting (animals, plants, rocks, etc.) is prohibited.
  • Horseback riding is restricted to immediate neighbors only with a permit.
  • Review the Guidelines for Public Use of WPC Preserves document prior to your visit