By Hilary Miller, Park Ranger, Friendship Hill National Historic Site and Fort Necessity National Battlefield
National Park Getaway: Friendship Hill National Historic Site
Tucked away in a wooded spot overlooking the Monongahela River in southwestern Pennsylvania is Friendship Hill National Historic Site, home of Albert Gallatin (1761–1849). Gallatin is best known for serving as Secretary of the Treasury under Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.
After admiring the tree-lined entrance road and parking in the main lot, visitors walk 300 yards to the Gallatin House, which serves as the visitor center for the park. Along the way, visitors pass a statue of a young Albert Gallatin with surveying equipment. Gallatin first came to the “western country” as a surveyor and land speculator. In 1786, he purchased the property he named “Friendship Hill” in honor of three friends.
Gallatin built the first part of the house, the Brick House, in 1789. He constructed other sections in 1798, 1821–23, and 1824 before selling the property in 1832. Later owners made additions to the house around 1900. Visitors may explore the Gallatin House during a self-guided tour or follow the cell phone tour throughout the park. Two short audiovisual programs are available for viewing.
Friendship Hill has programs for everyone in the family! Children are welcome to complete the Junior Ranger Program, a free program recommended for kids age 6–12. Visitors age 13 and older may try out the brand-new, free Senior Ranger Program. Senior Rangers will earn a patch similar to those earned by Junior Rangers upon completing this free program.
Traveling with a furry friend? Friendship Hill offers a free BARK Ranger Program for canine visitors and their human companions. Dogs completing the short program will be sworn in as “Bark Rangers” and receive Bark Ranger collar tags. Human visitors may stop into the Gallatin House for a BARK Ranger Program activity book and more information.
Visitors taking in Friendship Hill’s scenery are welcome to explore 10 miles of hiking trails through an old-growth forest, along a river, and past ponds and meadows filled with wildlife. Trails vary in difficulty level and some include sizable changes in elevation—the park is called Friendship Hill, after all! Certain trails are suitable for cross-country skiing during the winter months. Visitors may utilize the picnic area and comfort station located adjacent to the main parking lot.
Special programs and events are held throughout the year. FestiFall, an annual event celebrating the life and times of Albert Gallatin, takes place at the end of September. Sponsored by the Friendship Hill Association, the family-friendly weekend event includes period food, music, crafts, and activities.
The Gallatin House is open from 9 am to 5 pm on Saturdays and Sundays from October 1 to April 30, with the exception of federal holidays falling on weekend days. From May 1 to September 30, the Gallatin House is open 9 am to 5 pm daily. Park grounds and trails are open daily from sunrise to sunset year-round. The park is located three miles north of Point Marion, Pennsylvania, on PA-166. For more information, please call 724-329-2501 or visit the park website.