Parker–America’s smallest city–is located along the scenic Allegheny River in Western Pennsylvania. The forested hills and clear streams and the natural beauty of the surrounding area provide residents and visitors alike with year-round outdoor recreation.
Getting to Parker
From the North or South: Parker is located along PA Rt 268, a 15 minute drive south of Emlenton, PA and a 37 minute drive north of Butler PA via Rt 68 and 268.
From the East or West: Parker is located along PA Rt 268 a 20 minute drive south of the Emlenton I-80 exit 46.
Hikers entering Parker from the Southwest travel through PA State Gamelands 95. The Trail exits the gamelands along a right of way which connects via Bruin Rd to Jackson St. for a 1 mile road walk to SR 268 in Parker.
Hikers entering Parker from the North via the Allegheny River. Hikers will cross the Parker Bridge on a pedestrian walkway over the Allegheny River and walk along the Allegheny River on N. River Avenue.
The area was settled in 1819, the city was named for Judge John Parker, the surveyor of Lawrenceburg and founder of Parker’s Landing. The two villages were later combined to form Parker. The oil boom reached the area in 1865 and by 1869 there were over 1,000 wells in the area. The population swelled to from 1,000 to 20,000 with another 5,000 living in boats along the Allegheny River. This brought immense prosperity to the area and in 1873 the City of Parker was incorporated. The wells began to run dry by 1878 and a disastrous fire gutted the waterfront in 1879. The booming city shrunk back to 1,000 over a ten year period thus earning its title as America’s smallest city.
The Bear Creek Pump Station, just south of town was built in 1879, the nation’s largest for a time, operated until 1974. It connected the 21 lines supplying the East with the mid-continent oil fields to the West.
The major industry today is UFP Parker, a leading, single-source supplier of industrial packaging, concrete forming products, lumber and other wood products. UFP Parker is part of the Universal Forest Products family of companies that supplies composite and non-wood products to three markets: retail, construction and industrial. Headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Universal’s culture is rooted in Midwestern values of hard work, honesty, and a roll-up-your-sleeves determination.
Today Parker provides services to its residents and visitors. There are three restaurants, a bakery, a market with gas pumps, and a hotel and a post office. The city has a riverside park, a canoe and boat launch area, and a large city park and recreation fields off Wabash Avenue
Things to See and Do
PA STATE GAMELANDS 95
SGL95 consists of 9,962 acres in 6 separate tracts. Here the hiker will be treated with rushing streams, rock formations, Hemlock covered hillsides, Bear Creek Gorge and unique wooden bridges – all overlaid with historic remnants from the oil boom. The NCT winds 3 scenic miles along the Bear Creek Valley crossing at the Dead Crow Bridge and the Bears Mouth Bridge. Trailheads are along El Dorado Rd, Rt 268, and Jackson Ave in Parker, PA.
PARKER CANOE AND BOAT LAUNCH
Parking and recreational access to the Allegheny River which flows 325 miles from New York State to Pittsburgh, PA . Fishing, boating and paddling are popular activities on the Allegheny. Launch upstream at Foxburg or Emlenton and float down to Parker and explore the Clarion River which flows into the Allegheny a mile upstream.
Allegheny River Trail
PAVED BIKING/HIKING TRAIL
A paved biking/hiking trail runs 3 miles along the east side of the Allegheny River past the mouth of the Clarion River to Foxburg.
Foxburg features a hotel overlooking the river, the Allegheny River Grill a winery, library and other shops. The trail continues north from Emlenton to Franklin where it intersects with the Sandy Creek Trail. The Sameul Justice Trail continues north through Oil City and on to Oil Creek State Park and Titusville, home of the Drake Well and museum.
Bob’s Place Restaurant – 103 N. Wayne Ave, 724-379-4221, Open daily 11am – 8pm for lunch and dinner
Parker House Hotel – N. River Ave, 724-399-9911, Originally an 1824 log warehouse converted to a hotel in 1869
The Nest Bakery – 212 N. River Ave, 724-399-2000, Bakery and Cafe Breakfasts, lunches, open Tue-Sat 5am-2pm
Parker VFW – 214 N. River Ave, 724-399-2356, Open to the public for breakfast Sat. 8-noon and Sun. 9am-1pm
Riverstone Lounge and Grill – 210 N. River Ave, Open 11am -2am daily features hot dinners, soups, deserts
Welter’s Country Market – 104 N. River Ave, 724-256-5066, Open Mon-Sat 8am – 9pm, Sun 8am-5pm Groceries, Supplies, Valero Gas Station
US Post Office – 208 Washington St, 800-275-8777, Open Mon-Fri 8am – noon Sat 2-4pm Sun 8am-noon
Allegheny Valley Trails Associations – https://www.avta-trails.org/ Maps and information about area multi-use trails including Clarion Highlands Trail, Allegheny River Trail, East Sandy Creek Trail, Sameul Justus Trail and the Oil Creek Trail.
Butler County Tourism & Convention Bureau – www.visitbutlercounty.com 310 East Grandview Avenue, Zelienople, PA 16063 Phone: 724-234-4619 Information headquarters for brochures, calendar of events, festivals, maps, services, photos, trails, and lodging.
Butler Chapter North Country Trail Association – www.northcountrytrail.org/butler-county-chapter/ Our local trail chapter maintains 57 miles of trails in Butler County and Armstrong County, PA. Local information on shuttles, hikes, trail conditions, camp sites, etc. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NCTAButlerChapter
State Gamelands 95 topo map – Wear orange during the fall and winter hunting seasons September -January. http://www.pgc.pa.gov/HuntTrap/StateGameLands/Documents/SGL%20Maps/SGL__095.pdf