I’ll Only Cross A River For A Buffalo

Achievement: #84. Visit the South Park Buffalo

Back in the earlier days of this blog, we met Rick Sebak at a fundraiser downtown, and I spent a good portion of our 15-minute-long conversation debating the merits of North Park vs. South Park with him. You see, I’m from the North Hills, and I have the standard ‘runner from the North Hills’ love/hate relationship with North Park. I will vehemently defend it in any debate: online, in person, or otherwise. But please, for the love of god, don’t ask me to do more than two training runs and one race there per year.

I really thought I had Rick Sebak beat in this debate. How could you not love (while simultaneously resenting) North Park? It’s got a lake! It’s got mini golf scattered throughout! There’s a restaurant at the boat house! Back in the 1980s, there was an old firetruck in the playground that you could crawl through! (It has presumably since rusted away, but the memory remains!) Not only is South Park in the dreaded South Hills, it doesn’t have a lake or the tattered memories of a rusty firetruck. (It does have mini golf, more on that later in 2019 when we return and actually write up a post about it.) Just as I was certain I had settled this debate once and for all, Rick Sebak dropped a truth bomb on me.

South Park has buffalo.

Yes. Real buffalo. Did you know that I LOVE THOSE THINGS? Did you know that once, I was stuck in Bradford for work at a hotel that didn’t get the channel that plays The Golden Girls after dark, and I drank half a bottle of wine while reading my National Parks Magazine AND THEN ADOPTED A HERD OF BISON to save them from extinction?

So we had to go.

Visit the South Park Buffalo
Don’t miss the turn – even though this is the most amazing feature of any park in the entire Allegheny County Parks System, the road sign is tiny.

Visit the South Park Buffalo
Once we arrived at the Game Preserve, I had to reaaaaaally try to reel in my excitement. I couldn’t believe I’d been living in this city for most of my thirty-six years without ever visiting the South Park Buffalo!!! Except that… once we approached the pond at the front of the Game Preserve, I was hit by a strong feeling of déjà vu. I knew I had been here before! Long ago, when there were maybe more animals. I was overcome by this very strong memory of feeding animals here before, when I was little.

Visit the South Park Buffalo
The only animals that remain now are the ducks at the pond, a peacock, and of course, the main attraction: the herd of buffalo.

Visit the South Park Buffalo
And at first, the only animals we could see WERE the ducks and the peacock. When we first arrived, there was no buffalo to be found!

There is a second area on an upper road where you can view the buffalo from the top of their enclosure. I read online that sometimes they are better viewed up there, so we drove up there, hoping and hoping for a sight of them. No luck at the top, and I was ready to go home and pout for the night, when Husband suggested maybe we give the main Game Preserve area one more try.

And then. There they were.

Visit the South Park Buffalo
In the trees! There they were! The buffalo!!! They were behind two fences, but they were there!

Visit the South Park Buffalo
You may have been excited in your life, but have you ever been Fox Seeing The South Park Buffalo For The First Time excited?? I think not.

Visit the South Park Buffalo
And then! The buffalo moved closer!! I mean, they were still two fences away, but they were SO CLOSE!

Visit the South Park Buffalo
But wait. There was STILL MORE EXCITEMENT. Did you know that in addition to all the grownup buffalo, there were also BABY BUFFALO?!??!? They were just barely the size of 3-4 Layla Graces!

Visit the South Park Buffalo
So, while I still vow to defend North Park to out-of-towners and/or jagoff know-it-alls from Castle Shannon, I must admit. The existence of this magical herd of buffalo at the South Park Game Preserve has elevated the entire park to a level I did not think it could achieve. I hear it has some very nice running trails, and I guess they even have live music, both of which I may put aside my South Hills disgust long enough to try out in the summer. But let it be known that every trip I take to the South Hills will have the hidden purpose of visiting these fine furry beasts. Thanks for a lovely evening, buffalo. I’m sorry there were so many fences between us.


Filed under #84-18, buffalo, park, pittsburgh, south hills

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