Living in a city like Pittsburgh means that I'm constantly surrounded with many wonderful options for food, entertainment and culture, but sometimes I just want to unplug, decompress, and breathe some fresh air.
There is nothing more rejuvenating than getting out of the city and into nature. Luckily, there are many options for where to explore, as Pittsburgh has more than its fair share of parks and green spaces. You don't even have to leave the city limits if you don't want to!
It is my personal opinion that Pittsburgh's parks and green spaces are underrated and underused. With the leaves turning and the weather cooling, no time is better to get out there and explore a new trail! Here are a few for you to try.
(Shown above) Described as a "multi-use riverfront trail system", this 24-mile trail has sections on both banks of Pittsburgh's three rivers with easy access to city neighborhoods, business districts, and local attractions. It serves as a hub for other trail systems such as the Great Allegheny Passage. The Three Rivers Heritage Trail is ADA accessible and features great signage that points out historical events, native wildlife, and significant places along the way. Check out a map of the trail.
Frick Park is a perfect choice for doing some outdoor exploring without leaving Pittsburgh's city limits. The largest of Pittsburgh's historical regional parks, the 644 acres stretch from Point Breeze down to the Monongahela River giving you plenty of room to explore. If you enjoy bird watching, stop at Clayton Hill where over 100 species of birds have been recorded. Kids love to learn about nature at the Frick Environmental Center then take a slide at the famous Blue Slide Playground. My favorite trail at Frick Park is the Tranquil Trail, which winds through the valley and along the creek making for a very peaceful hike true to its name. Check out a map of the trail.
Only 13 miles from Pittsburgh, North park is filled with awesome outdoor recreational activities. Tackle the Lake Shore Loop – 5 paved miles that follow the outline of North Park Lake, giving you a beautiful view from any angle. If you're really looking for a challenge, take on the Rachel Carson Trail. The trail spans 35+ miles and traverses several county parks. If neither of those trails are your speed, there are 43 total miles of trails for you to choose from that are equally great for walking, running or biking.
Schenley Park is one of my favorite parks in Pittsburgh. Containing 456 acres of trails and woods, it is one of the best places to people watch as it attracts many different people – students, children, business-people, outdoor enthusiasts, to name a few. I specifically enjoy the Lower Panther Hollow Trail. An easy hike at 1.2 miles, it follows a stream originating from Panther Hollow Lake. To extend your hike, start at Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens or the Schenley Park Cafe and Visitor Center, walk across the Panther Hollow Bridge to the Upper Panther Hollow trail and then connect to the lower Panther Hollow Trail to make your way back. Check out a map of the trail.
Located near the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, Highland Park has nearly 800 acres to explore. The Double Loop Trail is an easy, two mile, family-friendly trail which is fun for everyone. See if you can spot the waterfall, and make sure to give yourself extra time to visit the park's gardens, reservoirs, and swimming pool (season permitting). Check out a map of the trail.
For even more great hiking options, check out this blog post by Fitt Pgh.