Break out of your every day routine this summer – or next winter – and head to one of the area’s state parks, which offer thousands of acres that are ideal for every outdoor activity imaginable. Soak up the sun while swimming at the beaches at several of the state parks. Fly a model airplane or go horseback riding. Southwestern Pennsylvania’s state parks, all family-friendly, promise jaw-dropping beauty, pure relaxation, and plenty of adventure. Would you agree that the following are the eight best state parks in Pittsburgh?
1. Point State Park
Point State Park, at the tip of the Golden Triangle in Pittsburgh, is perhaps the most easily recognizable state park in the area. It offers plenty of traditional activities, including boating, hiking, and biking. In fact, two popular hiking and biking trails – the Great Allegheny Passage and the Three Rivers Heritage Trail – run through the park. History buffs can learn more about Pittsburgh by visiting the Fort Pitt Block House. Locals, thousands of whom flocked to Point State Park, will remember when the famous Giant Rubber Duck floated into town in 2013, docking on the river's edge.
2. Moraine State Park
Choose from dozens of activities – from hiking to boating – at the nearly 17,000 acre Moraine State Park or simply soak up the sun's rays at one of the park's two beaches, Lake Arthur and Pleasant Valley Beach. Approximately 40 miles outside of Pittsburgh, the state park features traditional activities as well as some not-so-traditional activities, including disc golf and bird watching from the waterfowl observation deck.
3. Keystone State Park
Spend a relaxing or an adventurous day at Keystone State Park then settle in for a night of camping or head home for the evening. The 1,200 acre state park in Westmoreland County promises something for everyone: Swimming at the sandy beach, eight miles of hiking trails, bicycling, and boating on Keystone Lake's 78 acres. Keystone State Park also features a full range of winter activities, including sledding, ice skating, and cross-country skiing.
4. McConnells Mills State Park
Seasoned climbers can test their skills at McConnells Mills State Park's two climbing areas while others can hit the nine miles of hiking trails, fish, hunt, or enjoy a picnic at the Kildoo Picnic Area, which also features a play area for kids. The Lawrence County park borders Slippery Rock Creek where, because of dangerous currents, swimming is prohibited.
5. Ohiopyle State Park
Carve out plenty of time for your visit to Ohiopyle State Park where photo-ops abound. Soak up the unparalleled beauty of the waterfalls, including Cucumber Falls, then slide down the natural water slides. Hikers can choose one of the many trails that cover nearly 79 miles while bikers have 27 miles of biking paths to explore. Ohiopyle State Park welcomes visitors to enjoy both summer and winter activities.
6. Ryerson Station State Park
Lace up your hiking shoes and hit the 13 miles of hiking trails at Ryerson Station State Park in Greene County, not too far from the West Virginia border. If hiking isn't your style, you'll find plenty else to do: swimming in the free pool, hunting, picnicking, and camping. Outdoor enthusiasts can also engage in such activities as sledding, ice skating, snowmobiling, and cross country skiing during the winter months.
7. Hillman State Park
Just 25 miles outside of Pittsburgh in Washington, Hillman State Park caters predominately to turkey and deer hunters and to hikers. However, the state park also features a model airplane field, which requires prior registration and verification of membership to the Academy of Model Aeronautics. Visitors are encouraged to use extreme caution when carrying and operating firearms.
8. Raccoon Creek State Park
Immerse yourself in outdoor adventure at Raccoon Creek State Park in Beaver County. Raccoon Lake provides an idyllic setting for boaters, kayakers, and fishermen while the more than 7,500 acre state park promises ample opportunity for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and camping. The park also features a sandy beach with a concession stand and a bathhouse.