Hiking doesn’t necessarily mean roughing it. In fact, the hiking trails in Pittsburgh promise something for everyone: From the challenging to the demure trails, you’ll quickly discover the splendor and beauty of Pittsburgh’s outdoors. Here are the nine best trails for hiking in Pittsburgh:
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1. Rachel Carson Trail
Trek the entire span – 35 miles – of the Rachel Carson Trail in one day, or start it one day and finish it the next day, or even the next weekend. The day trail leads hikers through a hodgepodge of terrain – fields, woods, bluffs, and farms, to name just a few. Be prepared to get wet too because you'll have little choice but to cross one creek through the water – there's no bridge.
2. South Side Trail
Pass through vibrant Pittsburgh neighborhoods while hiking along the Monongahela River on the South Side Trail. The nearly five mile scenic trail starts at Riverfront Park and winds through lush green and past railroad tracks in the South Side, ending at Station Square. Most of the trail is made of crushed limestone.
3. North Shore Trail
Join other Pittsburghers who hike, stroll, and jog along the eight mile North Shore Trail, a riverfront trail that passes by PNC Park, Heinz Field, and the bustling downtown Pittsburgh before ending in Millvale. Hike underneath tree canopies. Dangle your feet in the water steps at Riverfront Park. The North Shore Trail offers plenty to see and to do along the path.
4. Frick Park
Escape into the forest – or as close as you can get in Pittsburgh – at Frick Park. The Frick Park Loop Trail, popular with hikers, winds through five miles of tree lined paths, offering tranquility while you hike, bike, or take your dog or kids for a pleasant walk. Hit the trails in the early morning hours for the best chance to see local wildlife.
5. Three Rivers Heritage Trail
Conquer all 24 miles of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail or choose one of the trails, such as Panther Hollow Trail, to explore. The expansive trail winds through Pittsburgh's many diverse neighborhoods and connects with numerous larger trails, including the Great Allegheny Passage and the Erie to Pittsburgh Trail.
6. Highland Park Trail
Drink in the sheer beauty of Highland Park, a nearly 800 acre park near the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, as you hike the two mile Highland Park Loop Double Trail. The easy trail promises a refreshing hike any time of the year. Leave time to visit the park's gardens, reservoirs, and swimming pool (season permitting).
7. West Penn Trail
Explore the tranquility of life on the outskirts of Pittsburgh by hiking part or all of the 17 mile West Penn Trail, which stretches along the river from Saltsburg to Blairsville. You'll encounter plenty of terrain – from simple to challenging – as you discover such beauty as stone arch bridges, canals, and backwoods.
8. Steel Valley Trail
Discover what once put Pittsburgh on the map – the steel industry – as you hike the Steel Valley Trail. Pass such historic landmarks as Carrie Furnace, the Waterfront in Homestead, and the U.S. Steel Edgar Thomson Works, the latter of which is an historic landmark. The 19 mile trail passes through numerous neighborhoods, including West Mifflin, Duquesne, Homestead, Rankin, and Swissvale.
9. Great Allegheny Passage
Hike the ultimate trail – the Great Allegheny Passage – starting in Pittsburgh or Cumberland, Maryland, whatever most strikes your fancy. The 150 mile trail, designed with hikers and bikers in mind, connects to the C&O Canal Towpath that starts in Cumberland and leads straight to Washington DC. Pass through numerous towns – from Connellsville to Frostburg – as you hike. Hikers typically cover two to three miles an hour.