Best Hikes Pittsburgh - 2nd Edition  by Bob Frye

Best Hikes Pittsburgh - 2nd Edition Guide Book

by Bob Frye (Falcon Guides)
Best Hikes Pittsburgh - 2nd Edition  by Bob Frye
From a hike through Pymatuning State Park to see its famous spillway, to an old Indian path called the Warrior Trail, this book describes the best hikes in and around Pittsburgh, many of them never previously covered elsewhere. This guide describes thirty-five of the best hikes in and around Pittsburgh, most of them within an hour’s drive of the city—from city parks practically within a stone’s throw of downtown to the bluffs above the Allegheny River in Harrison Hills Park, to the rugged Slippery Rock Gorge.

© 2018 Bob Frye/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Best Hikes Pittsburgh - 2nd Edition" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 35.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 35.

The Kennerdell Tract of Clear Creek State Forest hugs the Allegheny River where it twists and turns through Venango County. This particular hike follows trails that begin on a state game lands and continue through the tract’s southernmost section. They’re open only to hikers (as opposed to bikers, too), so it’s a nice, relatively quiet walk. There’s some wonderful scenery, especially in winter when there’s snow on the hemlocks, but there are some climbs, too. This area is open to hunting, so wear orange during the spring and fall hunting seasons.
Pittsburgh, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 7.3
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has been buying and saving land in western Pennsylvania for more than seventy-five years. Most of the time, it secures unique and special natural places, then turns them over to agencies like the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Pennsylvania Game Commission to maintain. The organization has kept the 5,189-acre Bear Run Nature Reserve to conserve the region’s native plants, animals, and their ecosystems. Although the reserve also serves as a monitoring station for biodiversity in the region, it remains open to the public.
Ohiopyle, PA - Backpacking,Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking - Trail Length: 7.7
A relatively short hike through a nature preserve that contains just 134 acres, this loop is nonetheless enjoyable, especially if you want to stay close to Pittsburgh. Beechwood is owned by the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania, so you can expect to see lots of birds here, especially at the feeders behind the nature center. Individual trails here are closed periodically in winter for the purposes of managing deer. While most of the reserve’s trails are not blazed, they are marked at each intersection, so getting around is pretty simple. Dogs prohibited unless they are special-needs animals
Pittsburgh, PA - Birding,Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking - Trail Length: 2.8
Beginning at a neat little covered bridge, this is an easy hike along a gated road that follows Buffalo Creek on State Game Lands 232. Deer, waterfowl, squirrels, and other wildlife are common. A variety of songbirds can be found in the wetlands at the far end of the hike. The trail borders private property in some areas. That land is posted against trespassing, so be sure to stick to the road unless you’re sure you are still on public ground. This area is very popular with hunters, primarily from October through late January and again from late April to late May. If you want to hike here at those times of year, it’s best to do so on Sunday, when most hunting is prohibited.
Pittsburgh, PA - Birding,Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Mountain Biking,Walking - Trail Length: 5.6
If you like hiking on wide, flat trails—sort of like sidewalks without the concrete—this is not the hike for you. This hike starts uphill almost immediately and climbs for quite a while. The only part of the walk that’s tougher, in fact, is the second half, which involves coming back down. Then you have to step from one upturned, angled rock to another. But there’s a lot of wildlife in this area and some wonderful scenery. This area is open to hunting. The trail is very rocky in places and the area is reportedly home to rattlesnakes, so be careful when walking.
Seward, PA - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking - Trail Length: 4.4
The second-most challenging portion of the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail—a 70.0- mile backpacking trail—this hike includes a couple of serious climbs. The payoff comes in the form of multiple overlooks of the Conemaugh River. It’s neat to see birds flying high above cars—and to be high enough to look down on all of them. This section of the Laurel Highlands typically gets more snow than surrounding lowlands, so hiking the trail in winter can be especially challenging.
Pittsburgh, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 7.2
If you have any appreciation for endurance, you’ll enjoy walking this hike, which passes underneath some trees that were already old when George Washington was fighting for American independence. The park’s Forest Cathedral is perhaps the bestknown example of old-growth forest here, and this hike will take you through the heart of it. You’ll also get to see a beautiful section of the wild and scenic Clarion River, too. Longfellow, Hemlock, and Deer Park Trails and about half the River Trail (from the fire tower o the Clarion River) have yellow and blue blazes to indicate they are part of the Baker and North Country Trails. Most of the trails within the Forest Cathedral are not blazed, although there are trail signs at each junction.
Pittsburgh, PA - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking - Trail Length: 6.7
This loop hike through Frick Park involves a few hills, but it’s relatively easy overall. Some of the sights you’ll see are the tiny Hot Dog Dam, an even smaller pond, and, if you’re lucky, people lawn bowling at the only site in Pennsylvania where that game still goes on. You’ll pass a wetland as well. Expect to see lots of people, too. Many hikes take you through areas with few people. That’s not the case at Frick. Despite being the largest of Pittsburgh’s parks (600 acres), Frick is also often the busiest. Walk here at any time and you’ll find joggers, lawn bowlers, bicyclists, high school cross-country runners, skiers, and others.
Pittsburgh, PA - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Mountain Biking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 5.1
This is an easy to moderate hike, with a few short but steep hills. Wildlife—notably white-tailed deer, gray and fox squirrels, and songbirds—are abundant throughout the grounds, and you’ll have the chance to get some nice views of the Monongahela River. What makes this hike unique, however, is the opportunity to visit the Gallatin House, where you can get a guided tour, watch a video presentation, and learn a lot about an important if little-known man from America’s past. Hunting is not permitted on the site grounds, so this is a good place to hike on weekdays and on Saturdays in the fall.
Pittsburgh, PA - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking - Trail Length: 4
Part of the larger North Country National Scenic Trail, the Glacier Ridge Trail extends 14.0 miles across Moraine State Park. Within Moraine, the trail travels through pine plantations, mature and regenerating forests, and past a pond; offers views of the expansive Lake Arthur; and provides plenty of opportunities to view wildlife. This particular hike is an out-and-back walk, with a small loop at one end. This area is open to hunting, so wear orange during hunting season.
Pittsburgh, PA - Hiking - Trail Length: 8.2
Despite being relatively short, this hike has enough climbs to get your attention. Add in a few waterfalls, a trail register that sometimes reads as funny as the script to a TV sitcom, and a section where the trail clings narrowly to a steep hill, and this is a fun walk. Because it starts and ends at a picnic area with water, restrooms, grills, and tables, it’s a great hike to combine with a picnic. This area is open to hunting and is very popular, especially in bear and deer seasons—late November and early December.
Pittsburgh, PA - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 3.8
As hidden as any park can be in one of the state’s most populous counties, Harrison Hills offers some wonderful scenery and some truly challenging walking. The eastern end of the Rachel Carson Trail—a 35.7-mile pathway across the county—begins here and when connected with some other park trails, allows you to get in a good loop hike. Wildlife, particularly white-tailed deer, abounds here. The portion of this hike that follows the Rachel Carson Trail has some serious drop-offs. Be especially careful with children here. Despite having its share of playgrounds, picnic areas, restrooms, and other facilities, Harrison Hills Park is considered the “greenest”—i.e., least developed—of Allegheny County’s parks.
Pittsburgh, PA - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking - Trail Length: 5.3
At 3.0 miles, this is one of the shortest hikes in the book. It’s a relatively easy one, too, with just one challenging climb. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make a day out of visiting Jennings Environmental Education Center. The center routinely hosts programs for children and adults on everything from tree identification and wildflowers to rattlesnakes and Native American culture. Most are free, and all are open to the public, so you can often plan a hike around another opportunity to learn about nature. If you walk your dog through Jennings’s prairie—which is also home to endangered massasauga rattlesnakes—be sure to keep your pet on a leash so that neither he nor the snakes get hurt.
Pittsburgh, PA - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 3
The slightly more rugged of the two loops that make up the John P. Saylor Trail, this hike winds through areas of hardwood forest, across woodland meadows, and along Clear Shade Creek, with some wetland areas mixed in. Fisherman’s Path, which you first hike in on, and use again to get out, is fairly steep, but the rest of the hike is relatively easy. This area is open to hunting. Shade Road is gravel and can be snow covered in winter.
Pittsburgh, PA - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking - Trail Length: 5.9
This hike can be challenging if you do it end to end at one time. The Lake Trail portion, which clings to the steep hillside above Laurel Hill Lake, can be particularly tough, so you have to exercise some care there. Elsewhere the trail is relatively mild, with the sections leading to the dam on Jones Mill Run and the portion paralleling Laurel Hill Creek where it enters the lake well worth the effort. Portions of Laurel Hill State Park are open to hunting, so wear orange during those seasons. To begin, park in the large parking area near Picnic Area No. 3, near the swimming beach.
Pittsburgh, PA - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking - Trail Length: 7.1
This hike covers 12.0 miles, but because it’s a joint biking and hiking trail, it’s paved along its entire length and the traveling is pretty easy. There’s a lot to see here, too, especially if you enjoy birds. The trail stays close enough to the lake that if you’re inclined to try fishing, you can tote a rod and get in a few casts without venturing too far off track.
Pittsburgh, PA - Birding,Cross-Country Skiing,Fishing,Hiking,Road Biking - Trail Length: 12
It wouldn’t be fair, or even accurate, to say that no one knows about Mingo Creek Park. It attracts trout anglers each spring, hosts high school graduation parties each summer, and draws visitors to see its covered bridges each fall. And no matter what time of year it is, there will be the occasional wedding party looking to get photographs. Located in rural Washington County, Mingo Creek County Park sees a lot of horseback riders, and a portion of this hike shares a route open to them. It can be hiked at any time, but it’s best in dry weather. When it’s been wet and muddy, that horse traffic can create ruts.
Pittsburgh, PA - Fishing,Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 3.1
Mount Davis is the highest point in Pennsylvania, with an elevation of 3,213 feet above sea level. Don’t come here expecting to see a singular majestic peak, however. The area around Mount Davis is one big plateau, so while you can get a very nice view from an observation tower, this area is surprisingly flat. You also will see several streams and a unique spring and learn a little history of the area. This is the state’s highest point and is, appropriately enough, a place of extremes. Annual temperatures range from minus 30 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. It is not uncommon for winter snow depths to reach 3 to 4 feet—perhaps three times as deep as what you’ll find at lower elevations. Frost has been observed at some point during every month of the year, too.
Pittsburgh, PA - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 7.8
This hike uses a number of trails that are part of the Mountain Streams trail system in Forbes State Forest. Sights along the way include Indian Creek, a very good trout stream (though in places you have to bushwhack to get to it), some regenerating forests that are prime country for black bears, and even a bit of pastoral farm country. This is a hike with ties to the area’s industrial past. At one time, several railroads operated in this area, carrying coal and timber out of the Laurel Highlands. You won’t find any trains now; those days are gone. The old rail grades still exist, however, as footpaths. One of them forms a major part of this hike.
Pittsburgh, PA - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 6.7
This hike follows roads for its entire length, but don’t let that fool you. It is challenging. Only the middle portion of this hike, covering less than 2.0 miles, is even remotely flat. The rest of the time you’re climbing—to the tune of roughly 1,000 feet in elevation. You’ll have the chance to see some interesting wildlife along the way, though, along with a pretty stream winding through rhododendron and an old iron furnace. This area is very popular with hunters, primarily from October through late January and again from late April to late May. If you want to hike here at those times of year, it’s best to do so on Sunday, when most hunting is prohibited.
Pittsburgh, PA - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 8.8