- Michael DiBartolomeo
Hiking Trails Near Pittsburgh
The city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, lies at the western foothills of the Appalachian Mountain Range, making it an ideal spot for hikers. The city center also offers some beautiful walking paths for beginners or families looking for an easier route. With almost 4500 miles of walking trails in the area, there is something to suit everybody’s needs.
Summer in Pittsburgh is the ideal outdoors weather. Trekking through the glorious foothills with the warm sun on your shoulders is pretty close to a perfect afternoon, and any one of the 46 trails within a couple of hours' drive of the city can offer just that. Pack up the car and strap on the hiking boots for a fun family day out, or a week-long unforgettable journey through the mountains, and head to some exquisite beauty spot right on Pittsburgh’s doorstep.
Here are some of the top trails to check out.
Three Rivers Heritage Trail
Let’s start simple. The Three Rivers Heritage Trail is located in the city, so very little travel time is involved. Easily the best central-city hike, this route gives you incredible views of everything that makes Pittsburgh unique and beautiful. The track is mainly a dirt path that winds its way across the three rivers that makes up the city, taking in historic landmarks and bridges, some of the best parks in the area, and so much more that the area has to offer.
More of a ramble than a hike, this trail is perfect for families who want to explore the city and learn more about the history of Pittsburgh, while getting some exercise at the same time. The path is also great for running or biking.
Slippery Rock Gorge Trail
Not as treacherous as it sounds, the Slippery Rock Gorge Trail is a challenging but spectacular day trek less than an hour's drive from the city. The terrain varies throughout the hike but has several rugged rocky sections that require a bit of care and navigation and a few steep climbs- but every step is well worth it!
Slippery Rock makes up part of the famous North Country Trail, so those inclined towards further adventure can branch-off and explore other trails if they want to stay in the area a bit longer. This particular trail takes around five hours to complete but can be shortened or extended depending on your mood on the day. It connects to the Kildoo Trail, which you can follow to make the loop a bit shorter.
Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail
This is one for the adventurers! 70 miles of uninterrupted stunning natural beauty stretching across western Pennsylvania, the Laurel Highlands is a must-see for anyone who loves to hike. Roughly an hour and a half from Pittsburgh, this trail is usually completed over four or five days but is adaptable to personal stamina. There are eight overnight camping spots spread out along the trail, so it is really up to the hiker how often they choose to stop.
Known for its diverse terrain and stunning scenery, the 20,500 acres of the Laurel Highland attract over 1,000,000 visitors every year. It’s no wonder why when you take one look at the enchanting surroundings. If anyone in the Pittsburgh area is looking for a truly spectacular outdoor experience, the Laurel Highland Hiking Trail is unparalleled.
Rachel Carson Trail
The Rachel Carson Trail Challenge is somewhat famous in the US hiking community and is a right of passage for all Pennsylvanians who want to call themselves an outdoorsman. At a whopping 35.7 miles (57.5 km), this is an almighty day trek. Overnight camping is not permitted on the trail. You either commit to finishing the whole thing or set a turning back point before you head out.
There is a shorter route available, roughly 18 miles (the most popular choice), and a family-friendly route spanning seven miles so everyone can access and enjoy the wonderous nature in the area. The variety of terrains and landscapes covered during each hike is impressive, with dense forest, open meadows, and trickling streams, to name a few. Hiking the Rachel Carson Trail is a challenging but peaceful endeavor, many having compared the area covered to something from a fairytale.
Every year the trail conservancy hosts a challenge day where keen hikers flock from across the country to prove themselves and perhaps raise some money for charity. The challenge is to complete the whole 35 miles between sunrise and sunset, or 15 hours. The first one back wins eternal glory and bragging rights until the end of time. The shorter tracks also run their own challenge, so nobody misses out on the fun!
No matter how experienced a hiker you are, Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas have an abundance of trails available to enjoy. From a family trek through the city to a week-long adventure in the mountains, this incredible city has it all.
For help saving up funds for the next big family trip, contact The Kelley Financial Group.