You love feeling the burn of a good workout and you don't mind getting a little sweaty, in fact, you just enjoy being active in general, but your friend — not so much. I get it, you want to hang out but sometimes finding something to do that interests you both can be tricky.
Whether you're just trying to get out of the house, interested in doing some nature-watching, or attempting to help your friend live a healthier lifestyle, there are many easy hiking spots around Pittsburgh that you can trick them into enjoying.
So get ready to lace up your best hiking boots, and throw your friend their flip-flops because the two of you are about to enjoy an easy hike through these local parks and trails.
Settlers Cabin Park Trails
Where: 608 Ridge Rd
Perhaps there is no better way to entice a friend to go hiking with you than to bribe them with promises of a wave pool afterward. If this sounds like something your friend would settle for (no pun intended) Settlers Cabin Park is the perfect park. Not only are there walking and hiking trails — and a wave pool, there is also a historic log cabin, dive pool, shelters, tennis courts, playgrounds, waterfalls, and a dek hockey rink. This park is kind of an awesome all-in-one place for everyone's interests.
Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve Trails
Where: 614 Dorseyville Rd
Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve is the headquarters of the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania. There are five miles of trails and 134 acres of the sanctuary, and lots of nature spotting to do here. Hiking will hardly feel like a chore when there is so much to see and learn about along the way.
Emerald View Park Trail
Where: Bailey Ave
Emerald View Park is an urban park in the neighborhoods of Duquesne Heights, Mount Washington and Allentown, full of artwork and fantastic views of the surrounding city. There are several trails to choose from in the park — some only just over a mile long, or the main loop that's nearly nine miles in length.
Seldom Seen Greenway
Where: 990 Saw Mill Run Blvd, Mt. Washington
We have mentioned the Beechview Seldom Seen Greenway trail a couple of times in previous articles because of the really cool abandoned graffiti railroad tracks and tranquil secluded beach area, but those are just extra features of the actual trail itself. The main walkway appears to be no longer than a mile from the entrance on 51, with some man-made pathways splitting off near the end (that I've never been interested in exploring).
Walking the main trail requires very little effort since its pretty flat and the terrain is well compacted. In conclusion, this is a great "hike" for anyone interested in expending little energy while exploring one of Pittsburgh's hidden urban trails.
This several mile long pathway takes the place of old railroad lines, making it perhaps one of the easiest walking trails around. Anyone from the area knows how hard it can be to find trails that don't require walking up and down hills, making the Montour trail a true treasure. The main trail is on nearly-level terrain with only slight grade differences and is paved with a smooth surface of crushed limestone.
If that's too easy for you and your friend, there are some additional trails that adventurers have made into the surrounding woodlands that require much more effort (but lead to some pretty cool places like hidden fishing spots and structures).
McConnell's Mill State Park
Where: 1761 McConnells Mill Rd, Portersville
Disguise hiking as a chance to go rock climbing and cave exploring at McConnell's Mill State Park. Sure, you could walk the dozens of marked trails, check out the old mill and covered bridge, but what you really want to do is head over to the rocky area of the park and hike in and out all of the naturally occurring crevices. You will easily get your friend to work up a sweat here without them even realizing it.
Eliza Furnace Trail
Eliza Furnace Trail is a city-scenic 5.7-mile trail in downtown great for all skill levels. It runs along the river and leads to the Point. What makes this trail really appealing to non-hikers is that they're never far from food and entertainment, so you can totally stop whenever you want and go do something else. For being an urban trail, Eliza Furnace receives a lot of praise, click here to read some reviews.
Thornburg Conservation Park
Where: 25 Rutgers Rd
With well-maintained pathways and an easy to navigate layout, the Thornburg Conservation Park is a local hidden gem. This park may be one of the few around that remains untouched by construction — there are no man-made structures around. The main feature of this park is Chartier's Creek, although if you look hard enough you will find some intersecting trails leading through the wooded areas too.
Where: Beadling Road between Cedar Boulevard and Washington Road Mt. Lebanon
Bird Park, named in honor of Lieutenant Thomas A. Bird, Jr., U.S. Marine, who was the first Mt. Lebanon resident to give his life in the Vietnam War, sits on a generous plot of 42 acres. This park boasts many features such as a soccer field, a picnic shelter, fire circle, numerous easy woodland trails, and a must-see waterfall.
Tranquil Trail, Frick Park
Where: Frick Park
There are plenty of hiking trails to choose from at Frick Park, but your friend will appreciate the Tranquil Trail. It's a scenic mostly-flat 2.6-mile out-and-back hike that leads from the northern section of Frick Park to the southern end.
Panther Hollow Trail, Schenley Park
Where: Schenley Park
While it may be a short trail, at only 1.8 miles — it's extremely beautiful and a great place for wildlife spotting. Birds, small mammals, and city dwelling deer often hang out in this area. Oh, and there are little structures to check out along the way like a tunnel and some small waterfalls.
Racoon Creek State Park
Where: 3000 PA-18, Hookstown
Racoon Creek State Park offers over 40 miles of hiking trails, some much easier than others. There are multi-use trails where you may cross paths with horseback riders, bikers, and other hikers, or you can choose a more-secluded hiking only trail. All of the trails and their distances/hardness levels can be viewed conveniently by clicking here. Oh, and I might as well mention there's a sandy beach area to cool down and relax at after your done with the hike.
Allegheny Islands State Park
Where: Cheswick, PA 15024
Maybe hiking doesn't sound like fun to your friend, but a boat ride does. The Allegheny Islands State Park is made up of two alluvial islands and seven shoals in the Allegheny River that are only accessible by boat. If you have a watercraft at your disposal — or know of anyone who does, these undeveloped islands are a great place to explore.
Millvale Riverfront Trail
Where: 70 River Front Dr
The Millvale Riverfront Trail is a simple 1.7-mile walk, providing access from Millvale to the North Shore, PNC Park, and Heinz Stadium along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. The trail meanders along the Allegheny River, past Herr's Island, the TRRA Millvale Boathouse, and into the Millvale Riverfront Park.
Where: 159 Riverview Ave
Yes, the Snowflake Trail exists, and no it's not snowflake friendly. While this park is situated on top of a pretty steep hill, there are still a couple trails here that are pretty easy to complete. The two-mile Riverview Loop is probably the most popular trail in the park, but there are several others to choose from — some are marked and others you will just stumble upon. What makes Riverview Park so great is that you can forget the trails altogether — just walk around the main paved area and check out the swimming pool, dog park, welcome center, playground and Allegheny Observatory.
Green Tree Nature Center
Where: 1214 Greentree Rd
Gather some wild-growing berries, witness a family of fox frolicking, and of course — hike along the scenic trails at none other than the Green Tree Nature Center. This nature center very well maintained, and because of this, the walking trails are pretty easy to navigate and complete. There is a lot of wildlife here that you won't typically find in urban neighborhoods, so think of the Green Tree Nature Center kind of like a visit to an uncontained zoo.
Moraine State Park
Where: 225 Pleasant Valley Rd, Portersville
Moraine State Park is an extremely popular nature park for sportsmen and hobbyists alike. It is so large that a highway separates the North and South Beach — meaning there are plenty of places to hike around these parts, just over 29 miles worth of trails to be exact. While you have a choice of trekking through the woodlands, wetlands, and along lake edges, one of the easiest hikes is actually around the Pleasant Valley Beach parking lot. It circles around, making it a good spot to do laps — or veer off into one of the trails. When you're finished, dip your feet in the lake, grab a bite to eat from the cafe, or just simply swing until your heart is content on the swingset.