14 Incredible Hikes Near Pittsburgh for All Levels - Urban Outdoors
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When you think of Pittsburgh, steel bridges over running rivers and interesting historical sights probably come to mind. And while people may not think of Pittsburgh as the most outdoorsy city, there are a surprising number of fun and active things to do outside here. In addition to its fabulous history, the Steel City has some exceptional hikes within its city limits as well as nearby. Hiking near Pittsburgh is a fun way to explore the outdoors, and you’ll have your pick of trails that lead to waterfalls, lush forests, rocky mountain peaks, and more! We created this guide to the best hikes near Pittsburgh so you can plan your next outdoor adventure in the Steel City area.

Easy Hiking near Pittsburgh

Three Rivers Heritage Trail

  • Distance from Pittsburgh: 0 miles (Located in the city)
  • Trail Length: 16 miles total
  • Elevation Gain: 479 feet

Known as one of the city’s quintessential walking, running, and biking trails, the Three Rivers Heritage Trail is an easy and convenient starting point for hiking in Pittsburgh. As its name suggests, this trail crosses over and beside the city’s three rivers – the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers. While it’s less of a traditional hiking trail and more of a dirt path that runs through the city, the Three Rivers Heritage Trail provides unparalleled access to some of the things that make Pittsburgh so special.

Crossing through the bustling city center, historic bridges, and several prominent landmarks, this pathway offers 8 miles of trails so you can choose how long (or short) of a hike you’d like to take. For an easy, all-levels trail that’s right in the heart of the city, none of the hikes in Pittsburgh are quite as central as the Three Rivers Heritage Trail.

Photo Credit: Michael Righi (Flickr CC)

Panther Hollow Trail, Schenley Park

  • Distance from Pittsburgh: 0 miles (Located in the city)
  • Trail Length: 1.9 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 183 feet

Pittsburgh’s Schenley Park is one of the most beloved green spaces in the city, and the trail around Panther Hollow Lake is one of the best ways to explore it. This dirt path through the park offers beginners, families, and kids an easy and accessible path that’s fun of natural scenery. While it’s not completely secluded from the city roads, the trail offers a nice mix of urban views, historic bridges, and forested pathways that feel like the woods. It’s also one of the less crowded hikes in Pittsburgh, so it’s a wonderful escape without actually leaving the city.

Hollow Oak Loop

  • Distance from Pittsburgh: 0 miles (Located in the city)
  • Trail Length: 3.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 423 feet

If you’re looking for a bit more challenge without leaving the city, the Hollow Oak Loop in Montour Woods Conservation Area is a wonderful (and convenient) choice for hiking in Pittsburgh. The trail boasts just enough variety in terrain and change in elevation to be considered moderate, but it’s easy enough to be accessible to all levels of hikers, including beginners. Along the densely forested trail, you’ll see waterfalls, bridges, and caves, and it’s also a prime spot for viewing Pennsylvania’s fall foliage every year.

Photo Credit: Jim Trodel (Flickr CC)

Youghiogheny River Trail to Jonathan Run Falls

  • Distance from Pittsburgh: 67.2 miles/1 hour, 20 minutes (Ohiopyle State Park)
  • Trail Length: 3.7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 344 feet

For a relaxed walk along quiet streams that ends in a pretty waterfall, the Youghiogheny River Trail is a wonderful spot for hiking near Pittsburgh. This shaded trail is a great year-round hike for all levels, and is family- and dog-friendly, too. Typically, you can get the chance to see the Jonathan Run Falls, which is a scenic waterfall along a rocky outcropping, but numerous recent hikers have mentioned that during dry times, the falls may not be running. If you want to extend your hike, you can also make this into a much longer loop on the large network of trails marked on the Ohiopyle State Park trail maps.

Mineral Springs Loop

  • Distance from Pittsburgh: 32.1 miles/38 minutes (Raccoon Creek State Park)
  • Trail Length: 1.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 147 feet

For an easy trail that leads to some fantastic natural scenery, head to Raccoon Creek State Park’s Mineral Springs Loop. This short, 1.3-mile trail offers hikers of all levels a peaceful journey through the woods that ends at a small waterfall and a cave area. Along the way, you’ll cross over the stream over wooden bridges and near large boulders that you can climb if you choose. Those willing to venture out in the winter will find the frozen waterfalls at the end especially spectacular, with hundreds of icicles hanging off the top of the cave like something out of the Chronicles of Narnia. You’ve got to see it to believe it!

Photo Credit: Alex Liivet (Flickr CC)

Moderate Hikes Near Pittsburgh

Emerald View Park Trail

  • Distance from Pittsburgh: 0 miles (Located in the city)
  • Trail Length: 2.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 367 feet

Because the Pittsburgh area is home to many hills, there are also many viewpoints in the area. Locals will tell you that of all the hilly hikes in the area, the Emerald View Park Trail is one of the best hikes in Pittsburgh for getting exceptional, unobstructed skyline views of Steel City.

This 2.3-mile trail is located just across the river from the main downtown area of Pittsburgh, where a moderate climb will take you up to a hilltop that offers fantastic views of the city. Locals love this trail, but mention that it’s wise to bring a map, as the trail can be overgrown and difficult to follow.

Kildoo Trail

  • Distance from Pittsburgh: 41 miles/45 minutes (McConnells Mill State Park)
  • Trail Length: 2.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 249 feet

Combining history and nature, the Kildoo Trail is a short, moderately difficult hike that crosses scenic streams, waterfalls, rock formations, a covered bridge, and some other historic structures. The trail is one of the most popular ones in the park for a reason – it’s well marked and offers a mild challenge that’s accessible to hikers of all levels. The terrain can be tricky along the trail, especially after rain, as there are lots of roots and rocks throughout the dirt path.

Photo Credit: Jason Morrison (Flickr CC)

Pine Knob Trail

  • Distance from Pittsburgh: 62 miles/1 hour, 15 minutes (Forbes State Forest)
  • Trail Length: 3.9 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 833 feet

If you’re looking for a complete escape from the city that you can do on an easy day trip, the Pine Knob Trail in Forbes State Forest is a moderately challenging trail that provides the seclusion and wilderness that many urban dwellers crave. You’ll gain some decent elevation as you hike up narrow, forested trails along a scenic incline. From the top of the hill, there’s a lookout that offers lovely views of nearby Uniontown. Many people who hike this trail mention that they’re often the only ones on the trail, which isn’t the case for many of the more popular hikes on our list.

Photo Credit: Nicolas Raymond (Flickr CC)

Great Gorge Trail, Ohiopyle State Park

  • Distance from Pittsburgh: 69 miles/1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Trail Length: 4.9 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 751 feet

Ohiopyle State Park is a beloved nature area in Pennsylvania for a reason – its numerous hiking trails and waterfalls offer a spectacular adventure through the hills of southwestern Pennsylvania. One of the nicest trails in the park is the Great Gorge Trail, which offers hikers a glimpse at some beautiful park views and access to the scenic Cucumber Falls (pictured above). A heavily forested trail, you can do this one all year round and never get bored with the changes in colors in the surrounding landscape. At less than 5 miles, this trail can also be combined with other paths in Ohiopyle State Park to lengthen your hike, if you choose.

Mount Davis Natural Area Trail

  • Distance from Pittsburgh: 84 miles/1 hour, 40 minutes
  • Trail Length: 5.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 826 feet

Want to reach the highest point in Pennsylvania? Mount Davis’ summit is that point, and the Mount Davis Natural Area Trail is how you can get there. Just 5.4 miles round trip will take you to the spot, where there’s a tower that will give you an even better vantage point to enjoy the views of the forests below. Along the way, you’ll catch small streams and waterfalls along dense forest paths. There’s a round plaque at the top commemorating the high point of the state, and while the views aren’t quite as spectacular as some of the other trails on our list, they’re especially lovely during the fall when you can see the changing colors of the treetops on display.

Photo Credit: Nicholas A. Tonelli (Flickr CC)

Hickory Creek Wilderness Trail

  • Distance from Pittsburgh: 133 miles/2.5 hours (Allegheny National Forest)
  • Trail Length: 12.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,266 feet

For those looking for a longer but not too challenging trail, the Hickory Creek Wilderness Trail in Allegheny National Forest is a popular option for a full-day or overnight hiking trip. This is one of the longer moderate hikes near Pittsburgh, but you can choose to shorten this out-and-back trail to the length that you desire. Along the way, you’ll find large boulders and rock formations, quiet forests, and peaceful streams that offer a wonderful respite from the city. There are also lots of opportunities to see local wildlife, as the trail goes deep into the forest. You have the option to camp at one of two backcountry campsites along the way (check the Allegheny National Forest website for more information).

Photo Credit: Gene Krasko (Flickr CC)

Ricketts Glen Falls Loop

  • Distance from Pittsburgh: 242 miles/4 hours (Ricketts Glen State Park)
  • Trail Length: 6.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,010 feet

We wouldn’t recommend driving 4 hours for a hike that wasn’t absolutely spectacular, but the Falls Loop at Ricketts Glen State Park is absolutely one of the best hikes in Pennsylvania. This 6.6-mile loop is moderately difficult and climbs over 1,000 feet, past a grand total of 21 (yes, TWENTY ONE!) waterfalls of varying sizes, widths, and flow levels. The tallest set of waterfalls is a whopping 94 feet! This trail can get quite crowded on the weekends, so we’d recommend arriving early or going on a weekday. If you’ve driven all this way from Pittsburgh, we’d also strongly recommend doing some other hikes in the Ricketts Glen area!

Photo Credit: Zach Frailey (Flickr CC)

Difficult Hikes Near Pittsburgh

Laurel Highlands

  • Distance from Pittsburgh: 68 miles/1 hour, 15 minutes (Ohiopyle State Park)
  • Trail Length: 11.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,749 feet

One of the most scenic and challenging hikes near Pittsburgh is the Laurel Highlands trail. There are several different variations of this trail, but the most popular route stretches from Ohiopyle to Bidwell across 11.2 miles. The trail boasts some of the best views of Ohiopyle State Park and the Youghiogheny River as it snakes through the hills. Experienced hikers will enjoy the challenging ascents and terrain of this hike, which is one of the most strenuous trails in Pennsylvania. However, for all of the effort that the Laurel Highlands trail requires, the scenery and absolute escape from the city are some well-earned rewards.

Photo Credit: Jon Dawson (Flickr CC)

Slippery Rock Gorge Trail

  • Distance from Pittsburgh: 41 miles/45 minutes (McConnells Mill State Park)
  • Trail Length: 15 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,535 feet

For hikers looking for a challenging, scenic, and long adventure, the Slippery Rock Gorge Trail is one of the best spots for day hiking near Pittsburgh. This 15-mile, difficult trail isn’t just a walk in the park – there’s plenty of elevation gain and terrain change to keep you on your toes! At 7.5 miles each way, the trail goes from Hell’s Hollow parking lot to McConnells Mill, spanning basically the entire length of the park. Experienced hikers love this strenuous trail, which offers surprisingly challenging hiking for the northwest Pennsylvania area. Along the way, you’ll get to experience first-hand the beauty of McConnells Mill State Park – waterfalls, bridges, rock formations, and forests all await you.

Additional Resources for Hiking Near Pittsburgh

What to Bring

  • Breathable hiking clothes – For warmer hikes, you’ll want to stay cool in a sweat-wicking shirt/tank top and breathable pants, like these Patagonia hiking shorts for men and women. For cold-weather hikes, we recommend dressing in layers, including merino wool baselayers for men and women, a down puffer jacket for men and women, and a Northface waterproof outer shell for men and women. And don’t forget a pair of the best women’s and men’s hiking socks in the world! For more information, check out our guides to hiking shorts for men and women and our top tips and gear for hiking in winter.
  • Water bottle – Having water available at all times is a huge must. To limit disposable plastic, we recommend bringing your own refillable water bottle. We’re obsessed with Hydro Flask water bottles because they keep water cold for hours.
  • Sunscreen and bug spray – This should be self-explanatory, but sweatproof sunscreen and DEET bug spray can help you avoid sunburn and bug bites, two of hiking’s most annoying after-effects. Our favorite kind of sunscreen is Sun Bum, as it is free of harsh chemicals and safe for marine life, including coral reefs.
  • A brimmed hat or cap – The sun can be brutal in open hikes, so always pack a brimmed hat or cap for day hikes in the sunshine.
  • Emergency blanket and first aid kit – We’d strongly recommend bringing a first aid kit and a lightweight emergency blanket on every hike. Why? Because the unfathomable can happen, and it’s always best to play it safe.
  • Durable day pack – A durable day pack is the perfect spot to stash all your hiking gear. While any backpack will do, we recommend the Osprey Tempest 20 or the Talon 22 day packs because they’re comfortable and breathable for long hikes. For more information, check out our best day packs for any terrain guide.

Wondering what exactly you should pack for your next hike? Visit our Complete Day Hiking Packing List for our full list and our top gear recommendations.

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Kay Rodriguez is the founder of Urban Outdoors. She's also the writer and photographer behind Jetfarer. When she's not writing furiously on her laptop or editing photos, you can find Kay running, hiking, surfing, or playing in the snow.

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