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Looking for the best parks for outdoor activities in Pittsburgh? Check out this list to find out!
Sometimes while living the city life, you need a break from the concrete and buildings.
Considering its industrial past, Pittsburgh today has lots of parks and green spaces where you can enjoy the outdoors without going too far out of the city. In this guide, we’re sharing with you the top parks in Pittsburgh and parks that are within a 40-minute drive of Pittsburgh! These awesome parks near Pittsburgh offer a range of outdoor activities including hiking, picnicking, swimming, and much more. Here are some of the top parks in Pittsburgh and outdoor things to do in Pittsburgh!
Best Parks for Outdoor Activities Pittsburgh
If you haven’t had enough of the outdoors after visiting the Pittsburgh Zoo, visit Highland Park on your way out! During the spring and summer, this park has a beautiful Victorian style entry garden with roses and flowers. There is also a bike track, swimming pool, sand volleyball courts onsite! During a visit to Highland Park, you can walk around the reservoir or some of the walking trails in the wooded areas of the park. Highland Park also has a swimming pool and tennis courts.
Frick Park is another urban park in Pittsburgh that is great to visit if you don’t want to leave town. Frick Park is located near Squirrel Hill and Point Breeze and offers miles of hiking trails within the heart of the city. It is also connected to 9 Mile Run, another walking and biking trail.
Frick Park is named after the famous Henry Clay Frick, a leader of the steel industry in Pittsburgh. Frick left a portion of his land to the city after his death. If you visit Frick Park, you can also make a stop at the Frick historic estate and museum and see his Gilded Age Estate.
Frick Park also holds dear to fans of the late Mac Miller, who named his album Blue Slide Park after the playground in the park.
During a visit to Frick Park, you can also visit the Frick Environmental Center. The Frick Environmental Center serves the community by offering educational programs, summer camps, and fields trips.
Pittsburgh’s Hidden Lake: Panther Hollow and Schenley Park
Schenley Park is another great park in Pittsburgh to visit if you don’t want to stray too far from the city. Schenley Park, located in Oakland, features Phipp’s Conservatory, a hidden lake, miles of walking trails, a golf course, and playgrounds.
Schenley Park is also the host of the Pittsburgh Grand Prix every year. Throughout the spring and summer, Schenley Parks hosts recurring events like Yoga in the Park, Movies in the Park, and others.
One of our favorite parts about visiting Schenley Park is walking around Pittsburgh’s hidden lake! Panther Hollow is a hidden lake right in the heart of Oakland! Panther Hollow Lake has been around since the early 20th century. This lake was constructed to collect runoff from the Panther Hollow Watershed. Over the years, the lake has thrived and declined. It lake was originally constructed with a boathouse where locals could launch and enjoy being on the water. However, the boathouse was demolished in the 1970s. Throughout the years, Panther Hollow Lake was the spot during the winter for ice skating.
Because water from the city accumulates in Panther Hollow Lake, there is a lot of sediment in the lake. In the early day of the lake, it was 20 feet deep and now it’s less than 5 feet deep because of sediment. This makes it difficult and expensive to maintain; however, over the later 10 years, The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy has been working to restore the lake.
The Pittsburgh Park Conservancy has a nice self-guided walking tour of Panther Hollow! Panther Hollow can be accessed by parking near Phipps Conservatory and taking the path behind the park visitors center.
Emerald View Park or Grandview Park
Emerald View Park is one of Pittsburgh’s most unique and picturesque parks! Located on Mount Washington, Emerald View Park is a lovely-quaint green space that gives you a beautiful panoramic view of Pittsburgh and offers walking trails up and down the hillside.
Seldom Seen Greenway
Known as “the seldom seen greenway” this old road and railroad tracks have been reclaimed by nature and are now a space to enjoy the outdoors. It’s crazy to think that we have driven by this little spot SO many times and never knew it was there! If you’re traveling south on Sawmill Run Blvd, behind the salt storage dome and the BP, you’ll see a small parking lot. This is where you can access the park!
After you park your car, you’ll see the Seldom Seen Greenway sign at a gate. Here is where you can access the park! First, you’ll see a tunnel with a little stream going under it. The tunnel at the Seldom Seen Greenway in Pittsburgh is actually a historic landmark! The Seldom Seen Greenway was once home to a small German settlement and village. The only access to the area was through this tunnel beneath the railroad, which was built in 1902!
After passing through the tunnel, there are a few small trails you can follow and explore. Be careful though, the trails can be a little more overgrown, so watch for stinging nettle and ticks!
TIP: At this small park, look above you, you might see people “slacklining or highlining” across the little stream!
Unfortunately, because of the Seldom Seen Greenway’s location, there is a lot of trash throughout this park. During your visit, don’t leave anything behind and do your part by throwing things away in the trash!
Southside Riverfront Park
If you’re in the Southside and want to get away from the hustle and bustle of happy hours, take a stroll along the Southside Riverfront Park. This park is part of the Three River’s Heritage Trail system and is accessible with parking lots on both ends of the Southside. This park also features a “color park” with colorful artwork on benches and sidewalks.
Three River’s Heritage Trail
Along the rivers in Pittsburgh, you can stroll along the Three River’s Heritage Trail. This trail goes along each shore in Pittsburgh so you can see the beautiful skyline from all angles. The Three River’s Heritage Trail is one of our favorite spots in Pittsburgh for walking. We love to walk on the Three River’s Heritage Trail on the North Shore to get views like this one below!
Herr Island Walking Paths
This small trail system extends off of the North Shore’s Three River’s Heritage trail and takes you along the perimeter of Herr Island, or more well-known as Washington’s Landing. This island is now home to apartment complexes, Redfin Blues, boat docks, and Pittsburgh rowing teams, but the walking trails offer beautiful views of the Strip District and the city skyline!
Point State Park
Pittsburgh has some lovely green spaces not far from downtown! The Point State Park is Pittsburgh’s most popular park since it’s located at the fork of the rivers and gives you awesome views of the city and three rivers. Here you can walk around and view the city views, chill by the fountain, and visit the Fort Pitt Museum.
During the summer, Point State Park hosts some of the cities largest events including the Three Rivers Arts Festival, the Three Rivers Regatta, and events at the Fort Pitt Museum.
Best Parks within 25 Minutes of Pittsburgh
If you want to venture a little further outside of the city, there are plenty of parks near Pittsburgh within a half-hour drive. Some of our favorite feature waterfalls and more manicured gardens!
Falls Run Park
Falls Run Park is a small park with a 1.5-mile hiking trail and a beautiful waterfall! This hidden gem hiking spot in Pittsburgh makes for a great walk and photo spot!
Falls Run park is located just north of Pittsburgh in Glenshaw. When visiting Falls Run make sure to put 187 Fall Run Rd, Glenshaw, PA 15116 in the GPS or it mistakenly might try to take you into a neighborhood! This address will take you to the parking area.
Beechwood Farms located in Fox Chapel is a beautiful nature center with a few miles of easy hiking trails. Along the trails, you can see local wildflowers and wildlife in the small pond. Beechwood Farms is affiliated with the Audobon Society making this spot great for Pittsburgh bird-watching!
Settler’s Cabin State Park
Settler’s Cabin State Park is located a 20-minute drive west of the city and is close to the Robinson shopping centers. This park near Pittsburgh is great for easy to moderate hiking and picnicking. There are a lot of pavilions available, multiple playgrounds, tennis courts, a wave pool, and a deck hockey rink. There are over 5 miles of hiking trails at Settlers Cabin State Park which makes for a great afternoon with the family. Settler’s Cabin State Park also features a small waterfall worth hiking to along the Green Loop!
Pittsburgh Botanic Garden
Not to be confused with Phipps Conservatory, The Pittsburgh Botanic Gardens is located at Settler’s Cabin State Park. The Pittsburgh Botanic Garden has a few miles of trails that feature manicured gardens with flowers and plants from all over the world. There are multiple stops along the way with educational cards about different trees and plants and play areas for children.
Over the few years of visiting the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, they have expanded their trail systems and offer event space for weddings and parties. Unlike the free parks of Pittsburgh, the Botanic Garden has a small fee, and there is usually a Groupon for it!
Boyce Mayview Park
Boyce Mayview Park in Upper Saint Claire is great for a family day outside. The park is home to a community pool, indoor sports center, and sports fields. In addition to the sports facilities, there are miles of hiking trails through the woods, meadows, and along the stream. The trails at Boyce Mayview are great for easy to moderate hiking. We love visiting Boyce Mayview because you feel like you’re hiking in the middle of nowhere, even though you’re not far from the suburbs!
The Montour Rail Trail System is a 60-mile trail system for walking and biking. It is actually the country’s longest suburban rail trail. The trail system takes you along the suburbs of Pittsburgh and allows you to connect to the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) and the C&O Canal Towpath, and the Panhandle Trail so you can walk and bike across PA or into West Virginia! The Montour trail is also part of U.S. Bicycle Route 50, which runs east-west and, when completed, will span the country.
Along the Montour Trail, you’ll find historic tunnels, bridges, and scenic views!
Montour Woods Conservation Area
The Montour Woods Conservation Area is located near Coraopolis and features some of Pittsburgh’s newest hiking trails. This network of hiking trails has recently been revitalized thanks to conservation efforts. Along these trails, you’ll see new educational signage about the environment around you.
During a visit to the Montour Woods, walk along the stream and explore a small manmade cave that once housed a spring (along the Cave Trail). These trails are great for all skill levels and for biking.
During a hike at Montour Woods, you’ll also find some interesting pieces of history! Along the Oil Well Trail, you’ll see the remnants of an oil well.
Best Parks Within 40 Minutes of Pittsburgh
If you’re looking to have more of a day trip from Pittsburgh, consider visiting one of these parks within an hour of Pittsburgh!
Raccoon Creek State Park
Raccoon Creek State Park makes for a great day trip from Pittsburgh! Racoon Creek is one of our favorite state parks near Pittsburgh because there is so much to do! This park’s main feature is a large lake where you can swim, fish, and rent non-motorized boats. Around the park, you can hike along the miles of trails. Raccoon Creek has lots of space for having a picnic which is great for the holidays! We have been picnicking at Raccoon Creek on the Fourth of July and Labor Day for the past few years!
At Raccoon Creek State Park, you’ll find an easily accessible waterfall! The Mineral Springs Trail features the waterfall pictured above. You can access the falls by parking at The Mineral Springs Trailhead and taking a short 10 hike to the falls.
South Park, located in the South Hills of Pittsburgh is a great place to get outside in the suburbs. South Park features walking and biking trails, ball fields, a golf course, playgrounds, and picnic areas!
Hartwood Acres Park attracts visitors for more than just walking. The historic Hartwood Acres mansion is a 16th-Century-style Tudor estate and is a popular spot for events, photography sessions, and tours! Hartwood Acres is located just 20 minutes north of Pittsburgh.
Hartwood Acres also has horse stables and trails for horseback riding, making it a great, horse-friendly place near the city.
Moraine State Park
If you’re looking to drive a little further from the city to get your hiking and boating fix, visit Moraine State Park. Moraine State Park has plenty of walking, hiking, and biking trails. Lake Arthur at Moraine State Park is perfect for a summer day of boating, fishing, and swimming with the family.
At Moraine State Park, you’ll also find remnants of an oil rig, which is an interesting piece of local history!
McConnell’s Mill State Park
McConnell’s Mill State Park is a little confusing to get to because you’ll likely lose phone service on your way there. This little park is a hotspot for fishing, whitewater kayaking, and hiking.
The park is named after the historic mill that is still located on the property. During the summers, the mill is opened for visitors. The mill is located along the river in the Slippery Rock Creek Gorge, which is a National Natural Landmark. Throughout the year, McConnell’s Mill attracts photographers for its surrounding natural beauty. At the Mill, you’ll also see one of the Western PA’s many covered bridges.
If you want to see the top sights at McConnell’s Mill State Park, start your day off at the Mill by parking at the picnic area and taking the steps down to the Mill. Once you view the Mill, hike the geology trail, which has interpretive signs along the way about the landscape. Along this trail, you see Kildo Falls, a cascading waterfall.
On your way out, stop by Cleland Rock, where you can drive up to a scenic overlook. The road to get there is a dirt/gravel road through a cornfield, so don’t be alarmed!
North Park is a large park north of Pittsburgh near McCandless. North Park features a large lake with a bike-friendly trail around the perimeter. Not far from the park is a mini-golf course and a family fun center. On the lake, you can fish and rent kayaks and canoes from Adventure Pittsburgh
Want to Explore Further from Pittsburgh? Here are the Best Parks in the Laurel Highlands!
If you’re looking to go on an outdoor day trip from Pittsburgh, consider exploring some of the parks in the Laurel Highlands!
Ohiopyle State Park
Ohiopyle State Park is a perfect day trip from Pittsburgh if you’re looking to explore somewhere new! This awesome park in the Laurel Highlands of PA offers a number of outdoor activities for any kind of adventurer including hiking and biking trails, whitewater rafting, and climbing.
State Parks of the Laurel Highlands
The Laurel Highlands, located a short one-hour drive from Pittsburgh, is full of state parks and hiking trails! Twin Lakes, Keystone, Mammoth Park, Linn Run, and the Winner Palmer Nature Reserve are great green spaces for taking a walk or hike. Here are some of our favorite hiking trails in the Laurel Highlands!