Are you a busy day hiker who only wants to visit the best hikes near Pittsburgh? Me too!
As a hiker with a full time job, I need to minimize my travel time to maximize my outdoor time! But I don’t want to do trails that stink just because I need to stay close to home. That means I generally look for the trails that are less than an hour away. That way I can get to the trail head, get my hike in, and go home without spending my whole day traveling.
I’ve compiled this list of the best hikes near Pittsburgh so that you can visit only the most awesome trails! (Remember, I never review a hike I haven’t done!)
Read on for the best hikes close to Pittsburgh! All driving distances below are denoted from downtown Pittsburgh.
As always, follow the principles of leave no trace when you're exploring the wonderful trails of Pennsylvania!
Best Hikes 10 Minutes from Pittsburgh
Emerald View Trail
If you’re an out of town visitor with a busy schedule and you only have time for one hike, visit Emerald View Park. This park offers the BEST views of downtown Pittsburgh (known to locals as “dahntahn”). Take this trail for a 2.3 mile hike through wooded areas that will pop you out to some great river views. (Note: I personally prefer to do this trail as an out and back as the second half of the loop takes you through more residential areas, which I wanted to avoid). If you’re with people who may not be able to manage a hike, you can park near the overlook and still get the same great views without the hike. This is a very urban-feeling hike, so if you’re looking to escape the city, keep reading!
Schenley is another great option super close to downtown. Close to Pitt campus, there’s often a lot of students using these trails. The Panther Hollow Loop is a good one for a quick 1.9 miles, hitting the park’s best spots. If you’re looking for something longer, try the five mile Double Loop.
Psst. If you like the outdoors but the Pittsburgh climate is not to your liking when you’re visiting (and trust me, I get it), you can visit the Phipps Conservatory. This conservatory showcases thousands of different plants and can be a lovely respite from the gray of Pittsburgh winters.
Looking for something other than hiking to do in Pittsburgh? Check out Viator's list of awesome tours in Pittsburgh! My personal favorite is the Wigle Whiskey Tour, which is an amazing tour of a whiskey distillery in the Strip District! (Disclaimer: I earn a small commission if you click these links - all of the money goes back into running this site!)
Best Hikes 15 Minutes from Pittsburgh
The truth is: you don’t even have to leave the city to find a great hike. Frick Park is Pittsburgh’s most famous park. My favorite trail is Nine Mile Run. Just make sure you check to make sure your maps are up to date.With the collapse of the Fern Hollow Bridge, Tranquil Trail, the park’s main trail thruway, is now blocked off for construction where the bridge used to be.
Churchill Valley Greenway
Looking for your hike to have that apocalyptic feel of a zombie movie? Check out Churchill Valley Greenway, a former country club that has been acquired by the Allegheny Land Trust. Wander around the former golf greens in a beautiful meadow and forest. Be aware – the trails are “community-forged” so are best for hikers with a sense of adventure! Click the section heading for more detail!
Did you know that there’s a waterfall only fifteen minutes from downtown Pittsburgh? Yup! Located at Fall Run Park, you don’t even have to hike that far to see it – the trail is only 1.4 miles long. This trail gets CROWDED so get there early. It’s beautiful in any season, but I particularly love how the waterfall looks when its frozen.
Love the idea of visiting a waterfall? Check out my post on the Best Waterfalls near Pittsburgh!
Best Hikes 20 Minutes from Pittsburgh
Beachwood Farms Nature Reserve, managed by the Audubon Society, has 134 acres with over five miles of walk trails and a nature center that conducts environmental education. I like the 2.3 mile outer loop trail as it showcases the entire reserve and is slightly less crowded than the inner trails. Note that Beachwood Farms does NOT allow dogs, so leave your furry friends at home for this one.
At over 600 acres, Hartwood Acres has hiking AND free concerts every Sunday evening from June to August. While some parking lots are currently closed, you can still access the trails by parking just off the road. This short loop takes you past the amphitheater and off leash dog area, while also making sure you have time in the woods.
Best Hikes 30 Minutes from Pittsburgh
North Park has a ton of options for hikes close to Pittsburgh. If you like something easy and paved, try the five mile North Park Lake loop that has great views of all angles of North Park’s lake. If you want something less crowded and more woodsy, check out this six mile segment of the Rachel Carson Trail that starts at North Park.
Dead Man’s Hollow Conservation Area
Into history, hiking, and the potential for being haunted? Check out Dead Man’s Hollow Conservation Area in McKeesport, PA. Thirty-five minutes from Pittsburgh, this area is the home of an abandoned pipe factory. Visitors can check out the 1.9 mile Cool Spirit Trail or the 5.6 mile Witch Hazel Trail among many others. Check out my guide for more details!
White Oak Park
If you’re look for seclusion, White Oak is the way to go. This park, less popular than North Park and southeast of downtown, has never been crowded when I’ve visited. This 3.3 mile loop is a good one, but beware if you are navigationally challenged! There are a lot of trails to follow and some of them lead to private property. AllTrails really helped us on this one.
Best Hikes 45 Minutes from Pittsburgh
McConnells Mill State Park
I love McConnells Mill and it is worth the drive. It feels so secluded and it’s hard to believe it’s so close to a major city. Try the Kildoo Trail for a 2.3 mile trail that runs along the creek. Don’t let the distance fool you though – it is moderately challenging. If you’re a beginner hiker, I’d save this one for a dry day in a warmer season. When icy, the trails here can be very slippery. For more trail options, check out my post on McConnells Mill!
Visited all the trails close to Pittsburgh? Check out some of these great Pennsylvania sites that are within a couple hours drive of Pittsburgh! Cook Forest State Park Oil Creek State Park Rockland Tunnel
Do you have any other favorite hikes near Pittsburgh? Let me know in the comments below!
Post updated 11/05/2022