Looking to get outside the bustle of Pittsburgh, but not drive too far? Check out the awesome trails in North Park!
North Park Trails
North Park offers 43 miles of trails for walking, hiking, bike riding, and mountain biking. Additionally, the Rachel Carson Trail runs through North Park.
As always, follow the principles of leave no trace when you're exploring the wonderful trails of Pennsylvania!
North Park Lake Shore Loop
This is the most popular trail at North Park. At 5.0 miles, this trail loops around the lake. There’s no shortcut, so make sure you can commit to all five miles before starting! This trail is accessible for wheelchairs and strollers, as it is paved, flat, and at least four feet wide in most places. It does run alongside a busy road for part of the hike, so if you’re looking for an escape to nature, check out a different trail. The Lake Loop can be crowded on nice days, so get there early.
Rachel Carson Trail
North Park is host to over eight miles of one of my favorite trails, the Rachel Carson Trail. I started my RCT journey in North Park and it made me fall in love with this trail. The RCT is well marked with yellow blazes everywhere and particularly so in North Park.
Ice Rink to Beaver Shelter is a great starting point at 6.2 miles and is where I started the RCT. If you want some hills, you can park at Ice Rink and head west to Brooker Drive. The North Park section of the RCT does tend to be more crowded than other sections but it is LOVELY.
If you are interested in section hiking the Carson, North Park is the best place to start (and I highly recommend purchasing a trail guide from the Rachel Carson Conservancy). Trust me – you will need it!
Nature Access Trail or “Braille Trail”
The Nature Access Trail aka Braille Trail is a 0.4 mile long that is great for beginner hikers. AllTrails rates it as easy. Created in 1970 for the visually impaired, a rubber rope will guide hikers throughout the forest. As someone who wants the outdoors to be accessible to EVERYONE, I love this concept and would love to see it more.
The Braille Trail is just off to the side of Brown Road with a small parking area across from the Nature Center. According to an AllTrails review, there are 27 QR codes that link to locally made YouTube videos discussing plants and animals that live in the trail habitat.
North Park White Trail
This 2.8 mile long trail is one of the more lightly trafficked North Park Trails. It is rated as moderate, but due to the length, I think it would be totally fine for beginners. There is some elevation change (374 feet), but overall not too challenging. The trail is shaded for the most part. It’s beautiful in the winter as well as the summer, but I would recommend picking a dry day, as it can get slippery after rain or snowmelt. The trail was a little challenging to follow on markings alone, but easy to follow on AllTrails.
North Park Green Trail
This 1.8-mile hike is a great option for those looking for a shorter but still moderate hike at North Park. Unlike some of the other trails, this one is very well marked. If you want a full escapist hike immersed in nature, beware that this hike has a landfill in sight for about half a mile. Consider using microspikes if it has rained recently.
North Park Orange Trail
If you’re looking for a medium-length hike in the park, the Orange Trail is your best bet. It clocks in at 4.2 miles with 456 feet of elevation change. This hike loops around the golf course. Some of it does run along a road, so if you’re looking to avoid traffic, complete the trail as an out and back instead of a loop. Beware that this will increase the distance to about six miles.
North Park Red and Blue Dot Trail
If you’re looking for something longer than all the above trails, check out the Red and Blue Dot trail. At 9.2 miles, it’s a solid hike. AllTrails reviews mention that this hike is not well marked in places.
For a complete printable map of North Park, visit the Allegheny County website. For interactive maps of the trails at North Park, I highly recommend AllTrails. Remember that all trails at North Park are multi-use so please be respectful and polite!
Looking for more hikes near Pittsburgh? Check out this list of the Best Hikes Near Pittsburgh!
About North Park
North Park is a 3,075-acre park located in Northern Allegheny County. Completed in 1931, North Park is located 15 miles northeast of downtown Pittsburgh in Hampton, McCandless, and Pine Townships. It is the largest park in the nine-park Allegheny county park system. North Park’s development via the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was important for local employment during the Great Depression.
What To Do in North Park
North Park’s main feature is its 65-acre lake that offers fishing and kayaking. The lake is the largest man-made body of water in Allegheny County. It features a vintage boathouse, where you can rent a kayak, SUP, canoe, or pedalboat from Venture Outdoors. Once you’re done adventuring, visit Over the Bar, a casual restaurant that offers great views of the lake.
For nature lovers, the Latodomi Nature Center is located at North Park. It covers approximately 250 acres and includes field, forest, pond, wetland, and stream habitats with a series of nature trails. The nature center provides programming to schools, scouts, and public and private groups year-round. For more information on the nature center, visit the Allegheny County website.
Additional amenities include an 18-hole golf course, a giant pool, ice rink, multiple sports fields, and off-leash areas. The shelters and facilities at North Park are able to be rented up to a year in advance. There are options for accessible locations. To reserve your spot now, click here. For a complete list of amenities in North Park, please visit the Allegheny County Parks Foundation website.
To be frank, I’ve never done anything but hike and mountain bike at North Park. But perhaps once I get through all the trails, I’ll explore the other activities the park has to offer!
How to Get to North Park
North Park is located in Allison Park, PA roughly 20 miles north of downtown Pittsburgh off of route 19. Parking is free. If you’re looking for a specific trail, I recommend using AllTrails directions to get you to the trailhead or check out the park map to find cross streets.
Looking to visit more Pennsylvania State Parks? Check out my post listing all of my PA State Park guides for tips on visiting some of my favorites!
Post Updated July 17, 2022