When living in a city you may not expect to find much green space, let alone any forest areas to explore. A perk of Pittsburgh is its many offerings of woods to hike, picnic, and enjoy nature. As the weather begins to cool down and the leaves change their colors, there are many options of forest trails to choose from to help get you into the fall spirit.
Located in the center of the hustle and bustle of an urban area, Schenley Park is an ideal escape from city life. As you go deeper into the woods, the city sounds of cars, loud college students, and ambulances begin to disappear and you can enjoy some peace and quiet. Filled with chipmunks skittering around, mini waterfalls, and Panther Hollow Lake, Schenley offers trails to hike and loads of trees to wander through.
Aside from the main park entrances, there are trails from Schenley Oval so while the kids are at soccer practice or playing tennis on the courts, you can take a quick walk through the woods. There are also trail entrances at Anderson Playground (or, what I grew up calling it, the Dinosaur Park) and Bartlett Playground so the kids can start and/or end the hike on the swings and slides.
No matter what season, Schenley is a beautiful park to explore, but the fall colors make the walk extra special. For more details on trails to hike or other activities to enjoy within and around the park, click here.
For a more intense hiking experience than Schenley Park, Frick Park is a wonderful option. With steeper and longer trails, the park offers workouts paired with a side of wildlife. Being such a large park it allows for even more seclusion from city life and you can wander around the different trails for days.
Like Schenley, there are some fun playgrounds in the park for kids like Blue Slide Park (a personal favorite) and the Forbes and Braddock Playground. There are also a few dog parks like Hot Dog Damn (pending the repair of the Fern Hollow Bridge collapse) and Frick’s Large Dog and Small Dog parks where you can let your dogs run around off-leash.
Though not as big as Schenley or Frick, Highland Park is another leaf-peeping option for a city escape. With lots of pavilions for picnics, Farmhouse Playground and the Super Playground for play, dog parks, and a path to walk around the reservoir, there are loads of activities within the park. The trails are not nearly as long as the previous two parks, but they still offer a peaceful walk through the trees for an autumnal experience.
Source: Pittsburgh's Victorian Gem
Boyce Park is another option for a day in the forest, especially if you fully want to leave the city. Though it’s not as close as Schenley, Frick, or Highland Park, it’s not too far of a drive from Pittsburgh. With multiple recreational activities like basketball courts, a wave pool for the summer months, skiing and snowboarding slopes for the winter months, and a variety of trails to hike, Boyce Park offers plenty of outdoor entertainment options.
Fall Run Park
Known for being home to one of the biggest waterfalls in the Pittsburgh area, Fall Run Park is another perfect place to get your forest fix. The main hiking trail is only a mile out and back, but it’s the scenery that really counts. Full of towering trees, a small creek that runs along the trail, and even a few fairy gardens hidden in the rocks and tree stumps, Fall Run is a magical autumn outing.
Source: Discover the Burgh
Other Notable Parks and Forests of Pittsburgh
Riverview Park located on the North Side
Boyce Mayview Park which is not to be confused with Boyce Park (they are in opposite directions)
Ohiopyle is definitely not a quick drive from the city, but there many hiking and bike trails, beautiful waterfalls, and white water rafting if you can bear the freezing water
Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve located in Fox Chapel