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THE BEST OUTDOOR ADVENTURES TO TAKE NEAR PITTSBURGH

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RYAN DEER

JUL 25, 2019

We want to tell you something: Don’t ever lose your sense of adventure.

Jobs and stress and crowded gyms and a mountain of laundry can be a real downer. Sometimes you just need to leave it all behind. And if you’re ready to get lost, climb higher, bike farther, or just do something different, Pittsburgh will never let you down.

There are endless adventures waiting to be had all around us, be it on foot, in a kayak, or covered in mud. And we know the best spots to go for a thrill….and a really cool selfie.

Adventure awaits, yinz guys.

Maybe you’ve ridden the North Side riverwalk or biked the South Side Riverfront Trail. But go a little further and you’ve got a full-blown adventure on your hands. The Great Allegheny Passage, a historic former railway, is an epic journey that can take you 150 miles to Cumberland, MD (even to DC if you hop on the 184-mile C&O Canal Trail). You’ll get quaint trail towns, unbelievable scenery, and an unforgettable workout (aka sore legs). But don’t expect your crew to bike this in one day, though. You’ll need to stuff panniers (essentially bicycle saddlebags) with food, water, camping gear, extra bike tubes, and probably some bug spray to make it.

When it comes to swimming holes, usually cliff jumping or a waterfall provide the biggest thrill. But Ohiopyle State Park features one wild ride you have to take at least once (being real though, it’ll be more than once). Like a natural Sandcastle without the chlorine, sit down in the Meadow Run Natural Waterslides to be carried by the force of the water through the creek beds. When the water’s high, you’ll get shot down the creek in a hurry. That’s when you scurry back up the rocks for another go.

When you were a kid, climbing trees was an adventure any day of the week. As an adult, it usually makes the neighbors nervous. Luckily, Go Ape in North Park lets you monkey around on zip lines, Tarzan swings, and suspended obstacles in their two-to-three-hour forest canopy escapade. Just so you know: With 41 treetop crossings and 5 monster zip lines, it’s not uncommon to hear high-pitched screaming coming from the woods around you.

If you’re in Ohiopyle, you’re clearly itchin’ for adventure. So after you dry off from the waterslides, slip on your hiking boots and hoof it down the Meadow Run Trail. That three-mile trail is beautiful in its own right, but your journey (and probably life) isn’t complete without catching a glimpse of Cucumber Falls. Take trailhead under the SR 381 bridge and in less than a mile, you’ll have a 30ft. waterfall worthy of your undivided attention. Because really, who doesn’t love a waterfall?

Pittsburgh looks different from the water. And by different, we mean surreal. But if we’re going to be out there, we want be stand-up paddleboarding. Cruising around the Point and the three rivers gives you the incredible view, extra chill paddle time, and one heck of a workout. Plus, once you’ve found your sea legs, there’s more SUP adventures to be had – like SUP yoga, the South Side Outside Paddle and Music Festival, or the SUP Championships at Moraine State Park.

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As long as we’re talking PWC (that’s the coolest way to say personal watercraft), you should know that some of the most outdoorsy adventures come while kayaking. You can set out for a relaxing float or hardcore paddle, kick back or shoot some rapids. For all of these things and more, put in on the Youghiogheny River. Depending on where you launch, you and your friends can have that lazy Sunday river tour or wild white water kayak class.

We need to warn you: Hiking the Rachel Carson Trail is NOT one that you can do with phone and coffee in hand. Set out from the trailhead near North Park and steel yourself for 35.7 miles of steep, harsh, untamed wilderness. You can expect to walk into a few jaggerbushes (this is Pittsburgh), hike along steep bluffs, and attempt to cross creeks without bridges (wait – is this Pittsburgh?). Intimidated? Do it with friends during the Rachel Carson Trail Challenge; 34 miles during the longest day of the year. Trust us – you’ll need all the daylight you can get.

When you graduate from East End’s Climbing Wall, it may be time to take your talents to McConnells Mill State Park. There, experienced climbers can clamber up the rocks at two designated climbing areas: The Rim Road Climbing Area and the rock face near Breakneck Bridge (obviously, this can be dangerous). Top-rope, sport-rappel, or boulder your way through an epic day. But don’t you dare rappel off any of the historic covered bridges.

No, we’re not talking about last year’s skiing conditions. Seven Springs isn’t just for skiers. When there’s no snow in sight you can still take to the mountain on two wheels. Bust out your mountain bike and hit the trails or downhill bike park complete with table tops, boxes, fall line sections and 20+ foot jumps.

Though it may require a bit of a journey, this awesome river journey is one for you and all your friends. Rent one of those 16-person vans and road trip to Johnstown to float the Stonycreek River. Coal Tubin’ will latch a whole mess of inner tubes together for you and the crew to lazily float down a calm portion of the Stonycreek River. Take that time to work on your sun tan, nap, or attempt that sweet backflip you’ve been working on.

Unlock a Journey to Becoming Your Healthiest Self
UPMC Health Plan

Unlock a Journey to Becoming Your Healthiest Self

Get gamified help to exercise more and reduce stress with the Odyssey app by UPMC.

Unlock a Journey to Becoming Your Healthiest Self
UPMC Health Plan

Unlock a Journey to Becoming Your Healthiest Self

Get gamified help to exercise more and reduce stress with the Odyssey app by UPMC.

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