UPDATED JUL 8, 2020
In Pittsburgh, running is in our DNA. And whether it was your first love or something you’re coming around to, there are miles of woodsy trails, urban paths, and lively neighborhoods to explore. We’ve run them all, and these are the best.
One of Pittsburgh's largest green spaces, Frick Park is 644 acres of all-terrain running adventure. With beautifully maintained trails, environmental ambiance, and an off-leash area for your four-legged running buddy, it's an urban escape that both experienced runners and outdoorsy joggers can enjoy. Our suggestion: Try out the Frick Park Tour Loop, a hilly route that's just under five miles and takes you along the park's perimeter. If you want to avoid the hills, run it counterclockwise.
Prepare to get lost in over 24 miles of Pittsburgh history. The Three Rivers Heritage Trail is a combination of the best running, walking, and biking trails throughout the city, connecting neighborhoods, sights, sounds, and cultures. North Shore Trail, Millvale Trail, Eliza Furnace Trail, South Side Steel Valley Trail, and more are all part of this awesome network of paved wonderland, maintained by Friends of the Riverfront. Need a place to start? Check out the northern segment of the trail, which begins at the Millvale Riverfront Park. Once you reach the rail trestle on the left, take it up for a view of downtown and easy running along a quiet gravel path.
The South Side Riverfront Trail is a beautiful spot for a sunny afternoon run. But, it's super popular, so be prepared to share this paved riverside trail with fellow joggers, rollerbladers, bikers, and dogs. The run route starts at 4th St. in Station Square and ends five miles later at Riverfront Park, 18th Street South Side, where you can lounge on the lawn or celebrate your run with a drink at Hofbrauhaus' open air beer garden — and we highly recommend you do.
Long-distance runners, this one's for you. The Great Allegheny Passage (aka GAP Trail) is a woodsy, 150-mile trail that stretches all the way to Maryland. From Pittsburgh, you can connect to it via the portion of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail in Point State Park. Cruise along the Monogahela, through PA towns and secluded wilderness as you crunch across the crushed limestone course. Run as long as you'd like and double back, or keep going and camp alongside the trail for an overnight adventure.
When it comes to running routes, Riverview Park has options. This 259-acre woodland boasts steep hillside trails for hikers and joggers and a paved two-mile loop for road racers. And since it's just outside the city in the Perry North neighborhood, you can pretty much count on having the path to yourself. Sweat it out on the trails, then take a seat on the lawn of Observatory Hill for live jazz music, played every Saturday night during the summer.
This massive, 3,075-acre park is known for everything from paddle-boarding to picnics but we love it for its running trails. Try the North Park Lake Trail, a five-mile loop around the lake that features its own pedestrian and bicycle lanes. It’s perfect for all speeds — walkers, joggers, runners, and sprinters. Or, take try out on one of the wooded paths for some solid trail running.
Looking for a good place to get active in the middle of the city? Try 456 acres of trail, woodland, and running bliss on for size. Schenley Park in Oakland is packed with the rolling hills and steep climbs that make up the Pittsburgh Race for the Cure 5k route. If you’re up for the challenge, take Forbes Ave. and connect to one of the trails in Frick Park.
The Montour Trail is another run route built on history. Intended as a way to move coal from mines in Mifflin and Library to the hotbed of the steel activity in Pittsburgh, the converted railroad was repurposed to become the longest suburban rail-trail in the U.S. It’s a rural, 60-plus-mile path full of dark tunnels, smooth terrain, and wooden bridges. Even better, it spans from Coraopolis to Clairton and features the trail-side coffee and ice cream shops of Arrowhead Trail in Peters Township — which makes for the perfect pitstop on a hot summer day.
Often called the “Jail Trail,” this paved wonder winds past the Allegheny County Jail, right between Second Ave. and the Parkway East. Enjoy a medium-length, 5.7-mile run as you pound the pavement past Pittsburgh signage from the steel days and other skyline sights.
Ever get so lost in a run, you don’t know where you went? We know the feeling. And if you start on the South Side’s Riverfront Trail, you may just end up on the Steel Valley Trail in the blink of the eye. The route has Pennsylvania steel roots and winds with the railroad all the way to McKees Point at McKeesport and Clairton. While you jog, don’t be surprised to catch the distinct Potato Patch Fry smell, as the trail wraps around Kennywood on the way to the Waterfront.
Whether you’re planning a casual jog or PR-breaking run, Highland Park provides the space and amenities to achieve both. Take in the reservoirs, sculptures, and gardens with a quick jaunt through the park. And if you've down for some speed work, definitely opt for the Reservoir Loop — it’s a cool 1.3-mile loop that you can take for as many or as few laps as you like.
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