Take A Trip To This Midwest City For The Most Breathtaking Winter Hike

The hiking trails in and around Pittsburgh are some of the best in the state. Situated in southwestern Pennsylvania along the Appalachian Plateau Province, the region is covered with walking and hiking paths for visitors to explore all year long. Though the city endures a cold and often snowy winter each year, the scenery on these hikes is just as breathtaking. The picturesque landscape, with its numerous hills and rivers, becomes particularly charming when covered in a blanket of snow.

The season typically spans from December to February, with temperature averages ranging between 20 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite the challenges that come with winter weather, it allows you to witness a different side of Pittsburgh's stunning nature. The bare trees, frozen streams, and occasional wildlife sightings make for an especially serene and peaceful atmosphere. It's like the perfect mini winter getaway for people who don't ski or are looking for less expensive, outdoorsy alternatives. With the right gear and tips on where to go, winter hiking in Pittsburgh makes for an awesome plan in the colder months. 

Best beginner level winter hiking in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The North Park Lake Trail, located in the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh, is perfect for winter hiking. An approximately 5-mile loop, this route takes hikers around the park's lake and through wooded areas. The trail offers a mix of flat sections and mild inclines, providing a beginner-friendly winter hike. With its snow-covered landscapes and lake views, it's a wonderful option. If you're interested in bird watching, hiking this trail in the winter will be especially exciting. All year long, the park attracts a unique variety of birds, and it's often easier to spot rare birds after the foliage has fallen away in the winter months, including bald eagles.

For a hike with a particularly dazzling view, head to the Emerald View Trail. This natural area is south of the Monongahela River near Mount Washington. You'll come across stunning panoramic views of downtown Pittsburgh and the surrounding landscapes. This trail is more challenging, and keep in mind that winter weather is less predictable and can pose additional obstacles. It's essential to check local trail conditions and dress appropriately. The sun also sets much earlier in the winter, so be sure to check how much daylight you will have on your hike.

How to prepare for a winter hike in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

One of the more difficult hikes in the area is considered Slippery Rock Gorge Trail in McConnells Mill State Park. If the name doesn't say it all, this trail is recommended only for experienced hikers with adequate outdoor gear. A little over 11 miles out and back, this trail starts at the parking lot known as "The Point." Hikers should be prepared for steep inclines and rocky terrain. Not surprisingly, this hiking path is slippery and slick. Be sure to wear appropriate shoes with plenty of traction and support to avoid losing your footing, especially in the winter months. 

If you want to take advantage of the snow and break out your cross-country skis, the Frick Park Loop is the trail for you. This loop is 5 miles long and moderately challenging, meandering through the Pittsburgh woodlands. A popular route for cross-country skiers, you can usually expect quality conditions along the loop's path. 

If you're looking for another fun way to shake up your winter hiking experience while in Pittsburgh, check out the non-profit Venture Outdoors. This organization offers group hikes throughout the winter which allows you to go with an experienced guide and make some friends along the way. Reserve a ticket and join a group of outdoor enthusiasts and trek together through Pittsburgh's stunning natural landscape.