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Backpacking around Pittsburgh
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Nathan Wernette
(werne1nm) - M

Locale: Michigan
Backpacking around Pittsburgh on 03/13/2014 12:12:54 MDT Print View

My wife and I are headed there in mid april (17th-25th) We are hoping to get in some good backpacking maybe 4 days or so.

Anyone know of good trails down that way?

John Rowan
(jrowan) - M
Black Forest Trail on 03/13/2014 17:42:15 MDT Print View

It really depends on your definition of "around," but the Black Forest Trail is a nice hike that's sort of in the area. It's about 3h 40m from Pittsburgh (did a quick Google Maps check), and runs something like 43 miles. The BFT usually comes up pretty quickly in discussions about the best trails in PA.

It also looks like you're about 3-3.5 hours from Monongahela NF, which has a lot of options, although I can't speak from experience there.

My perspective on what counts as a reasonable amount of driving is probably a bit skewed, since I do a lot of weekend trips driving from Philadelphia to Shenandoah NP. (5ish hours each day, more with traffic)

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Yinzer input on 03/13/2014 18:19:38 MDT Print View

I'm originally from Pittsburgh and... no. Not really. Not close to the city.

When I visited my parents a while ago I hiked the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, which is quite nice, but a bit far from the city. One terminus is Ohiopyle, and outfitters there offer shuttles. I enjoyed it a lot, but that area was practically my second home as a kid, so I may be biased. It's about 70 miles, with many options for chopping it into smaller pieces. It might work great for four days.

Most decent hiking is in the center of the commonwealth like that.

Black Forest has been mentioned (ninja'd- curse you, John!). There's also Black Moshannon State Park, which has big loop hike that is doable in a weekend, called the Allegheny Front Trail. It's 42 miles. It's close to State Park, so you might be mingling with college kids. There are a bunch of trails in Allegheny National Forest, and I think there's even a guidebook, but that's quite a ways from the city. The North Country Trail is 95 miles, but it's so far from the city that part of it is in New York.

Some that I've heard of but never done are:
The Baker Trail, from the northern suburbs to Allegheny National Forest, 132 miles. There are shelters. And a guidebook.
The Warrior trail is 67 miles from Greenboro into West Virginia. I know essentially nothing else about it.

There's the Great Allegheny Passage, a rails-to-trails system that connects to the C&O towpath route in Maryland all the way to Washington D.C. Biking the whole route is on my life list for someday. It's not wilderness near Pittsburgh, though- and there are a lot of bicyclists. It passes within a literal stone's throw of my parent's house, though. It's actually rather nice, and there are companies that will drop you off and pick you up anywhere along it that you like, and rent you a bike.

I haven't lived there in decades, though, so my info is probably dated. Hopefully others will speak up.

Edited by acrosome on 03/13/2014 18:37:16 MDT.

John Rowan
(jrowan) - M
Re: Yinzer input on 03/13/2014 18:49:45 MDT Print View

I think the Black Forest Trail is pretty much the immediate default response to any question about BP'ing in PA.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Yinzer input on 03/13/2014 19:03:04 MDT Print View

"Close to Pittsburgh" I tend to think of the LHHT. Stop by Laurel Caverns on the way!

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Backpacking around Pittsburgh on 03/13/2014 20:27:40 MDT Print View

"Get a big map and look for open spaces..."

This is something I post a lot when it comes to finding places to hike.

I travel at least a couple times a month on business all over the U.S. and I can always find places to hike. Usually I keep my UL kit inside my big suitcase and figure out where to go once I get to my destination. I don't have time to plan ahead. Because I am flying all over the country I really don't get a good feel for local geography either (e.g., exactly where places are located).

Last year I had to work in Johnstown, PA. Not exactly sure where it is, because I drive via GPS once I get off a plane. But it took me around 90 minutes or maybe more to get there from the Pittsburgh airport. Anyway, I found a trail that was probably 60 miles long. Hike was fun, don't remember the name of the trail. But I remember it was autumn and the colors were fabulous.

I also did a business trip last year near Allentown, PA. I thought it was going to be an industrial area, but I brought my pack anyway. Found out is was close to the Appalachian Trail and the hiking there was outstanding. Lots of interesting rock formations. This is close to Philadelphia and there probably is easy public transportation between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, and a bit of a drive to the AT from Philly -- think it was less than an hour.

I bet I can find a lot more in western Pennsylvania, as it seems most of it is covered by forests. Gonna be in that area again in a few weeks and will find something interesting to hike. Suggest you get a big map and have fun figuring something out.

Hiking back east is a lot different from what I am used to out west. Trails cross roads and are often near towns. Also there are a lot of those shelter thingies to sleep in. Not sure if it required to sleep in a shelter or even get a permit to hike. I don't do either. No time for that.

Enjoy your trip.

(drown) - F - MLife

Locale: Shenandoah
Ohiopyle on 03/13/2014 20:32:51 MDT Print View

Ohiopyle State Park ( has some nice day hikes and is also the terminal for the Laurel Highland Trail (70 miles). A beautiful area in the spring and fall. Also convenient for a visit to some Frank Lloyd Wright architecture.