Reservoir at Highland Park. Photo by Janna Leyde.

Hiking: it’s not just for the woods anymore.

Pennsylvania is known for its acres of wilderness — nearly 60 percent of the state is forested — but there are plenty of places to hike in and around the city while enjoying the ambers, crimsons and golds of the season.

“You can go hiking anywhere,” says Lora Woodward, program director for the nonprofit Venture Outdoors. “It’s just a matter of getting outside and enjoying the environment that you’re in. You’re still getting exercise, and just being outdoors is good for your well-being.”

Bonus points if you can grab a snack along the way.

To get you started — or to challenge you — we offer 10 great places in the city to take a hike.

Things to do in bloomfield
Bloomfield mural. Photo by Tracy Certo.

1. Pittsburgh’s Little Italy, Bloomfield

Distance: One to three miles

Go: Find parking along Liberty Avenue and riff off this route produced by Urban Hike that takes you around the neighborhood in a loop.

Level of difficulty: Easy

Highlights: On Ewing Street, you’ll go by Paul J. Sciullo Memorial Park, renamed for the Pittsburgh police officer who was tragically slain in 2009 while on duty. Look for the Sidewall Project on South Millville Ave., where art is featured on the side of a private home. There’s no shortage of places to grab a snack, but we recommend reloading on carbs at Sanchioli Brothers Bakery (4731 Juniper St.), where the family has been turning out hearth-baked bread since 1921.

This neighborhood’s nickname, Little Italy, comes from the large number of immigrants from the Abruzzi area of Italy who settled there. The name Bloomfield comes from a journal entry by George Washington, who described the area as a “field of many blooms.”

Suggested route for Manchester via Urban Hike.

2. Historic mansions of Manchester

Distance: About three miles

Go: Park along West North Ave. in Manchester, and use this route from Urban Hike for guidance as you wind along city streets past mansions and the Bicycle Heaven museum and shop.

Level of difficulty: Easy

Highlights: This route will take you by the Langenheim House at 1315 Liverpool St., a mansion set to be demolished before the newly-organized Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation and area residents rescued it in the late 1960s. Manchester was an economic center in the late 1900s and the architecture reflects that — elaborate Gothic Empire, Queen Anne, Richardsonian Romanesque and other styles are prominent. For refueling, there are several restaurants on nearby Western Ave., such as Lindos (947 Western Ave.), a neighborhood spot that serves breakfast all day.

That quintessential Mt. Washington view. Photo by Brian Conway.

3. City views, Mt. Washington

Distance: One to three miles

Go: Emerald View Park on Mt. Washington leads you around the neighborhood with a stop at the famous overlook. The Mt. Washington Community Development Corp. has several suggested routes through the park. On October 21, Venture Outdoors is leading a four-mile fall colors hike through the park starting at 9 a.m.

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Highlights: This city park loops around Mt. Washington for postcard-like views of Downtown, the North Shore and the West End. Bingham Tavern (321 Bingham St.), or Café Cravings Coffee Shop (402 Bingham St.), are a couple of good options for refueling.

4. Wilderness in the City, Observatory Hill

Distance: One to five miles

Go: Explore the wooded trails of Riverview Park, noted by markers at specific points along the way, or walk the two-mile loop for a less rugged hike.

Level of difficulty: Moderate. There’s a dedicated trail for pedestrians around a paved roadway loop, but the park is hilly.

Highlights: Wandering through the woods in this 259-acre park, with abundant deer and dense woods, it’s easy to forget you’re five minutes from Downtown. Leashed dogs are permitted in the park, and there is a dog park behind the Allegheny Observatory, located at the park’s entrance. Schorr Family Bakery (3912 Perrysville Ave.), a short walk from the park, is a fixture in this neighborhood offering freshly baked doughnuts, pastries and cookies until mid-day.

5. South Side steps

Distance: One mile and up

Go: Start at the intersection of 15th and Carson St. Try the “church route” which was mapped by the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association, and will take you on some of the steps, and past many churches.

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Highlights: The city has 712 public stairways — more steps than any other city in the country — and the South Side Slopes has the greatest concentration of public stairs than any other Pittsburgh neighborhood, according to the Neighborhood Association. Historically, steps provided a practical way to get around instead of navigating the windy, steep streets. The church route offers panoramic views of the city with stops at historic churches along the way. For example, off Hackstown Street, there are 78 steps to St. Joseph’s Way, which places walkers on the level with St. Michael’s Church steeple. (The church was built in 1848.)

The Association’s annual Step Trek, which takes trekkers up and down to views of the city, is set for October 7. Any number of refueling options — from a milkshake to bagels or burgers — abound on East Carson St.

Allentown and Mt. Washington as seen from Grandview Park. Photo by Brian Conway.

6. Allentown

Distance: One to six miles

Go: Urban Hike offers a route through this city neighborhood that begins on Industry St. by the main business district.

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Highlights: Notable stops include the Knoxville Incline Overlook — an inclined railway which connected the South Side and Allentown until 1960 — and Grandview Park on Bailey Ave., with wide views of the city. Community groups such as the Hilltop Alliance have worked to attract new residents and revitalize the Arlington Ave. business district by offering financial incentives to locate there. There are many options for a bite in Allentown, including Breakfast at Shelly’s (740 East Warrington Ave.), Onion Maiden (639 East Warrington Ave.), Black Forge Coffee House (1206 Arlington Ave.) and Alla Famiglia (804 East Warrington Ave.).

7. Hill District history

Kimberly Palmiero is an independent journalist and business owner. She spent 25 years working for media companies in Pennsylvania and Illinois, most of that time as an editor on news desks. She left Trib Total Media in 2016 as a managing editor. A passionate journalist, she also is board president of the nonprofit Press Club of Western Pennsylvania (
In 2009, she founded a small business which acquires, refurbishes and rents residential property.
She enjoys running through city neighborhoods just after dawn. She may or may not cap off runs by drinking several espressos
She lives on the North Side.