Winter is usually a time for hibernation, staying cozy in the bed and watching the next episode of Bridgerton as the sun disappears from the cold, crisp day. (Who are we joking, we know the sun is a rare occurrence around these three rivers.) As flurries spurt and social distancing separate us, here are a few hiking snapshots to explore safely around Route 28 as we bundle up, opt outside, and take a breather [before we all get cabin fever…].
1. Fox Chapel Parks Conservancy
Newly established in late 2020, the creation of the Fox Chapel Parks Conservancy dedicates itself to the care and protection of Fox Chapel’s parks and trail system. Preservation has become the main focus, and the conservancy has reflected a resounding success in its supervision of Hardie Valley, a 20-acre expansion to the conservancy, formerly owned by Mr. Rogers. Quickly to become an admired escape, hikers can take a stroll in the area and even discover a waterfall close by. The conservancy will also have its continued 4-part seasonal lantern installations coming up with a lantern forest walk in the spring on March 20, a lantern party set for summer, and a lantern trail illumination in the fall as it connects communities and light into the parks all year. As the fresh nonprofit continues to establish its roots in the area, woodland wanderers can help with donations that go directly to the Fox Chapel Parks Conservancy. The Fox Chapel Borough also has intimate trail systems under 1.65 miles or less. So go take a hike!
2. Etna Urban Walking Trail
Nothing beats the Downtown views of the riverfront trails, but exploring small neighborhoods to peruse small shops and local landmarks through an urban hike is a great way to get to know a neighborhood. The Etna Urban Walking Trail has seven friendly, frolicking urban loops that encompass the borough. Focused on safe, enjoyable, and energizing routes, the trail system became a community project with the Etna EcoDistrict and the 2019 Shaler Area GATE students with support from the Borough of Etna, Etna Economic Development Corporation (EEDC), and the Etna Community Organization (ECO). Trail routes range from easy, intermediate, or difficult, and pedestrians can download the urban walking loops right here.
3. Fall Run Park
Consisting of 93.65 acres, Fall Run Park is Shaler’s largest park and has become an ultimate fan-favorite for diving into its woodland ravine. Pittsburgher’s should risk crossing a bridge or two to engage with the surrounding nature and enjoy the frosted forest views during the colder months. Easy and breezy, the park has a mile-long nature trail that has a show-stopping waterfall as any level of hiker travels deeper into the woods. It’s a place to capture pandemic pod moments, find peace in the present, and appreciate the valley-like landscape. Plus, enjoy the soothing water sounds from the guiding creek.
4. Aspinwall Riverfront Park
The Aspinwall Riverfront Park has quickly developed into an accessible, public space for almost every outside activity as it once was the Aspinwall Marina property. Combining its history with its recent developments, the area has a winding quarter-mile walking trail as well as its Boo Boo & Tiger dog park with two larger-than-life blue lounge chairs to relax in as your pup speed dashes inside the closed fenced area. Along with parts of the trail, walkers can relax in additional designated lounge chairs and overlook the area’s fishing docks on the river’s edge and the industrial railroad bridge that towers above. The ten-acre space even has a sculpture playground, a sledding hill, and offers free ice skating (weather permitting) with free skates to borrow on the weekends. The beautiful landscape offers multiple avenues of winter wonderland activities as the park connects its community with nature in a sustainable way. The Aspinwall Riverfront Park can be found on Facebook and Instagram, and nature lovers can donate directly here as the park hopes to acquire 1.5 miles of extended trail as its next eco-friendly goal with its 10th anniversary coming up. Be sure to check out what the park offers all-year-round from swings on the fishing dock, kayaking, and more also.
Do you have a must-visit trail to share?? Let us know in the comments!This content was provided by a local, independent contributor to Made in PGH, a lifestyle blog.