Riverview Park Pittsburgh – Serenity and Jazz in Observatory Hill

Posted By Angie in Explore


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Riverview Park is perhaps our favorite city park in Pittsburgh. With miles and miles of densely wooded trails, Allegheny Observatory, a swimming pool, tennis courts, and an off-leash dog park, this lesser-known Pittsburgh gem is a true urban oasis.

History Built Right In at Riverview Park

In addition to abundant natural beauty, Riverview Park has a good bit of historical value as well. The Chapel Shelter actually used to be a Presbyterian church, was closed and set for demolition in 2005, but then brought back to life via a major restoration project in 2008. This is the most-reserved shelter in all of Pittsburgh's parks, popular for graduation parties and weddings. You can reserve it online up to 365 days in advance- and you will likely need to in order to secure it!

Observatory Hilltop in Pittsburgh

Another historic landmark at the park is the Allegheny Observatory. Built over a ten-year period in the early 1900s, the building is just as cool as the telescopes it houses. It is on the National Register of Historical Places and considered a historic landmark by the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation. The observatory gives free tours on Friday nights from April through October; reservations are required and are made via phone. We've had the pleasure of taking the tour several times, and it's quite fun for getting a glimpse into Pittsburgh's past as well as observing the night sky through the Fitz-Clark refractor.

Low Visitor Concentrations Means the Park is All Yours

Trails at Riverview Park

We had never visited the park portion of Riverview Park until we moved to the North Side, which is a shame because it's a fantastic spot. We initially visited for the fenced-in dog park located next to the observatory. It was there we learned from fellow dog owners about all the great hiking trails in the park, and how horseback riding is even permitted on them (bet our dog would love to see a horse!).

Trail Markings at Riverview Park

We came back shortly thereafter to do some hiking and found ourselves hiking out to Snyder's Point via the Pope's View Trail. As the park is indeed on high ground that drops off steeply in all directions, we were hoping for some sort of view. However, the vegetation is quite thick and doesn't give much in the way of views. But the lush, serene trails more than made up for it. Our dog absolutely loved the trails, too- especially when we came upon several deer.

In contrast with most of the other city parks, this one feels like it gets much less hiking traffic, which makes for some peaceful time in nature- all without ever leaving the city!

Summer Jazz Concert Series

Citiparks Riverview Jazz Series

One of our favorite things about Riverview Park is the summer jazz series which takes place between mid-June and the end of August. Every Saturday night a different jazz performer takes the stage for a 90 minute set- for free. All you have to do is show up, bring a lawn chair or blanket, a bottle of wine if you like (although not officially sanctioned, many people bring them anyway), and enjoy the performance.

For those who want even more entertainment, Citiparks puts on a free movie at Riverview Park immediately following the performance as well!

Visiting Riverview Park

Dogs Love Riverview Park

The main entrance to Riverview Park is accessed off of Perrysville Avenue. The main parking areas are at the top of the hill by the observatory, at the base of the hill near the playground, and at the Chapel Shelter. Many of the park's numerous trails start and end in these areas, making for a perfect out-and-back hike.

Trail information is quite limited at times, so it is best to download a copy of the park's map from the Riverview Park website ahead of time onto your phone so you have everything at your fingertips.  That being said, even if you get lost most every trail ultimately connects up to a main road that you can use to walk back to the parking areas.

Want to grab something to eat before or after the show? Head down to the North Side for a meal at Max's Allegheny Tavern, Peppi's, or head over to Scratch Food and Beverage in Troy Hill!

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