We are very fortunate in Pittsburgh to have many parks located in close proximity to the city. One of the largest outside of the city limits is South Park, located in Bethel Park / South Park Township, and is home to many amenities and activities suitable for just about everyone- including hikers like us!
What You Can See at South Park
South Park is one of those places that has something for everyone. The park is home to numerous public spaces with covered picnic spots, many playgrounds for children, wave pool, horse stable, fairgrounds, and much, much more.
As such, the best reason to visit this park is not for the hiking trails, but is rather to come down with friends, family, or a large group in order to spend some time out in the gorgeous nature and large pavilions.
However, for those who wish to take a hike amongst the trees, South Park does offer a few hiking trails ranging from one to six miles which we set out to explore during our recent visit. During which we got to enjoy a bit of nature, take in some bird watching (including a great assortment of woodpeckers), and see some of the summer wild flowers at their peak.
Hiking in South Park
When it comes to hiking at South Park, we unfortunately left fairly underwhelmed.
The reason for this is because there are only four listed hiking trails in the park, and other than the main “trail” which simply follows the road through the center of the park, the remaining are not that well marked at their entrances. Considering there are signs for just about everything there is to do in the park, except the hiking trails (at least where we were), we thought this was a bit odd.
We spent a good bit of our morning trying to find two of the hiking trails that were listed on the Allegheny County park's map, and would've probably given up altogether had we not found one (the Fairgrounds Trail) by chance while wandering around near where we thought it was supposed to be.
The trail itself was quite fine to hike; however, at time the trail blazes were few and far between. Throw in the fact that there are many unmarked detours you can take in the park, the trail lends itself for the significant chance of getting lost. Where this may be an non-issue in other parks, as most trails end up near where you started no matter what, this one has the potential to lead you off significantly from where you intend to go.
So if you are looking towards hiking in South Park, be sure to pay attention to those trail markers, or stick to the paved trails of the Maple Spring Loop (if you can find it) or the Corrigan Walkway which simply follows the main road.
Overall, South Park is not the place we would go to with hiking in mind (although we do want to tackle the six mile Bison Ridge Trail in the future); however, if you are looking to enjoy a park with many amenities either with a small group of friends all the way up to a large group, you cannot go wrong in visiting!
South Park is located approximately 10 miles south of downtown Pittsburgh just off of route 88 in Bethel Park / South Park Township. Download a digital copy of the park map here. In the fall South Park is home to Hundred Acres Manor haunted house as well!
South Park is also one of the features in the amazing book “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Pittsburgh Edition” that we are working through as a part of this series. If you are interested in day hikes near the city we highly recommend picking this one up!
On your way back from South Park, grab a beer from one of the many Pittsburgh breweries nearby like Spoonwood Brewery, Hitchhiker Brewery, or Mindful Brewing! For more Allegheny County parks, click the previous link!