Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Face the Frost: Go Daytripping on Winter Hikes in Pittsburgh

There’s a magical, snowy landscape right in your backyard.




photos by chuck beard

 

It’s true that the Inuit people, who thrive on frigid Baffin Island in northern Canada, have many words for “snow.” One that Pittsburghers should adopt is aqilokoq — “softly falling snow.” This is what we saw on a bitter February day after donning boots and layers of flannel and fleece to explore a few miles of Girty’s Run. Frozen in spots and gurgling in others, the narrow creek — a tributary of the Allegheny River — winds through Ross, Shaler and Millvale.

It’s named after young Simon Girty, whose family lived near the creek in the mid-18th century. Simon’s father was killed by the Seneca tribe, which had hunted along the creek for many generations. The tribe took in the boy and raised him as their own.

A winter hike along Girty’s Run makes for a fun day trip to the North Hills, but chances are good a similar trail runs within a couple miles of your neighborhood. Brave the chill and head outdoors for an Arctic adventure of your own.
 


 

Where to go

  • North Park
     
  • South Park
     
  • McConnells Mill State Park
     
  • Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy
     
  • Frick Park
     
  • Highland Park Trail
     
  • Three Rivers Heritage Trail
     


 

What you’ll need

  • Snowshoes, hiking boots and/or waterproof boots; it depends on where you go. After a heavy snowfall, snowshoes are a blast for a forest trek. If the ground is solid, wear insulated, calf-high boots. If you plan to slosh through Girty’s Run, which is quite shallow in places, take waterproof boots. And don’t forget the insulated socks and toe warmers.
     
  • Snacks. Protein bars and dried fruit hit the spot on a cold hike.
     
  • Bottled water. Hiking in low temps is strenuous work.
     
  • Layers of clothing. Plus gloves and earmuffs are mighty comfortable for sensitive fingers and ears.
     
  • Backpack. To carry your stuff.
     
  • Camera. To document your travels.
     
  • Cell phone. In case of emergency.
     


 

What to look for

  • Wildlife. Step quietly to see deer, rabbits, squirrels, birds and more in their natural habitat. 
     
  • Geocaches. Join the world’s largest treasure hunt at geocaching.com.
     
  • Fellow travelers. Hiking is more fun when you share the experience with friends.  
     

Related: 20 Great Biking & Hiking Trails in Western Pennsylvania
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

More than 270 Events Announced for Remake Learning’s 9-Day Festival

The festival has gained national attention for its innovative design.

Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2018

Pittsburgh’s medical lifesavers rated by their peers, including anesthesiologists, cardiologists, dermatologists, neurologists, ophthalmologists, pediatricians, psychiatrists, surgeons, urologists & many more.

How Pittsburgh is Advancing the Care for the Young

Meet four physicians making breakthroughs in medical care to improve the lives of Pittsburgh’s children and adolescents.

‘Conversations’: 8 Interesting People Revive a Lost Art

We sit down with hockey coaches, college students, farmers and the mayors of two cities to see what they had to say.

Restaurant Review: Bitter Ends Garden & Luncheonette is a Sweet Success

Becca Hegarty’s establishment in Bloomfield blends contemporary sourcing with old-fashioned community for a simple yet satisfying neighborhood restaurant.

Avalanche of Info. Shouldn’t Confuse Steelers’ Draft Aspirations

The Steelers could choose a Hercules, a bouncer or a guy with a big butt that he can “anchor,” but can any of them catch a javelin?

After a Decade of Fun, A Strong Avengers Goes Dark

A spoiler-free review of "Avengers: Infinity War."

Watch: Boujee the French Bulldog Breaks Free

Juju Smith-Schuster’s dog makes some sweet aerial moves to get out of its cage.

A Bitter Pennsylvania Rivalry Is the Focus of a New Movie

Few questions spark such intense debate as “Wawa or Sheetz?” A local filmmaker hopes to answer which regional chain reigns supreme.

Kraft Heinz Squeezes Out New Ketchup with Vintage Taste

Can a recipe from 1896 still taste as good?

Tour It: Historic Wilkinsburg Mansion Gets a Makeover

The Junior League of Pittsburgh's Show House is a 112-year-old mansion featuring 28 rooms decorated by a different local design professionals.

Today’s Home Relocating North Hills Furniture Store

Owner Jeff Lenchner says a Discount Tire store will open in place of the store’s current location along McKnight Road in Ross Township.

Is Gabby Barrett the Next Carrie Underwood?

The 18-year-old singer from Munhall wowed the “American Idol” judges once again.

17 Vintage Photos of the Steel City of Old

Take a trip back to a very different Pittsburgh.

These Creative Couples Transformed the Traditional Guestbook

Find out why these couples ditched the traditional guestbook and instead chose a drum head, a giant wooden letter and a dictionary for their guests to sign.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


More than 270 Events Announced for Remake Learning’s 9-Day Festival

More than 270 Events Announced for Remake Learning’s 9-Day Festival

The festival has gained national attention for its innovative design.

Comments

Watch: Boujee the French Bulldog Breaks Free

Watch: Boujee the French Bulldog Breaks Free

Juju Smith-Schuster’s dog makes some sweet aerial moves to get out of its cage.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
First Look: Soju in Garfield

First Look: Soju in Garfield

Simon Chough’s Korean restaurant is six years in the making.

Comments

New Chefs Coming to Smallman Galley

New Chefs Coming to Smallman Galley

Smallman Galley will rotate its third class of chef/owners this June … but this time there’s a twist.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The 2018 Return of the Burgh-y Mother's Day Gift Guide

The 2018 Return of the Burgh-y Mother's Day Gift Guide

It's back! From the dog mom to the working mom, we've got you covered with these locally made must-haves.

Comments

The 5 Best Places to People Watch in Pittsburgh

The 5 Best Places to People Watch in Pittsburgh

A coffee shop, an iconic landmark, an airport and beyond — these are the best places to practice the art of people watching.

Comments


Coughlin's Law Wants To Be Your Mount Washington Destination

Coughlin's Law Wants To Be Your Mount Washington Destination

Notes on the busy new bar and restaurant near Grandview Avenue.

Comments

Smallman Galley Goes 3D With Its New Cocktail Menu

Smallman Galley Goes 3D With Its New Cocktail Menu

The bar team at the Strip District restaurant incubator continues its flights of fancy with Flashback Flavors.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Avalanche of Info. Shouldn’t Confuse Steelers’ Draft Aspirations

Avalanche of Info. Shouldn’t Confuse Steelers’ Draft Aspirations

The Steelers could choose a Hercules, a bouncer or a guy with a big butt that he can “anchor,” but can any of them catch a javelin?

Comments

Patriot Games Can’t Diminish Harrison’s Place in Steelers History

Patriot Games Can’t Diminish Harrison’s Place in Steelers History

James Harrison intimidated opposing players in a way not seen since the days of Jack Lambert and Mean Joe Greene.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
After a Decade of Fun, A Strong Avengers Goes Dark

After a Decade of Fun, A Strong Avengers Goes Dark

A spoiler-free review of "Avengers: Infinity War."

Comments

I Feel Pretty Isn't What You're Expecting (And That's Okay)

I Feel Pretty Isn't What You're Expecting (And That's Okay)

Reviews of "I Feel Pretty" and "Super Troopers 2," plus a rundown of events at the Pittsburgh Underground Film Festival.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
These Creative Couples Transformed the Traditional Guestbook

These Creative Couples Transformed the Traditional Guestbook

Find out why these couples ditched the traditional guestbook and instead chose a drum head, a giant wooden letter and a dictionary for their guests to sign.

Comments

The Best Ways to Reuse and Repurpose Wedding Decor

The Best Ways to Reuse and Repurpose Wedding Decor

From new decor in the home to donations to charity, check out these ways to repurpose leftover wedding decor.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Tour It: Historic Wilkinsburg Mansion Gets a Makeover

Tour It: Historic Wilkinsburg Mansion Gets a Makeover

The Junior League of Pittsburgh's Show House is a 112-year-old mansion featuring 28 rooms decorated by a different local design professionals.

Comments

Today’s Home Relocating North Hills Furniture Store

Today’s Home Relocating North Hills Furniture Store

Owner Jeff Lenchner says a Discount Tire store will open in place of the store’s current location along McKnight Road in Ross Township.

Comments