Photo: Pittsburgh Park Conservancy

Pittsburgh Trail Running: Frick Park

Frick Park's trail system has something for every trail runner.

Of the city's large parks, Frick has received the most attention to its trail system. The trails have evolved from a jumbled, unsigned mess to a well-maintained but still maze-like collection of multi-use trails (but trail names on the city’s park map are out of date). Trail runners will find everything from flat carriage paths to steep and challenging singletrack.

This 644-acre park is nestled into a valley surrounded by densely populated areas. Masses of young people from the Pitt and CMU campuses frequent the park, and it has well-developed infrastructure for diverse users, but somehow the park rarely feels crowded. There’s something magical about the happy chaos in Frick Park.

The improvements in the trail system here are primarily due to the work of Trail Pittsburgh. While this organization started as a mountain bike group, it also works on trails for hikers and runners. All the singletrack in Frick is multi-use. (Trail maintenance happens year-round, check Trail Pittsburgh’s website to volunteer.)

Newcomers to Frick can easily get confused by the park’s many hills and valleys and maze of trails. Just remember that you’re in a watershed; following the path of water will lead to the main trail that runs through the heart of the park. 

Photo: Woodsnorth

Recommended Routes

For a trail run with flexible options, park near the traffic circle at the intersection of Reynolds and South Homewood. From here, you can fill up a water bottle at the fountain near the only public lawn bowling greens in Pennsylvania. Warm up by taking the Homewood Trail to meet up with Tranquil Trail. Run south on Tranquil. Continue on this flat path until a large clearing and head up Falls Ravine Trail (also called the Social Trail) to the left until it hits a six-way intersection.

For a three-mile run, turn right, then take the following two rights on Nature Center Trail and then Bradema Trail. This is a mile of technical singletrack. It descends to Tranquil Trail and an easy return to the bowling greens for an approximately three-mile loop with 375 feet of elevation change.

For a longer option, veer left at the six-way intersection and take Bench Trail toward Blue Slide Park. Bench is another technical singletrack with plenty of exposed roots; mind the ankles. Bench turns into Trough Trail, which crosses Riverview Extension Trail. Turn left on Riverview Extension, which leads quickly back to the six-way junction. Head over to Bradema for a technical, singletrack traverse. This longer loop is about five miles with at least two miles of challenging singletrack and almost 500 feet of elevation change.

There are plenty of water fountains and a few restrooms scattered throughout the park. Some of the parking lots can get busy, such as the one on Braddock Avenue near the clay tennis courts, but there are always alternatives with plenty of space.

More Info

https://pittsburghparks.org/explore-your-parks/regional-parks/frick-park/

https://www.trailpittsburgh.org/

Where to Eat

Prohibition Pasties is tucked into a tiny storefront on Reynolds just a block away from the bowling greens. They sell the expected scones and sticky buns and special delights such as Lavender Bitters Brownies. Prohibition is also one of the few sources for handpies in Pittsburgh, with choices like Egg Sausage with Whiskey Cream. https://prohibition-pastries.square.site/

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.