Pittsburgh Hiking, Emerald View Park

Pittsburgh Hiking, Emerald View Park

These little-known trails offer all of the views, none of the traffic. 

The view of downtown Pittsburgh from the exit of the Fort Pitt tunnel inspired the New York Times to declare, “This is the only city in America with an entrance.” But this famous view is fleeting, continually interrupted by the need to navigate four lanes of traffic, multiple exits, and merge points. The trick to enjoying the view in peace? Hike to it. Emerald View Park wraps Mount Washington’s steep hillsides and contains some of the city’s best vistas. 

You can thank a tornado for this unlikely oasis. The idea to stitch together the scattered trails, parks, and public spaces on Mount Washington was initially envisioned during the clean-up from a rare twister that touched down in 1998. That led to years of work to reclaim the rugged hillsides from invasive plants, illegal dumping, coal mining subsidence, and erosion. In the 1700s, there was so much mining in the area that it was known as Coal Hill. It’s now an unexpected urban greenspace along the outskirts of the Mount Washington, Allentown, and Duquesne Heights neighborhoods. But despite its proximity and easy access, it’s not well-known.  

Officially unveiled on Earth Day 2007, this 257-acre park has over 10 miles of easy to moderate hiking trails. The trails are well-marked and have plenty of options for short loops or a long ramble. The trails are narrow and steep in sections, and you should expect to dodge muddy spots year-round. You can also hop on one of two historic inclines in the area; they used to ferry miners up and down the steep hills, but now hikers can use the cable cars to connect trails. 

Recommended route: For a six-mile loop, park at the Duquesne Incline and enter the trail system at the Point of View Statue. Head west and hike past Skookum Field to meet up with the Duquesne Heights Greenway. Ramble your way to Olympia Park, then take the quiet city streets into the Mount Washington Business District. From there, it’s a short walk to the Monongahela (Mon) Incline. Take that down into Station Square and take the riverfront trail back to your car.

Getting There: Four public parking lots provide trail access (off of State Route 51 and Carson Street), and the Port Authority has numerous bus routes running near the trails. 

More Info: Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

Where to Eat/Drink

On your way to the Mon Incline, stop by Coughlin’s Law (https://www.eatatcoughlinslaw.com/) for a drink and a snack. With 42 rotating taps, locally sourced ingredients, and outdoor seating, Coughlin makes for a great post-hike break.