Next to fishing and making s’mores around a crackling fire, it’s hard to imagine a more iconic camping activity than hiking. Right now, in the crux of spring and early summer, it is the perfect time to explore the magnificent beauty of the great outdoors. The rolling hills and mountains around Pittsburgh make our region the ideal setting for hiking. Exploring nature on foot is rewarding on its own, but the benefits of hiking go beyond seeing beautiful sights.

Hiking is fantastic aerobic exercise, and it’s suitable for people of all ages. It is also a proven stress reliever and may even boost your creativity. Get started by learning where to hike around Pittsburgh and how to maximize fitness benefits on the trail.

Step Up Your Hiking Game

Hiking, like walking and running, can reduce the risk of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, anxiety, osteoporosis, and arthritis. It is fantastic cardiovascular exercise, and you can get even more out of your time on the trail with these fitness-boosting techniques:

  • Stretch It Out: Stretching before and after a hike can help prevent injuries and keep you feeling your best. Try this routine from the Appalachian Mountain Club before you start.
  • Use Poles: gives you a stronger cardio workout.
  • Head for the Hills: a 30 to 40% increase in calorie burn.
  • Vary Your Terrain: Don’t just stick to the trail. You can work muscles harder and improve balance and stability by hiking on uneven terrain.
  • Add Some Weight: By adding weights or just a heavy water bottle to your daypack, you can weigh yourself down enough to intensify your workout while strengthening your lower back muscles. Just be sure to wear your backpack properly to avoid back, neck, and shoulder injuries.

Places to Hike Near Pittsburgh

Now that you’re ready to hit the trails, start planning your next hiking trip at one of these beautiful locations just outside of the city:

Ohiopyle State Park

Ohiopyle State Park is one of the largest state parks in Pennsylvania. Its beautiful scenery and variety of outdoor activities make it one of the most popular state parks in the country. The site spans over 19,000 acres and features outdoor activities like whitewater rafting, mountain biking, hiking, and fishing. The Laurel Highlands Trail is one of the most popular hiking locations in the region, and spans 70 miles from Ohiopyle to Johnstown.

McConnells Mill State Park

Encompassing over 2,546 acres of the spectacular Slippery Rock Creek Gorge, McConnells Mill State Park is one of the more scenic portions of the North Country National Scenic Trail. It is only a 6.2 mile hike, but it’s rated “moderate to difficult” and features rocky outcrops, rare wildflowers, and stunning waterfalls.

Raccoon Creek State Park

Raccoon Creek State Park is just 40 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh. It offers over 40 miles of hiking trails with options to meet the needs of just about everyone, from the casual hiker to the overnight backpacker looking for more of a challenge.

Experience the great outdoors in Pittsburgh and get your workout in at the same time by hiking on some of these great local trails. If you have back pain and are concerned that this will give you trouble on you journey, ask your doctor about RecoveryAid, ActivAided’s posture training device that can be worn during exercise to correct poor posture and improper biomechanics, two common causes of back pain.