Kayaks lined up on the shore of the Ohio River with view of the Pittsburgh skyline in the background.

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A Guide to an Outdoors and Sports Weekend In Pittsburgh

Almost everyone knows Pittsburgh as a die-hard sports fan city. Black and gold everywhere. From the historic Steelers franchise to a storied baseball history with the Pirates, Grays, and Crawfords to Stanley Cup champion Penguins, you can’t escape sports in Pittsburgh even if you try. In addition to many spectator sports, Pittsburgh is an incredible city for outdoor activities. We have the perfect guide if you want to spend the weekend exploring Pittsburgh’s great outdoors and exceptional sports franchises. This outdoors and sports guide to Pittsburgh will help you plan your visit.

The City of Pittsburgh and the entire Western Pennsylvania region have amazing outdoor activities. From biking to hiking and kayaking to rafting, you won’t find a dull moment on your weekend adventure in the Pittsburgh area. In between outdoor activities, you can take in sporting events at PNC Park, Acrisure Stadium, and PPG Paints Arena, where you are bound to find a professional sporting event taking place. 

Kayakers on the Allegheny River in the city of Pittsburgh.

Why Is Pittsburgh A Great Outdoors City?

From Downtown Pittsburgh to the entire region of Allegheny County, you will discover how integral green space is to the area. The three major rivers that converge at Point State Park, unending rolling hills, and, believe it or not, the city’s industrial past have all combined to create endless outdoor adventures. 

Pittsburgh is where the Allegheny River and Monongahela River combine to form the Ohio River. In the past, these waterways fueled the city’s industrial heritage. Mills and industry lined the shores and took advantage of one of the largest inland ports in the United States. Although the rivers are still lined with industry, the downturn in the manufacture of steel has not only cleaned the air in Pittsburgh but also revived the life of the waterways. You will now find more kayaks and pleasure boats on a summer day than you will barges. Fishing has had a resurgence along the rivers, as well as boat houses for rowing clubs. 

The rolling hills of Western Pennsylvania are home to hikers and bikers. Abundant outdoor recreation is available within the city limits and in the hills and mountains surrounding the city. The city parks system has over 3,600 acres of parkland across 165 community parks. You will also find an extensive rails-to-trails network throughout the area, thanks to the abundance of local railroads that were needed around the turn of the century to transport industrial goods and materials.

What Makes Pittsburgh Such A Sports Town?

Pittsburgh’s strong sports history is rooted in its steel industry, fostering a working-class community that found pride in local teams. This unity and identity are intertwined with the success of the Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates. The Steelers, founded in 1933, achieved notable success in the 1970s with four Super Bowl titles. Established in 1967, the Penguins have multiple Stanley Cups thanks to stars like Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby. The Pirates have a history of World Series victories and legendary player Roberto Clemente.

A passionate, loyal fan base, known for enthusiastic support like the “Terrible Towel” at Steelers games, ensures strong community engagement. Institutional support and modern facilities, including PNC Park, Acrisure Stadium, and PPG Paints Arena, enhance the sports experience. Historic rivalries have heightened fan engagement and promoted the teams, cementing Pittsburgh’s proud and lasting sports culture.

View of the fountain at the point with the city of Pittsburgh in the background
Pittsburgh’s Point State Park

Top Outdoor Activities To Do In Pittsburgh

Biking

Biking options within the city are numerous. Most on this list are shared trails with walkers and runners and avoid city streets. But there are bike lanes throughout the city, and an excellent map shows where you can find dedicated bike lanes here. Use this outdoors and sports guide to Pittsburgh to help you plan your rides.

Three Rivers Heritage Trail

Three Rivers Heritage Trail is a trail network covering Pittsburgh’s riverfront biking. It has three main sections that all connect. The first is the North Side Trail, which runs from Millvale to the Westhall Street Trailhead (the location of a very creepy but cool old state prison). The Southside/Eliza Furnace Trail winds along both sides of the Monongahela River through reclaimed industrial sites and the city’s South Side neighborhood. Finally, the downtown section of the trail covers Point State Park and the Strip District. 

Outside the city, there are other great places to bike:
The Panhandle Trail

The Panhandle Trail, which runs nearly 30 miles from Walker’s Mill to West Virginia, is a great ride. Park in the town of Oakdale and ride the path west toward West Virginia. It is a paved trail once you cross into Washington County (about 2 miles from the lot in Oakdale). This trail does have a slow and steady climb, but when you turn around, it will be all downhill!

Freeport Butler Trail

Another great trail is the Freeport Butler Trail, a beautiful trail in Butler County. No matter which end of the trail you start on, it will be uphill to the mid-point, so be prepared. 

Redbank Valley Trail

The Redbank Valley Trail is a 51-mile trail that traverses Armstrong, Clarion, and Jefferson counties. This trail is an offshoot of the Armstrong trail along the Allegheny River from Ford City to just beyond East Brady. The section of the Redbank Valley trail that is best, stretches from the trailhead along the Allegheny River until you reach New Bethlehem. This section is very scenic and follows Redbank Creek. The ride offers several tunnels (one unimproved with no lights, so bring a light or use your phone). Keep an eye out for the various sculptures along the trail.

For more information on bike trails in the Pittsburgh area check out my post Best Pittsburgh Biking Trails for Bites and Brews.

Renting a bike in the city, if you need some equipment, check out these options:

POGO is the most economical and readily available option. Rental stands are all over the city, and you can rent a bike and return it at any of the stations.

Bike The Burg is a rental and tour company located on the lower level of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh. You can rent and ride independently or take a bike tour.

Golden Triangle Bike Rental offers tours and rentals and is your resource for biking the GAP trail (Great Allegheny Passage). The GAP, combined with the C&O Canal Towpath, is a 334.5-mile ride between Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. Golden Triangle Bike can set you up with everything you need to make it happen.

The covered bridge along the hiking trails at McConnells Mills.

Hiking

With over 3,600 acres of parkland within the city limits, you will find some great hiking places. My favorite is Frick Park, the largest of the city parks. Some of my favorite trails in the park include the Nine Mile Run Trail (the name is for the stream it follows, not the distance) and the Falls Ravine trail. The best way to explore this park is to park near The Frick Pittsburgh Museum and Garden and descend into the ravine. The Frick has a beautiful cafe for lunch, and the museum offers several permanent and rotating exhibits. One of the prominent exhibits is the Car and Carriage Museum, definitely worth checking out.

Another excellent hiking park is Riverview Park on the city’s North Side. It’s a quiet destination with less-traveled trails. You can explore the park’s many paths through the woods. There are several parking lots with nearby trailheads. 

Another great outdoor adventure is hiking from Panther Hollow (named after the University of Pittsburgh mascot) up through Schenley Park. Runners and hikers frequent the popular paths, which lead from the Panther Hollow parking lot up the hill to Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood, home to four universities. Schenley Park, located in Oakland, has several outdoor activities you can participate in when you reach the park, including a great ice rink in the winter and a public golf course with great city views.

Nearby Hiking Destinations:
Laurel Mountains

The Laurel Mountains are a great outdoor day trip destination. About 1.5 hours southeast of the city, the area offers outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking, fly fishing, and skiing. My two favorite trails are not far from each other and close to the town of Ligonier. The first is Linn Run State Park. Although the trails are short, they feature beautiful streams and waterfalls. In Linn Run, hike the Adam Falls Trail (a 1-mile loop trail) and Grove Run Trail (a moderately strenuous 4-mile loop trail).

From Linn Run State Park, it’s about a 6-mile drive to the trailhead for Wolf Rock Trail. The trail is approximately 4.3 miles round trip and is moderately difficult. The destination is the sandstone outcrop known as Wolf Rock, which offers gorgeous views of the Laurel Highlands. It’s a great hike at any time of the year. As you hike the trail, you will pass through hardwood forests, beautiful ferns, and tons of mountain laurel (usually in bloom in late May and early June).

McConnells Mills State Park

Less than an hour’s drive north of the city is McConnells Mills State Park/Moraine State Park, a favorite hiking place from childhood. McConnells Mill is over 2,500 acres of wilderness that features the spectacular Slippery Rock Creek Gorge, a National Natural Landmark. The valley floor is littered with huge boulders formed by the draining of glacial lakes thousands of years ago. 

Visitors can also explore a historic gristmill and covered bridge built in the 1800s. You will find several short trails along the creek from the gristmill. Although short and heavily traveled, they are great trails to explore. My favorite trail in the area is the Slippery Rock Gorge Trail, which is 6.3 miles one way and a more challenging hike. It can be combined with the short trails from the gristmill, or you can park at Hell’s Hollow and start your out-and-back hike from there. The midway point of Walnut Flats is a good turnaround point if you want a shorter hike. 

Ohiopyle State Park

One final day trip option is Ohiopyle State Park, a little over an hour southeast of the city. This park is filled with tons of activities, from hiking to rafting to biking. With no less than 30 hiking trails, you will find one that fits your needs. If you want an easy hike with great views, check out the Ferncliff Trail. It’s an easy 1.8-mile loop trail that explores the peninsula along the Youghiogheny River. For more of a challenge, check out the Great Gorge Trail, a 5-mile out-and-back trail. Featuring amazing views and a beautiful waterfall.

While in Ohiopyle, I recommend renting a bike and enjoying the trail. It’s an easy ride, and the scenery is incredible. 

Kayaking on the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh. A great outdoor activity to enjoy.

Boating

With three major rivers converging, you will find great places to kayak around the city. Venture Outdoors sets up three rental places around the city, the most prominent of which is the pop-up location at Heize Landing, just outside Acrisure Stadium. Here, you can launch and paddle all three rivers. The other two locations are Sharpsburg (about 3 miles upstream from The Point along the north shore) and North Park Lake Boathouse (an Allegheny County park about 10 miles north of the city). Rental starts at $22 per hour, and you can rent solo or tandem kayaks.

Rafting

Ohiopyle State Park, about an hour and a half drive south of the city, is a great place to raft. The Middle Yough begins at the Ramcat Put-in near Confluence and ends near Ohiopyle. This section contains class I and II rapids and is ideal for beginner whitewater kayakers. For a more challenging trip check out the Lower Yough River, with seven and a half miles of Class III and IV. Or, if you are really an experienced rafter, try the Upper Yough, which includes what is called the Miracle Mil; dropping over 115 feet per mile. It’s one of the great outdoors and sports activities you will find in this guide to Pittsburgh.

Boat Rentals

Pittsburgh has a real boating culture, with over 22,000 registered boats in Allegheny County. You will see boats along the city’s three rivers from May to October. If you are visiting and want to take part in the fun, you can rent various watercraft from several companies. The requirements vary by company and the renter’s age. 

Not prepared for captaining your own craft but want to get out on the water? Look no further than the Gateway Clipper Fleet. You will undoubtedly see the various boats of the Gateway Clipper fleet cruising the city’s rivers. It’s a great way to see the city from the water and take a tour. 

Fishing

The Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers all offer fishing opportunities. These rivers support a variety of fish species, including bass, catfish, walleye, muskellunge, and carp.

The Laurel Highlands region is known for its pristine streams and rivers, including Laurel Hill Creek and the Youghiogheny River. These waters are stocked with trout and offer beautiful scenery for fly fishing.

Bill Mazeroski outside of PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates MLB team. Part of the history of this great sports and outdoors city.

Top Sports Activities and Events to Do in Pittsburgh

Catch A Game

If catching a Steelers game or, to some extent, a Penguins hockey game is your goal, plan early. The Steelers’ home games have consistently been sell-outs since 1972, and the Penguins had a 633-game sell-out streak. Although Pens tickets have become slightly easier to come by lately, they are still expensive. Tickets to Pirates games are a bit easy to manage on short notice. 

In addition to these professional sports teams, collegiate sports are big in the area. The University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University, Carnegie Mellon University, and Robert Morris University will all have events around town throughout the year.

But those aren’t the only games in town. Pittsburgh also has the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, a professional soccer team that calls the Highmark Stadium in Station Square home, and Pittsburgh Passion, a professional women’s football team whose season usually runs in the spring. Games are held at various stadiums in the area. 

View from inside PNC Park of the city skyline.
Photo courtesy of Joshua Peacock from Unsplash

Sports Experiences

Not looking to attend a game but rather still want to experience Pittsburgh sports culture? Check out these unique tours, which are sure to excite any fan.

Acrisure Stadium offers year-round tours. Four different tour options, ranging from the 45-minute Stadium Blitz tour for only $10 to the 2-hour Ultimate Tour for $75, allow you to explore various parts of the stadium, from the locker rooms to the press box. Check for times, and remember that game day tours are limited to ticket holders.

A great football experience is the Hall of Honor Museum Tour. It’s an immersive one-hour experience that lets you relive some of the franchise’s most famous moments. The tour costs $12-$18. 

PNC Park also offers several tours. Most include visits to the field, bullpens, and press box. The walking tours last about 90 minutes and cost $15. The ballpark tours are great for visitors of all ages. Different tours are offered on game day and during the off-season.

A great experience is to visit the Clemente Museum in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood. The museum contains the most extensively exhibited collection of material that focuses on Roberto Clemente, including baseball artifacts, works of art, literature, photographs, and memorabilia.

Get to know Roberto Clemente, his teammates, his personal life, and his humanitarian causes. Roberto Clemente, number 21, is a legend in Pittsburgh and worldwide for his baseball career and deep commitment to humanitarian causes and social justice. Clemente died in a plane crash on December 31, 1972, while en route to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. You must purchase tickets before arrival, and tours are limited to specific times and dates. Tickets can be purchased online for $21 per person, and the tour lasts 90 minutes.

The Draft Returns To Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh To Host NFL Draft in 2026

Pittsburgh sports fans are excited to host the 2026 NFL Draft. The last time the draft was held in Pittsburgh was 1948. “The NFL Draft is one of the biggest, most-anticipated sporting events of the year,” according to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Look for more tips on planning your visit to the Steel City.

Rafting in Ohiopyle State Park, a great outdoor activities to do around Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Is A Great City For Sports and Outdoor Enthusiasts

Pittsburgh offers a perfect blend of outdoor adventure and rich sports culture, making it an ideal destination for a weekend getaway. Whether you’re exploring the city’s extensive biking trails or cheering on the Steelers, Penguins, or Pirates at world-class stadiums, there’s something for everyone in Pittsburgh. The city’s vibrant green spaces and riverside activities provide the perfect backdrop for outdoor enthusiasts, while its deep-rooted sports history and passionate fan base make it a haven for sports lovers. So, if you’re looking for an action-packed weekend combining the best sports and outdoors activities, Pittsburgh is the place to be, and this guide can help you plan your stay.

Below are links and resources to help you plan The perfect trip

Travel Resources

  • HOTELS
    Booking.com and Expedia.com are great resources for accommodations around the world. Book almost any hotel directly from these links.
  • TOURS
    The best places to book tours and activities are Viator or Get Your Guide . From great food tours to guided hiking adventures to local walking tours, you will find great experiences to add to your travels here.
  • FOOD EXPERIENCES
    EatWith is a great resource for authentic culinary experiences with passionate locals worldwide. Connecting travelers with hosts in over 130 countries, providing unique, intimate, and immersive experiences in private homes and exclusive venues.
  • TRAINS
    Trainline is Europe’s leading train and coach app. They work with over 210 rail and coach companies to help their customers travel to thousands of destinations across 45 countries. 

The links above contain product affiliate links. We may receive a commission at no additional cost to you if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links. But your support of Fork & Wander is greatly appreciated!

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