Snowshoe & Sip
Pittsburghers are pretty spoiled with our quick access to outdoor activities—and even though the winter may feel like it’s limited in terms of ways to get an outdoor adventure in, we have many options that can get us outside once the snow starts falling. In fact, if you’d like to burn more than 600 calories an hour, enjoy picturesque trails, followed by warming up with a delicious hot cocoa afterwards, then follow my lead here…
Snowshoeing is one of the nation’s fastest growing outdoor sports, and luckily we’ve got plentiful trails nearby that span all age and ability levels. And if you’re not sure if you’ll love it you can rent a pair of snowshoes here or here to get your boots wet before buying.
Below are just a few of the many snowshoeing trails our region has to offer—paired with a spot to pick up your (rightfully earned) piping hot cocoa.
- Southside Trail (7 miles) Traditionally viewed as a running, biking or even rollerblading trail, if Pittsburgh gets enough snow, snowshoers have been spotted in this urban location. I’d rate this one as easy, and it’s conveniently located near a number of fantastic hot cocoa spots—that’s a win-win in my book.
Sip spots: So many to choose from but if you go to Big Dog Coffee or Le Petit Chocolat you won’t be disappointed.
- South Park (8 miles) Each winter, snowshoers flock just down the road to the South Park golf course where the course doubles as a sprawling snowshoe playground. Use your imagination here because it’s an open space versus a trail system.
Sip spot: The Woods Café & Bikes
- Boyce Park (24 miles) This 1,069 acre-park is more than the closest ski slope to Mt. Lebanon; it’s also an established snowshoeing haven. Go to the Four Seasons Lodge for snowshoe and pole rentals.
Sip spot: A little out of the way, so grab a donut for your troubles at Peace Love and Little Donuts.
- Raccoon Creek State Park (25 miles) In the winter, the majority of the park’s trails are open to both snowshoeing as well as cross-country skiing. Plus, Raccoon Creek loans its own snowshoes so you can give the sport a shot (although what’s not to like?)
Sip spot: Grab your usual on the way there or back at The Coffee Tree Roasters or Uptown Coffee.
- Moraine State Park (50 miles) North of the city, Moraine State Park offers two trails, which have been linked to form a giant six-mile snowshoeing hike. So grab your buddy or four legged friend and enjoy the crisp air around the lake as a great way to kick off your weekend.
Sip spot: Harmony, Pa’s Wunderbar
- Seven Springs Mountain Resort (58 miles) Located in the heart of the Laurel Highlands, Seven Springs isn’t just for skiers and snowboarders—the park is a prime spot for snowshoeing surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery.
Sip spot: Silver Horse Cafe
- Nemacolin (63 miles) Need a five-star snowshoeing experience? Mystic Mountain provides some of the most stunning views you can imagine and rental equipment is available. Lessons are also available, if needed.
Sip spot: Nemacolin’s own Bittersweet Cafe
- Ohiopyle State Park (66 miles) Heavy powder attracts visitors of all abilities to the nearly 40 miles of trails open for snowshoeing. The well-known GAP (Great Allegheny Passage) trail is a prime spot to learn the sport and enjoy the park.
Sip spots: Ohiopyle Bakery or Ohiopyle House Cafe
Before you head out, remember to wear layers, as snowshoeing can start out frigid but warm up quickly. And keep in mind these trail tips below. Happy snowshoeing!
- Try not to hike in or across cross-country ski tracks
- Keep it clean! Leave nothing behind but your tracks in the snow.
- Keep your ear buds low if using them as you can encounter wildlife and or snowmobiles.
- As always, if you’re bringing Fido, keep him on a leash (if required) and clean up after him.
- Snowshoers and cross-country skiers often share the same trails. Skiers—since they are faster—have right-of-way on the trails.
- Don’t burn your tongue on your hot cocoa.