Sometimes winter hiking is beautiful like our winter wonderland hike last week. Other times….not so much. This past weekend, we encountered everything from deep mud to extremely icy trails at Riverview Park. It’s really important to consider all the factors when venturing out in the winter and remember that just because it’s a bit warmer, some trails might still be very icy. There are many miles of trails to explore at this park and we’ll definitely have to be back in nicer weather. Despite some dicey trails, we still had fun exploring this city park and warmed up rather nicely afterward at 412 Brewery in the North Side.
THE HIKE: Riverview Park Loop
Length: Variable (We did 3.6 miles)
Elevation Gain: ~500 ft
Time: 1.5 hours
Trail use: Hiking, mountain biking, leashed pets
Parking: Large lots throughout park
Riverview Park is a large 260 acre park in the North Side of Pittsburgh. It was created in 1889 which means it actually predates Allegheny City’s incorporation into the City of Pittsburgh. Much of what we now know as the North Side used to be a separate municipality called Allegheny City until it was annexed by Pittsburgh in 1907. Today Riverview Park is a refreshing greenspace tucked into the busy Northside neighborhoods. There are wooded hiking trails, a pool, pavilions, a visitor’s center, and ballfields. But probably the most well known feature of the park is the Allegheny Observatory. This unique building was erected in 1859 as an educational facility by a group of wealthy industrialists but evenly it was donated to the University of Pittsburgh (then Western University of Pennsylvania) to be used for research. The current structure has stood since 1912. Both the Observatory building and Riverview Park itself are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
For more information about the Park’s history and facilities, check out this cool interactive map: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/ba9accd3b29f4ab5b50a689bd594e082
This park clearly has a long history and it is much beloved by local residents. Even on the freezing cold day that we ventured out, we couldn’t believe how many people were still out and about getting their exercise in. I guess there are other people as crazy as we are! This was my first time at Riverview Park, so we decided to park up by the Observatory so we always knew what landmark we needed to head back towards. There are many maps of the park and very good cell signal so we weren’t concerned about getting lost. However, we did encounter a lot of icy trails which kept rerouting our original plans. I would highly highly suggest getting some crampons if you plan on doing a lot of winter hiking. Remember that even if it’s a bit warmer and you don’t see snow in your yard, trails could still be icy on the less sunny side of the hills. Although we did have some fun sliding down one of the trails on our butts, I wouldn’t exactly recommend this technique!
Overall we did about 3.5 miles in Riverview Park although we could have done a lot more if the weather had cooperated. In addition to the ice and mud, a delightful hailstorm started so we booked it to our car. I would really like to come back here in the spring because it seemed like it would be such a beautiful place. Despite being in the middle of an urban area, so many of the trails felt very woodsy. The park is also located on a hill so there’s plenty of elevation changes to make for an interesting hike. I also like that there are some paved paths for anyone that’s not up to the natural paths or has a stroller or wheelchair. I also definitely want to return for a tour of the Observatory! J is a science nerd who loves astronomy so we’ll definitely be back for one of their stargazing nights.
Also, once you’re done hiking, stop by Father & Son Bakers in Observatory hill for a sweet reward for your hike. They do donuts, apple fritters, muffins, and every dessert you can think of!
THE BEER: 412 Brewery
Address: 847 Western Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15233
Distance from Trail Head: 3.6 miles, 10 mins
Details: Dog Friendly & Outdoor Seating
H&H Rating: 5/5
There are so many breweries in the North Side that you could pair with a hike in Riverview Park. This time we went with 412 Brewery, but you could also check out Allegheny City Brewing, Four Points Brewing Taproom, Bier’s Pub & Mexican War Streets Brewery, Southern Tier Brewery Pittsburgh, or even Penn Brewery. Whew, how does one even choose?! Well we remembered liking 412 Brewery when it first opened for it’s great beer and cozy bar space. They also have a small outdoor patio for when the weather gets nice.
412 Brewery is based out of McKees Rocks where they make all of their brews. You have to come to the North Side though to get the fresh beer since their production site doesn’t have a taproom. Although the brewers have been producing since 2016, this taproom only opened in 2019 and has been a popular spot ever since. 412 Brewery faced some ownership changes in 2019, which brought in a solid team with tons of industry experience and ties to other local breweries. Needless to say, 412 Brewery knows their stuff!
Just like the last time we were here, the place gave off a cozy, friendly vibe. They might not have the biggest taplist, but everything is delicious. Both of the New England IPAs were perfectly juicy. I also really liked the Island Escapism Sour which tasted like a margarita! It definitely helped me forget for a bit that it was February in Pittsburgh.
All in all, I highly recommend 412 Brewery! And definitely check out the North Side in general. Look out in the future for an urban hike around this area. So many breweries and so little time!
- Thicc Fingers – Dessert Stout – 7.2%
- Pineapple Cloud – IPA – 6%
- Island Escapism – Sour – 5.5%
- Cheddar Goblin – New England IPA
- Green Candlesticks – New England IPA – 5.5%
SUM UP: Riverview Park is located in the North Side of Pittsburgh and is managed by the City’s Park Rangers and Department of Public Works. It is a popular green space that sits right in the middle of an urban neighborhood. There are plenty of trails for all skill levels, including paved and natural paths. Some of the wooded paths have varied elevation gains and are narrow at times. Afterward, head to Western Ave to go to 412 Brewery where you’ll be able to relax in a taproom with a neighborhood vibe. There’s no kitchen so dogs are welcome! Plus there’s plenty of nearby restaurants to pick up some takeout. This is a great combo for some Hikes & Hops in the city limits!