Last weekend, we took our first urban hike of the season…in a cemetery! No this wasn’t a spooky Halloween themed walk. We wanted to explore the beautiful and historic Allegheny Cemetery in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh and learn more about its history. Following a self-guided tour from the cemetery’s website, we were able to find and read about more than 30 notable people buried in the cemetery! Afterward we imbibed at Pittsburgh’s newest brewery, Coven Brewing! If you’re in the mood for an urban history hike and hop, this one’s for you!
THE HIKE: Allegheny Cemetery History Hike
Length: 4 miles
Elevation Gain: 450 ft
Time: 3 hours
Trail use: Walking, running, biking, NO PETS
Parking: Parking at visitor center (Butler Street)
Okay so you might be thinking that a cemetery is a weird place to take a hike. In a lot of places, it’s not normal to stroll through a cemetery; you might feel that you’re disturbing the peace! But while also a resting place, Allegheny Cemetery is also a beautiful park that is full of nature, art, and history! In fact, the cemetery encourages people to visit by preparing self-guided tours with themes like Pittsburgh Mayors, African American History, Dynamic Women, and more! We opted to do Notable People which included famous industrialists, musicians, politicians, and military heroes. To find this and other self-guided tours, follow this link: https://mobile.webcemeteries.com/allegheny/26/Tours#tourId=701
Allegheny Cemetery is one of the largest and oldest rural cemeteries in the country, encompassing over 300 acres and memorializing over 124,000 people. The cemetery was established in 1844 and some of the oldest graves are from Revolutionary War veterans. This cemetery is unique because it was built with nature in mind. It was always meant to incorporate the natural landscape so the paths between gravesites meander through trees and past ponds. It’s made to be a peaceful place of contemplation!
A few things before you head out to the cemetery for a stroll. Firstly, leave your furry friends at home! Feel free to pack some snacks or a picnic but, as on any hike, leave no trace! Also please take your time and enjoy nature, but avoid sitting or leaning on graves or other memorial structures. Overall, be respectful of the dead and their families. Especially since this is still an active cemetery and you may encounter a burial service while you are there.
When exploring the Cemetery, make sure to give yourself plenty of time. This isn’t going to be the type of walk that you finish in an hour! In fact, we spent almost 3 hours here and the only thing that stopped us was our empty water bottles! Also make sure to have fully charged phone if you’re following the self-guided tour. I found that the website drained my battery pretty quickly!
The tours are pretty easy to follow. You can see the map with all of the key locations numbered and to navigate, just click on the directions icon and it will bring up google maps to give you walking directions. We found the website to be very easy to use! At each burial site, we took turns reading the short bio about the interned person. A few times, we weren’t able to find the exact headstone, but we made it close to the area and still read the description. I really want to give a shout out to the staff and volunteers who researched and created the self-guided tours! I learned so much and I’m so glad that this resource was created!
If you’re a history buff, there are a couple of really interesting people to read about. First is Dr. Charles Avery, an abolitionist who ran a stop on the Underground Railroad in Pittsburgh! Then was the huge memorial fortress to John B. Ford, the founder of Pittsburgh Plate Glass (now a little company called PPG Industries). Another fun one was the grave for Joseph Wainwright, an early brewmaster who used wild hops that grew along the river to make his own beer! His company eventually merged with others to become the Pittsburgh Brewing Company (makers of Iron City Beer!) . There’s so many more and if you are familiar at all with Pittsburgh, you’ll definitely see some familiar names popping up again and again. Names like Mellon, Schenley, Neville, McCandless, Scaife and more!
If you’re looking for a different type of hike, I highly encourage you to check out a self-guided tour of Allegheny Cemetery. Even if you’re not a big history person, the peace and beauty of this park is sure to satisfy you! And once you’re tired of walking, there’s no shortage of places to eat and drink outside of the cemetery walls! Let’s head over to Coven Brewing to check it out!
THE BEER: Coven Brewery
Address: 4901 Butler St, Pittsburgh, PA 15201
Distance from Trail Head: 0.2 miles, 5 mins walking
Food?: BYOF or Food Trucks
Details: Outdoor seating & dog friendly
H&H Rating: 4/5
Coven Brewing is Pittsburgh’s newest craft brewery, having only just opened at the beginning of April! Coven is owned and run by two former Dancing Gnome brewers so this brewery really knows its stuff! The new brewery has taken over the former Roundabout Brewing location on Butler Street, which has meant the duo can really hit the ground running! Although this area already has a ton of breweries, I’m particularly excited about Coven because one of the owners/brewers is a woman! Always thrilled to see more diversity in the world of beer making!
If you’re not into beer, Coven also offers a small selection of PA-made wine, cider, and cocktails. They also frequently have food truck offerings, but you could always grab a snack from any of the many food establishments along Butler street.
So like I said, Coven Brewing is very new so it was super popular the day we went! They have some indoor seating but it was such a beautiful day that everyone wanted to be outside. We managed to snag the corner of a picnic table right as a huge crew of cyclists pulled up. I’d say Coven is doing pretty well so far! True to form, I really liked the New England IPA, Swanky. It was refreshing with that classic NEIPA haziness. J preferred the Saison which had a nice wheatiness to it. Unfortunately, we were meeting family afterward so we weren’t able to sample anything else. But I definitely think we’ll be back!
- Swanky – NEIPA – 7.2%
- Curses in Cursive – Saison – 7.2%
SUM UP: Allegheny Cemetery isn’t your typical hike but if you’re looking for an urban walk, I honestly suggest you check it out! Before heading out, download the cemetery’s app/website for a self-guided tour that takes you to various notable graves with a brief history of the person. We learned so much about local history and got to take in the beauty of the cemetery grounds. Your walk can be as long or as short as you want but afterwards, be sure to walk across the street to Pittsburgh’s newest craft brewery, Coven Brewing! Take a seat outside, grab something from the food truck and enjoy a delicious brew! Coven is sure to be a new favorite!