A head cold can’t stop me from going leaf peeping around Pittsburgh! Hoping for an easy, woodsy hike, we headed up to North Park after work. I am definitely going to miss the evening sunlight! We’ve been hiking in North Park before, but this time we combined sections of the Rachel Carson trail, white, and blue blazes to make a nice loop. This was a quiet loop on a Friday evening and would be a great hike to bring the kids on! After our walk, we went to Cinderlands’ new Wexford location which had a fantastic outdoor space with a firepit. Enjoy these last few days of autumn colors around Western PA!
THE HIKE: North Park Loop
Length: 2.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 331 ft
Time: 1-1.5 hours
Trail use: Hiking, mountain biking, leashed pets
Parking: Large lots around the park
North Park is such a huge park that it can be hard to figure out where to hike! For some reason, we always end up in the same area near the pool but we never end up on the same path! There’s so much to choose from around here that it’s good to have a map or an AllTrails route picked out. This particular path was a nice easy wander through the woods which was exactly what I needed with a head cold! It’s always shocking how exhausted I feel when I’m sick. We had great intentions of a bigger loop but it just wasn’t in the cards that day! This 2.6 mile loop includes sections of the Rachel Carson trail, the white trail, and the blue trail and there’s plenty of opportunity to add more to your route! If you want to learn more about the Rachel Carson trail, I talk about it more in this post: https://hikesandhops.org/2022/05/29/rachel-carson-trail-acrospire-brewing-co/
North Park is the biggest of the county parks here in Allegheny County and it has pretty much any outdoor activity you could possibly want. There’s a pool, miles of trails, a golf course, a large lake for kayaking and fishing, an ice rink, several ball courts, and much more! North Park was envisioned by lumber baron E.V. Babock when he was named County Commissioner. He dreamed of creating “people’s country clubs” around the county that would offer a preserved green space for people to enjoy the beauty of nature. Coming at the high of the Industrial Revolution here in Pittsburgh, this idea for preserving greenspace was widely mocked. However, Babcock forged ahead, creating both North and South Park in 1927. We know who’s laughing now almost 100 years later!
As you can imagine, North Park is pretty popular so be prepared to share the trail with other hikers, mountain bikers, and families as you explore nature. We only encountered a few other folks but I imagine the trails would be busy on a nice weekend. Especially at this time of year keep your eyes peeled for fungi too! We saw these huge white mushrooms on a dead snag, let me know if you have an ID! I love hiking in the fall and seeing all of the colors of the woods slowly change and fade. This was the first year I really saw the golden color of the undergrowth ferns before they die back in the winter. Overall this is a lovely hike to take any time of the year, but it was especially beautiful in the fall!
THE BEER: Cinderlands Taproom
Address: 171 Wexford Bayne Rd Ste 101, Wexford, PA 15090
Distance from Trail Head: 6 miles, 12 mins
Food?: Bar Snacks
Details: Outdoor seating, dog friendly outside
After our stroll, we wanted to check out the Wexford branch of Cinderlands. I’ve only ever been to their location in the Strip District which is very nice but so big! The Wexford location is their newest expansion, opening in 2021. The team describes this location as a stripped down version of Cinderlands, focusing in on the beer experience. Unlike the other locations, there’s not a full kitchen although some bar snacks are available. At this taproom, there’s a wide selection of cans and merch available to-go. We saw lots of people come in to stock up for their weekend! This Cinderlands experience feels much more intimate than the larger Strip District location. The inside space is cozy with the tables thoughtfully placed so you can have a large group or just sit with a partner. We especially liked the outdoor space with tables and a firepit. The set up really encouraged friendly camaraderie with the other folks enjoying a beer. And the firepit was really a nice touch as these evenings really get cooler!
I’ve had several Cinderlands beers before but I was most looking forward to trying their fall offering. This year, Cinderlands took a different approach to the pumpkin beer craze. They created a pumpkin beer in their Star Crumb sour line! It’s described as “Pumpkin pie in a glass”. I shamelessly love pumpkin beer so I had to try it. Sadly, this was not the one for me. I wasn’t a fan of the acidity of a sour beer and the sweetness of pumpkin. It was popular with the folks around us though so it must just be me!
- Full Squish – NEIPA – 6.5%
- Star Crumb: Pumpkin Pie – Sour – 8.2%
- Archive Series: Amber Ale – Red Ale – 5.5%
SUM UP: North Park is the largest of the County Parks here in Allegheny County and it offers over 200 miles of multi-use trails! We stuck to a loop around the pool that stays completely in the woods and almost makes you forget how close to civilization you are! The trail is mostly easy with one steeper incline at the very end and a few rocky spots. Although I’ve rated it as moderate, I still think a novice hiker could do this one! After enjoying a stroll in nature, head over to Wexford to relax at Cinderland’s Taproom. Try to snag a spot at the firepit for the perfect fall evening!