Fox Chapel Trails & Old Thunder Brewing

Blawnox, PA

Guys, I can’t believe the trail network around Fox Chapel and O’Hara Township! There’s so much going on but honestly not a lot of good info out there about it. We were confused about what trails were open to the public and which needed a permit to access. SO we started at the O’Hara community park and just worked our way up! This is a great way to check out this area because you can go as long as you want and you don’t have to worry about getting the permit for the Fox Chapel trails. Plus the community park is so close to Old Thunder Brewing in Blawnox which is definitely worth a visit. They’ve got delicious beers in a very cool old post office building. I’ve got your next hiking day planned out!

THE HIKE: O’Hara Community Park & Salamander Trail

Length: 5 miles
Elevation Gain: 200ft
Difficulty: Easy
Time: 2 hours
Trail use: Hiking, No Pets
Parking: Large lot at community park
H&H: 3/5

This hiking outing is perfect for anyone that needs some time outdoors but doesn’t have the energy or time for a big excursion. Somedays you just need a flat, easy path and this is a pretty good one! Although there are many interwoven trails in the Fox Chapel trail system, I knew that some required permit access. However, it wasn’t very clear from information available online which parking areas were permit-only. IT seems that permits are obtained easily enough by going to the public library to get one, but that does require some advance planning especially if hiking on a day when the library is closed! It also appears that the permits are free, you just need to fill out a form prior to your hike. If anyone has any further info about hiking in Fox Chapel, please let me know! 

Entrance to the Salamander Trail

Because of the confusing permits, we decided to start our hike at the O’Hara Community Park which is a lovely park with playgrounds, sports courts, and a paved walking trail. This is the trail we started on and it’s great for all abilities. You follow the paved path along the small creek and start heading out of the park. The paved trail ends and you head towards the treeline where there is a sign for the Salamander trail. This is a natural wooded path and probably more like the trails you’re used to walking. It runs along a creek for a delightful babbling to accompany your trek. Just remember your bug spray, this area can get a bit buggy! There’s a small loop on this section of the trail so we took the high road on the way out and the lower creekside on the way back. 

As you’re hiking along, be aware that the trail crosses over the road a few times. BE very careful on these crossings! After the Salamander Trail, the trail meanders along a road towards towards McCahill Park. This was probably my least favorite section, as I’m not a big fan of hiking along the road. Thankfully, the road was quiet and very few cars drove past. Eventually it turns back into the woods at Scott Park where it continues along the creek. This was a great spot with some benches to sit and have our lunch! Finally we followed the trail to the Riding Meadow Park which was where we decided to turn around. If you like longer hikes, it’s very easy to cross the road here and continue to Riding Meadow. There are a lot more trail systems in this area that will eventually lead all the way to the Audubon Society’s Beechwood Farms. Just make sure to leave enough energy to make it back to your car! 

It’s hard for me to rate this trail because on one hand I enjoyed all of the wooded areas where it was quiet and peaceful. However, I wasn’t a huge fan of the sections along the road and the final connecting trail to Riding Meadow was pretty overgrown. I always check for ticks after hiking, but I was especially careful this time! This felt more like a nature walk than a hike, which is totally fine as long as that’s what you’re in for! And I do wish the Fox Chapel areas were more accessible. It makes me sad when access to nature is blocked so only certain people can enjoy it. 

Just another quick note about these trails. You might have noticed that I omitted the name of the initial trail in O’Hara Park. This trail contains a word that First Peoples consider derogatory and offensive. There are several places that use this word that First Peoples have been advocating for a name change. In fact, a very popular resort in Lake Tahoe recently changed its name to Palisades Tahoe in acknowledgement of the racist and offensive origins of its original name. I hope that eventually this small trail in O’Hara will understand the harmful connotations of its name and make a change! 

THE BEER: Old Thunder Brewing

Address: 340 Freeport Rd, Blawnox, PA 15238
Distance from Trail Head: 2 miles, 6 mins 
Website: Oldthunderbrewing.com
Food?: BYOF & Food Trucks
Details: Outdoor seating but no pets
H&H Rating: 5/5

Okay so Old Thunder Brewing seriously blew me away! As you guys know, I go to a lot of breweries. I’ve been to the good, the bad, and everything in between. But I knew as soon as we pulled up to this venue that it was going to be something good! The Old Thunder Brewing taproom has been open for just over a year, but you wouldn’t know it by walking in! It’s in a converted post office building that has been lovingly updated while keeping much of the original features. It has a huge indoor taproom complete with bar seating and tables, as well as a patio space out front. I think my favorite feature was the original postmaster’s safe that they left on the wall!

We started out with a flight here because after viewing the menu, we knew we wanted to try a little of everything. Old Thunder offers a nice mix of Pale ales/ IPAs along with some traditional styles like their headliner 340 Lager. I think my favorite by far was the False Kingdom which, luckily for me, is another of their headliners! I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for this one at my local beer store! 

Old Thunder doesn’t have their own kitchen but they keep an updated list of food trucks on their website and encourage visitors to patronize other local shops by ordering takeout. This brewery also prides itself on being a family friendly place and there were lots of well-behaved kiddos when we went! Overall, I was super impressed with Old Thunder Brewing. It’s not often that you get both really good beer and a super cool building!

Our Beer:

  • False Kingdom – IPA – 6.8%
  • Reasonable Voices – Pilsner – 4.8%
  • 340 Lager – Helles – 4.8% 
  • Big Blox – DIPA – 8%
  • Featherweight Queen – Stout – 4.5%
  • Character Development #1 – Barleywine – 9.5%
  • Steps Ascending – Pale Ale – 5.2%

SUM UP: For this hike, we headed out to the Fox Chapel area to explore the long trail system. Our hike started at the O’Hara Community Park and meandered all the way to the Riding Meadow Park. This is a good trail system for nature walks and you can add as much or as little distance as wanted. Be aware that some areas of the trail require a permit to park. Afterwards, head over to Freeport Road to check out Old Thunder Brewing in Blawnox. You’ll get to have top-quality beer in a converted historic post office. All in all, a great hiking excursion!

Ohioyle State Park & Bloom Brew

Ohiopyle, PA

Ever since we moved back to Pittsburgh, Ohiopyle has been at the top of hiking wishlist. Only about an hour and half south of Pittsburgh, it’s a perfect day time for these long summer days! Just be sure to get there early as it can get pretty busy. Afterward, as you’re heading back to the Burgh, stop by Bloom Brew in West Newtown for a refreshing pint. Being right on the Yough river with a kayak launch and steps away from the GAP trail, Bloom Brew is an outdoorsy dream!

THE HIKE: Ohiopyle Great Gorge Trail

Length: 6.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 955ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Time:  2.5-3 hours
Trail use: Hiking, Leashed Pets
Parking: Park by natural slides; Go early!
H&H: 4/5

Ohiopyle State Park covers over 20,000 acres of land in the Laurel Highlands region of Pennsylvania. Its converging rivers and rocky landscape make it a popular destination for hikers and rafting enthusiasts. In fact, the Pennsylvania Department of Natural Resources estimates that over 1.4 million people visit this park a year! The main draw of the park is the mighty Youghiogheny River that has carved through the landscape, creating areas of plummeting water and deep gorges. 

The name Ohiopyle comes from a Lenapi word meaning “to turn white”, in reference to the foamy water as it cascades over the rocks. In prehistoric times, the area was settled by the Monongahela tribes who disappeared before extended contact with Europeans. As colonists began to settle along the eastern coast, it forced other tribes like the Lenapi, Shawnee, and Seneca peoples, further inland to areas like Ohiopyle. Eventually even these people were forced off the land by the French and Indian War. 

After the war and the following Whiskey Rebellion, industry moved into the Ohiopyle region and trades like lumbering became a major production, followed by mining, tanning, and other smaller industries. With the rise of railroads, Ohiopyle became accessible to tourists, and soon became a popular destination for Pittsburgh travelers, prompting the building of hotels and other attractions. Eventually, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy purchased the land and allowed the trees and land to regenerate. In the mid 1960s, it was sold to the state and has been maintained as a state park ever since! 

There’s no shortage of things to do in Ohiopyle and you definitely won’t be able to see it all in one day! For our day visit, we wanted to do as much as possible so we took a long hiking loop that hit most of the major sights. Following the Great Gorge Loop trail from Alltrails, we parked at the Natural Water Slides parking area which was still fairly empty at 10am on a beautiful Saturday. We left the slides to some more prepared families in bathing suits and hiking along the waters following the yellow blazes. I loved how this trail immediately plunks you in another world full of raging waters and rock scrambles. After heading under the bridge, the trail will meet up with the Youghiogheny River where I highly encourage you to wander out on the rocks to take in the view and watch some rafters taking on the rapids. This first section of trail was probably my favorite. I loved following along the river and then clambering up the rocky path to head towards the famous Cucumber Falls. This waterfall was well worth the hype and we scrambled all the way to the top and even behind the falls! There’s also a parking lot at the top with stairs down for those with limited abilities. 

The rest of the hike follows the Great Gorge Trail along quiet wooded trails until it takes a sharp turn up. On this section of trail, we never saw another person and definitely got our workout on the incline! We were a bit disappointed though because the midpoint (turn around) spot was just a confluence of several trails. With all of the incline, we were hoping for a viewpoint! If you do this trail, I would skip the incline and turn around where the trail forks to head to the campground. 

At this point, we added a bit to this route so that we weren’t just backtracking. We got on the Great Allegheny Passage and took the bridge over to the Ferncliff Peninsula. From there we meandered through the trails on the peninsula, coming back on the Ferncliff Trail which borders the river and offers fantastic views of the waterfalls and rapids. This area is very popular though so be sure to be mindful of other hikers! Finally, we walked through the town which would be a great time to stop for lunch either at a restaurant or to have a picnic along the river. There’s plenty of space to relax or take a dip in the water! We also checked out the Visitor’s Center which has some great exhibits about the wildlife and geology of the area. From there, we walked on the sidewalk back to our car. For a big loop of 6.5 miles, we got to see a lot of highlights in Ohiopyle. There’s still plenty left to explore and we’ll definitely be back! 

THE BEER: Bloom Brew

Address: 100 Riverside Dr Suite A, West Newton, PA 15089
Distance from Trail Head: 43 mi, 55 mins 
Website: https://bloombrew.beer/
Food?: BYOF & Food Trucks
Details: Outdoor seating & dog friendly & Kayak Launch!
H&H Rating: 5/5

So guys. There is a much closer brewery to Ohiopyle. It’s brand new and it’s called Yough River Brewing and it’s been on my list for a while since it’s one of the only brewery taprooms in the area! But. It’s good to check a business’s hours before driving 30 minutes out of the way! Sadly for us, they were giving their employees the weekend of July 4th off so we had to come up with Plan B. That just means that we’ll have to come back! 

We decided instead to check out Bloom Brew in West Newton. It was a bit of a drive but it was heading back towards Pittsburgh. Bloom Brew is located behind the Fire Department and has a large outdoor only seating area with covered picnic tables. The day we were there, they had live music and a food truck so we were set! Probably the coolest thing about Bloom Brew is that because they’re right on the Yough River, there’s a kayak/canoe launch onsite! I don’t know how many breweries can say that they’re kayak friendly! 

Bloom Brew has been around since 2014 and by now they really know what they’re doing! They specialize in barrel-aged sours, but offer a wide selection on their taplist. I couldn’t believe that they had 24 different taps! Through local partnerships, they also offer gluten-free beer, cider, mead and wine, so there’s really something for everyone! And you cannot beat this location, I could have spent all day lounging on the banks of the river, enjoying a cold brew. The winner of the day was the Hoptimus Pine which was a hazy DIPA with a perfect balance of hops and sweetness. That 8.5% is a real kicker though! 

Kayak Launch at Bloom Brew! Right on Yough River

Our Beer:

  • Hoptimus Pine – DIPA – 8.5%
  • Raspberry Wheat – Wheat Beer – 4.5%
  • Shweat – Pineapple Habanero Fruit Beer – 6.6%
  • YRT Sabra – IPA – 5.6% 

SUM UP: Ohiopyle is a very popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts of all types. The winding Youghiogheny is highly sought out by white water rafter and kayakers and the Great Allegheny Passage, a 150 mile bike trail, runs through the park. There are 79 miles of trails for all levels of hikers! We combined the Great Gorge Trail with the Ferncliff Peninsula for a “greatest hits” of Ohiopyle. Afterwards, grab a bite to eat in town or stop at Bloom Brew on your way back towards Pittsburgh. If you still haven’t gotten enough outdoors, you can put in your kayak right at the Brewery and spend some more time on the Yough!

Kane Woods Nature Area & Hitchhiker Brewing

Scott Township, PA

Between summer festivities and tackling our new house (!), we haven’t had a lot of time for hiking! Thankfully, we found that the Kane Woods Nature Area is just a few minutes away from our neighborhood. Despite being pretty small, it’s a great place for a short walk and is especially popular with dog walkers. We had a refreshing hike after a long day in the yard and capped it off with a few pints at my favorite Pittsburgh brewery, Hitchhiker’s Mt. Lebo location! Sometimes you just don’t have time to climb a mountain, so this was the perfect compromise.

THE HIKE: Kane Woods Nature Area Loop

Length: 2.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 230 ft
Difficulty: Easy
Time:  1 hour
Trail use: Hiking, leashed pets, NO BIKES
Parking: Small lot at trailhead
H&H: 3/5

Kane Woods Nature Area is a small greenspace in Scott Township and is managed by the Scott Conservancy. It offers a few miles of trail that are marked by different colors. On our visit, we did a big loop that included all of the trails. Although the park is small, you could combine trails to get as much or as little mileage as you want. Our favorite part of the park was the white trail along the small creek. I love a good creek trail! 

From our experience, I would not recommend taking the blue trail loop from the Whiskey Point trailhead. This trail was extremely overgrown and had seen very little foot traffic. Some of the trail was on a very steep slope and the trail was not cut in enough so we were almost slipping down the hillside. This trail was very unpleasant and I would suggest staying on the other trails if you can! 

Kane Woods might seem like your typical suburban greenspace, but it actually has a really interesting history! The land was once owned by General John Neville, who served alongside George Washington in both the French and Indian war and theAmerican Revolution. After the war, he resided at his mansion where the Kane Woods are now located! However, Neville didn’t have the best luck after the war. He was appointed tax collector after the infamous whiskey taxes were implemented by the fledgling Congress. He quickly became very unpopular with the local farmers, to the point that he was run from his home and it was burned to the ground! This led to events now known as the Whiskey Rebellion. If you’re interested in learning more, check out the Scott Conservancy’s website or the Heinz History Center! And be sure to tour Woodville Plantation, the historic plantation of the Neville Family right in Heidelberg. 

Unfortunately none of this history is apparent when you’re walking through the trails but pay attention to the trail names. They all make reference to the events of the Whiskey Rebellion. Of course, the perfect pairing to this hike would have been to go to Insurrection Aleworks (taking their name from the local uprising) buuuuuuut I had a hankering for Hitchhiker instead. Either of these breweries would be a perfect post hike beer!

THE BEER: Hitchhiker Brewing

Address: 190 Castle Shannon Blvd, Pittsburgh, PA 15228
Distance from Trail Head: 2.1 miles, 6 mins 
Website: http://www.hitchhikerbrewing.com/
Food?: Snacks & Food Trucks
Details: Outdoor seating & dog friendly
H&H Rating: 5/5

Okay I’m gonna make a bold claim. Hitchhiker is my favorite Pittsburgh brewery, particularly the Mt. Lebo taproom. This was actually the very first craft brewery I ever went to! My dad and I have been patrons here since they first opened and it’s been so satisfying to see the Burgh recognize their fantastic beer! 

Hitchhiker has been making quality beer since they first opened their doors in 2014 in a small store front on Castle Shannon Blvd. Since then, they have grown exponentially and moved their brewing facilities to a huge outpost in Sharpsburg which also has a taproom. This place is always hopping and I recommend a visit, but Mt. Lebo taproom always remains a favorite to me for its neighborhood vibes. There’s plenty of parking nearby and there’s a lot of foot traffic from the neighborhoods. 

On this visit, we scored our favorite table (yes we have a favorite spot) and stuck to some refreshing hoppy beers. The 15th and Canal is always one of my go-tos here and the Kolsch was a refreshing new favorite. Hitchhiker does a lot of fun experimental things in addition to some of their headliners. This time around, we got the Blackberry version of their Fruit Rush series and it was really tasty! When it’s not super hot, I also really like the Woke Breakfast Stout, if dark beers are your thing. 

Hitchhiker is always my #1 recommended brewery so I hope you get to check it out! Before you go, check out the food truck schedule or grab a snack at the bar. 

Our Beer:

  • 15th and Canal – American Pale Ale – 5.8%
  • Myrcene – Double IPA – 8.4%
  • No Added Flavor – Kolsch – 5%
  • Fruit Rush: Blackberry – Shandy – 4.8%

SUM UP: Kane Woods Nature Area is a small greenspace in Scott Township with a few miles of wooded trails. For history buffs, this area was the site of events that sparked the Whiskey Rebellion in the 1790’s. All of the trails are named for people and things surrounding this important event in Western PA history. Although small, the wooded trails along a small creek are very peaceful and it’s a great place to walk your furry friends! Afterward, enjoy a brew at a local brewery like Insurrection Aleworks or Hitchhiker Brewing! Both offer delicious beer and a neighborhood vibe.

Frick Park & East End Brewing

East Liberty, Pittsburgh, PA

The other weekend, we got to bring a furry friend on our hike! And what better place to bring a dog than Frick Park. This park is absolutely huge with miles and miles of paved and natural paths. There’s also a good sized dog park which our four-legged companion was a huge fan of! We Pittsburghers are very lucky to have such beautiful urban parks and Frick Park is the cream of the crop! Afterward, keep back and relax at the ever popular East End Brewing. Their huge patio is the perfect place to bring your pooch after a nice long walk.

THE HIKE: Frick Park Loop

Length: Variable – 4.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 500 ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Time: 1.5-2 hours
Trail use: Hiking, Running, Mountain bikes, Leashed Pets
Parking: Large lot at the Frick Environmental Center
H&H: 5/5

Okay so don’t get too excited, J and I did not get a dog! We were watching our friends’ sweet dog, Shiloh, while they were out of town. He’s a great walking companion and definitely had much more stamina than us! We knew that Shiloh loves the dog park at Frick Park so it seemed like the perfect place to do our weekend hike!

Frick Park was established by the bequest of Henry Clay Frick after his death in 1919. He stipulated that 151 acres of land near his Clayton Mansion (now the Frick Arts & Historical Center) should be given to the City of Pittsburgh to create a park. More land was added to the park and when it finally opened in 1927, it became the largest of the City’s regional parks.

Frick Park is very unique because of its sloping, wooded spaces that have remained relatively undisturbed, creating a rich habitat for plants and animals. This park is very popular with a variety of outdoor enthusiasts, including bikers, cyclists, and hikers. In addition to the nearly 20 miles of trail, Frick Park also boasts several playgrounds, ball fields and courts, and the previously mentioned dog park! 

For our hike, we parked at the Frick Environmental Center which is one of the few park entrances with a parking lot. If you go to another entrance, there’s usually street parking available! We were intending to follow the Frick Park Loop from Alltrails, but we mostly just let Shiloh lead the way. If you do follow this loop, be aware that it was impacted by the Fern Hollow Bridge collapse, so you will have to avoid that area. The main trails we took were the Clayton loop, Falls Ravine, and Riverview Trail. Frick Park is surprisingly woodsy and there are so many trails that it’s easy to get away from the crowds. We did a nice balance of wider trails and a few more secluded wooded tracks. Hiking with our furry nephew is always an adventure because he’s a hound so every little chipmunk or squirrel immediately puts him in hunting mode. Thankfully after 4 miles and a trip to the off-leash area, he was finally too tired to do much more than bark half-heartedly at the squirrels. I definitely think they were laughing at him. 

After a day in Frick Park, what better place to rest and relax than East End Brewing? Let’s check it out! 

THE BEER: East End Brewery

Address: 147 Julius St, Pittsburgh, PA 15206
Distance from Trail Head: 2.1 miles, 6 mins
Website: http://www.eastendbrewing.com/
Food?: Full Menu
Details: Outdoor seating & dog friendly
H&H Rating: 5/5

East End Brewing has been a staple in the Pittsburgh brewing scene since it opened in 2004. Their location in East Liberty/ Larimer has a large taproom as well as plenty of outdoor seating. And no need to pack snacks, their in-house kitchen (delightfully dubbed East End Chewing) offers up the perfect doughy companions to their hoppy beers. We noshed on a pretty amazing soft pretzel! Since we had Shiloh with us, we were so happy that this brewery is proudly dog friendly! We set ourselves up in a corner, made sure to bring a blanket and Shiloh was out for the count. Honestly, I couldn’t blame him. After the top notch brews and aforementioned carbs, I would have happily dozed off. Petition to get East End to install hammocks? Or how about a BYOH (Bring Your Own Hammock) event? I digress…

Anyhow, let’s talk beer. Guys East End is good. Like real good. It was super hot the day we went so I stuck with some lighter beers (both in ABV and flavor) but that didn’t stop J from getting the Belgian Tripel. The man loves his Belgian brews! I honestly cannot say enough good things about the Watermelon Gose. I would be happy drinking that the entire summer, it’s just such a dang good porch beer! Also I really liked the Wheat Hop, it was super fruity and refreshing. I brought some home to my wheat beer-loving mom and it definitely got her stamp of approval!  

Another project of East End that I’m loving is their “You Are Here” Series. To celebrate 15 years in the brewing biz and to honor the neighborhoods of the the Burgh, they are making 90 different beers for the 90 neighborhoods of Pittsburgh. Here’s what they have to say about the project:

“We’ve been thinking a lot lately about our last 15 years of brewing beer in Pittsburgh, what it means to be a “local brewery”, what it means to brew beer for locals to enjoy, and how people become connected to this notion. Pittsburgh is a city of neighborhoods, each with their own identities, and fiercely loyal populations.
So to celebrate the wonderful diversity of neighborhoods that is Pittsburgh, we’ve decided to brew a brand new beer for each and every one of them. And yeah, that’s a long list. We went through a lot of back and forth with a lot of people on the number until finally the good folks at the City of Pittsburgh came to our rescue with the Official Number: 90.”

What a cool project! I didn’t even know some of these neighborhoods existed, so here’s my challenge to get to know my own city better! As of June 2022, they’re up to 65 neighborhoods. So go check out East End Brewing, and know that you’re supporting a local business that really cares about their roots!

Our Beer:

  • Stanton Heights – Belgian Tripel – 9.2%
  • Wheat Hop – Fruity Wheat Beer – 4.5%
  • Pedal Pale Ale – American Pale Ale – 5%
  • Seedless Watermelon Gose – Sour – 4.1%

SUM UP: Frick Park is a large urban park in the East End of Pittsburgh. While not the oldest park in Pittsburgh, it is the largest and best known for its woodsy trails filled with wildlife. This park is very popular for walking, bike riding, sports, birding, and more! If you like to be outside, this is the place for you! There are miles of intersecting trails for any length of trek. After you’re done soaking up the great outdoors, wander over to East End Brewing for some delicious brews and food in a neighborhood-driven environment. Hikes & Hops like this make me so happy to be back in Pittsburgh!

Rachel Carson Trail & Acrospire Brewing Co

Glenshaw, PA

Last weekend it was finally time for us to tackle the (in)famous Rachel Carson trail. This trail spans 45 miles so it’s great for tackling in sections. Many sections. For our first trek, we did a 3 mile (6 mile out-and-back) section of the trail starting in North Park and turning around at Route 8. This trail is not for the faint of heart and you WILL get your feet wet! If you’re ready for a more challenging hike without going too far outside of the city, this hike is perfect for you! Afterward, grab a beer from Acrospire Brewing’s to-go only production facility. If the weather’s nice, enjoy your beverage in their outdoor biergarten!

THE HIKE: Rachel Carson Trail (North Park to Rt. 8)

Length: 6 miles
Elevation Gain: 660ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Time: 2.5-3 hours
Trail use: Hiking, Running, Leashed Pets
Parking: Large gravel lots throughout North Park
H&H: 4/5

Okay, so like I said, the Rachel Carson Trail spans just over 45 miles in northern Allegheny County, meandering between North Park and Harrison Hills Park. The trail is named, of course, for the renowned conservationist Rachel Carson, who was born in Springdale, PA. An offshoot trail actually leads to her childhood home! I can’t wait to check that out on a future hike. There are no shelters along this trail so it’s intended for day use. However, if you’re feeling up for a challenge, once a year the Rachel Carson Trail Conservancy hosts an endurance hike where hikers have 15 hours to do 34 miles of the trail. Definitely something I’d love to work up to! 

One thing I really love about this time of year is that there’s enough daylight after work to squeeze in a hike! J and I are really lucky to work close to each other, so we made sure to pack our hiking clothes and some dinner and head out right after work! The Rachel Carson Trail runs through a large part of North Park, but we choose to start at the Beveridge shelter. There’s a large gravel lot in this area by the baseball fields. The first part of this trail is quite wide and downhill. There’s a quick road crossing and then you’ll hit your first stream crossing. And yes I said first because you’ll be crossing a lot of streams on this hike! Some have some stepping stones but I guarantee that you will get your feet wet. Nothing up to the knee though, unless you make a big mistake! 

For the most part, I LOVED this trail. It was woodsy and I loved the challenges of crossing streams and climbing up ridges. However, there was a glaring part that kept this from being a 5 star hike. At the 1 mile point, you leave the woods and have to walk along the railroad tracks and then follow along the guardrail of a road to reach the next section of the wooded trail. I totally get that this trail runs through urban areas so it can’t be woods the whole time. But walking along the train tracks and the road felt a little dicey to me. Thankfully it was only for a short time and the fantastic woods really made up for it! 

As always with hiking, it’s important to remember that, as hikers, we’re just visitors in nature’s home. Always keep your eyes peeled for wildlife like this little snake we saw! He’s just a common garter snake, but it’s important to know that we do have venomous snakes in this area and it’s best to give all wildlife the space they need! 

This will definitely be just the first of many trips on the Rachel Carson Trail for Hikes & Hops! Do you have a favorite section of this trail??

THE BEER: Acrospire Brewery Company

Address: 1650 Butler Plank Rd, Glenshaw, PA 15116
Distance from Trail Head: 6.4 miles, 16 mins 
Website: http://acrospirebrewingco.com/
Food?: BYOF
Details: Outdoor seating only & dog friendly
H&H Rating: 4/5

I really need to start venturing north of the city more often because there are so many breweries! Acrospire grabbed my attention since it’s so close to North Park! It was the perfect place for us to stop by in the evening. At first, I was worried because I didn’t realize they only did to-go sales. However, they have a nice outdoor space where you can sit and enjoy draft pours. Just be aware that there’s no covered/heated seating for those not so nice days! Acrospire seems to be quite the popular place with the locals, as we saw so many people coming to get growlers and 4-packs for the weekend. I love seeing a community really embrace their local brewery. 

On our visit, we stuck with mostly pale ales since we were craving something refreshing after our sweaty hike. My favorite of the night was the Kaleidoscope which balances a deliciously fruity flavor with some solid NEIPA hoppiness. J really liked the West Coast IPA which had a very strong pine-y flavor. I’m so glad we made it out to Acrospire and I’m looking forward to what the future brings for them. They just announced future plans to open a new production facility and taproom!

Our Beer:

  • Swamp Thing – West Coast IPA – 7.2%
  • Serendipity – IPA – 7.2%
  • Kaleidoscope – New Zealand IPA – 6%
  • Hear no Evil – Ginger Wheat Beer – 5.4%

SUM UP: The Rachel Carson Trail is a 45 mile point to point trail that runs across northern Allegheny County. It’s well known for its challenging terrain and many stream crossings. This hike tackled a small portion of the trail starting in North Park and turning around at Route 8. There’s plenty of parking at the trail head and leashed pets are welcome! After your trek, head over to Glenshaw to sample the brews at Acrospire! They’ve got a surprising variety of taps for a small operation and everything is expertly made. They don’t have a taproom, but you can get drafts to-go and sit outside on their patio! Keep an eye out for their upcoming expansion and taproom!