Emerald View Trail & Inner Groove Brewing (Allentown)

Mt. Washington, PA

This loop is the best of urban hiking! It starts out on the wooded Emerald View trail, meandering around Mt. Washington then pops you out right at the overlook! From there, enjoy walking along Grandview Ave and then back through the historic neighbors of Mt. Washington. If you’re feeling extra frisky, you can even continue along the Grandview park section of the Emerald View trail. Or stop for a rest and treat at the Shiloh Street shops! The world is your oyster with this one. One big recommendation though is to end your excursion with a visit to Inner Groove’s Allentown taproom! They’ve got awesome beer, bar games, and an outdoor patio. What more could you want?

THE HIKE: Emerald View Loop

Length: 5 miles
Elevation Gain: 660 ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Time: 2 hours
Trail use: Hiking, Biking, Leashed pets
Parking: Various parking lots and street parking
H&H: 3/5

As much as I love visiting state parks with acres and acres of untouched greenery, there’s also something to be said for our local CitiParks which are doing a lot with the little bits of greenspace they can find! One of my new favorites has been the Emerald View trail on Mt. Washington. I used to see the signs for trail crossings on my commute home from work and always wondered about where it could lead. Well last weekend, J and I decided to find out! 

Emerald View Park is one of the many green spaces maintained by the City of Pittsburgh Citiparks and their awesome group of rangers! This park encompasses over 250 acres on Mt. Washington and is a successful story of restoration. In Pittsburgh’s early days, Mt. Washington was heavily mined for soft coal, so much that it became known as Coal Hill. In the 1930s, access to the housing communities on Mt. Washington was created, including some of Pittsburgh well known streets like McArdle, Shiloh, and Grandview. Into the 1970s, the City took greater strides to regulate mining and to take advantage of the beautiful view. The scenic overlooks were built and groups started to advocate for the restoration of the area. Finally in 2007, the park was named as a regional park! 

This is such a great park system because there are beautiful wooded areas right in the midst of an urban neighborhood, then suddenly you come out to that iconic view of pittsburgh! We started our trek by parking at Olympia Park and heading right into the woods at the end of Hallock street.. We stayed on the Emerald View trail, although there are several other offshoot trails and neighborhood access points. I really loved this section of the trail because we were able to be in such a little slice of nature while also looking out over the hills to see the highways and iconic Pittsburgh neighborhoods. As you start into the big turn to head towards Mt. Washington and the overlooks, you’ll encounter the steepest parts of this hike. It can’t be Pittsburgh without some inclines! Finally, the Emerald View Trail pops out right on Grandview Ave by the Point of View Sculpture (Jim West, 2006). From there, the trail turned into more of an Urban walk as we stopped at the Duquesne Incline and the various overlook spots. My favorite viewpoint is by the St. Mary of the Mount church! We continued on Grandview Ave until we reached the Monogahela Incline, then started to make our way back towards Olympia Park. This was about a 5 mile loop! If you were looking for more, you could also add in the 2 mile loop in Grandview Park! 

This was a great hike to explore our city a bit more and also to appreciate the wonderful greenspaces that exist in the city limits! This park has definitely inspired me to check out more of the City’s regional and neighborhood parks! Do you have a favorite?

THE BEER: Inner Groove Brewing

Address: 827 E Warrington Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15210
Distance from Trail Head: 2 miles, 8 mins 
Website: https://www.innergroovebrewing.com/
Food?: BYOF or takeout
Details: Outdoor seating, dog friendly outside

Inner Groove is a microbrewery based out of Verona, which is quite a trek for me! So I was really excited when they opened a taproom in the City of Pittsburgh up in the Allentown neighborhood of Mt. Washington. This taproom is still fairly new, having opened in May 2022 and boasts a large taproom and nice outdoor side patio. Although they don’t have a kitchen, there are plenty of great places to grab a bit in Allentown. Plus, that also means their taproom is 

dog friendly, as I brought a furry friend with me the first time we visited and sat outside! In addition to a large selection of their own beers, they also have local wine and a selection of cocktails. 

Inner Groove has been a staple in the small borough of Verona since 2019 when two couples finally realized their dream of opening a brewery together. Inner Groove is known for their unique styles and flavors and always has a broad range of beers on tap. As a nod to their name, most of their beers are also inspired by music and feature a music lyric in their names! I love how witty some of them are! 

Inner Groove is a great addition to the Allentown neighborhood and I’m so glad that we have another brewery in our area!

Our Beer:

  • Stout Stout – American Stout – 8.5%
  • Domo – NEIPA – 6.5%
  • Boysen Da Hood – Fruited Sour – 5.3%
  • Daytime Campfire – Smores Stout – 8%
  • Tin Roof – Irish Red – 5.4%

Urban Hike & Strip District

Pittsburgh, PA

One of my absolute favorite places to explore during the holidays in Pittsburgh is The Strip District. This vibrant neighborhood is the best place to find unique gifts, specialty ingredients, and some of the best food in the Burgh! While getting some Christmas shopping done before the holidays, J and I decided to take a walk along the Strip District trail that runs along the Allegheny River to the Point as well as wandering along Penn Ave to all of our favorite shops. The Strip District is quickly becoming a beverage destination and we stopped in the brand new Bonafide Beer Company to warm up after our urban hike! This is your cue to take an urban hike through the Strip District!

THE HIKE: Strip District to Point State Park

Length: 5 miles
Elevation Gain: 20 ft
Difficulty: Easy
Time: 2 hours
Trail use: Walking, biking, leashed pets
Parking: Street parking at 24th street or lots
H&H: 4/5

This is not your typical hike! The Strip District is in my humble opinion one of the coolest places in Pittsburgh. Although certain sections of it have become more modernized and built-up, you can still find pockets of that classic Pittsburgh Charm. The Strip District is the perfect place to go and explore or to pick up some high quality ingredients for a special meal! We have a couple of shops we go to every time we visit and I’ll share them later on! If you’re looking to turn your visit into more of a hike, head towards the Allegheny River and get on the Strip District trail. This is a paved trail that is popular with bikers, walkers, and more. It leads towards the Point where it meets up with the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. The trip from 24th Street in the Strip to the Point is just under 2 miles. 

Roaster at Allegheny Coffee Co
Lunch at Enrico’s Cafe
Wholey’s Seafood

During its industrial heyday, the Strip District’s location along the river made it a perfect spot for mills and factories. Some of the more famous tenants included ALCOA, US Steel, Westinghouse, and the Heinz Company. As an extension of this thriving business, wholesale grocers and other warehouses began to pop up. Although much of the large-scale industry has since moved out of the area, the Strip District retains some of that history by being home to wholesale grocers, ethnic food markets, artisan shops, and restaurants. 

Every time I visit the Strip District, I have a couple stores that I must go to. Firstly, I always have to check what’s on sale at Wholey’s Fish and Meats. One of my favorite holiday traditions is getting our Christmas Eve fish at this long-standing staple of the Strip District. Here you’ll find some of the freshest seafood in the Burgh and high quality cuts of meat. We always have to stop in Mancinis bread too to get something fresh for dinner. Some of my other favorite stores are In The Kitchen, Love Pittsburgh, Penzey’s spices, Pennsylvania Macaroni Company, and Roxane’s Dried Flowers. And what is a visit to the Strip District without stopping for some food? The Strip District is famous for its classic diners, with the most popular being Pamela’s, Kelly O’s, and DeLuca’s. If you’re looking for lunch, one of my favorite hidden secrets is the cafe behind Enrico’s Biscotti. If you didn’t know they had a cafe with brick oven pizza, you’ve got to get yourself right asap! Also if you’re not in the mood to sit, there’s a plethora of excellent street vendors. 

Well that just barely scratches the surface of all that the Strip has to offer! Just remember it’s best to visit in the morning or early afternoon and that it can get pretty busy on the weekend. There’s mostly street parking or lots but definitely expect to pay for parking. If you’re looking just to do the walk to the Point, you’d be better off parking near 24th Street on the road where it’s a little less crowded. Enjoy this gem of a neighborhood! 

THE BEER: Bonafide Beer Company

Address: 155 21st St, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Distance from Trail Head: 0.6 miles, 10 mins walking
Website: http://bonafidebeerco.com/
Food?: No kitchen, get food in the Strip!
Details: Indoor seating only, full bar

Bonafide Beer Co is the newest addition to the growing brewery community in the Strip District! They join Insurrection, Helltown, Cinderlands, Aslin, as well as Kingfly Spirits and Wiggle Whiskey to make the Strip District a drinking destination! Bonafide Beer Co is the brainchild of the co-owner of Butler Beer Works and the owner of PA Libations, so this place really knows its beverages! The small but mighty taproom is located in the former Chicken Latino space in the Strip, across the street from Pamela’s. They focus on sessionable beers that are easy to drink. Nothing fancy here, just good beer! But that doesn’t mean the digs are plain! No, this taproom is unique in that it has a speak-easy, high class vibe. I loved the dark jewel tones and gold finishes. I felt like I was stepping back in time! 

While we couldn’t stay for too long, we really enjoyed our round of beers. The Snug Stout was definitely a stand out, as it wasn’t too bitter and featured a nice chocolatey hint. But if beer isn’t your thing, they also have a full bar featuring lots of PA distilled liquors. Bonafide may not have a kitchen, but there’s no shortage of excellent restaurants and food carts around the area which they highly encourage you to patronize! Overall this is a great addition to the Strip District and we’ll definitely be back!

Our Beer:

Hazy 1 – New England IPA – 6.2%

Snug Stout – Dry Irish Stout – 5%

Urban Hike: Allegheny Cemetery & Coven Brewing

Lawrenceville, PA

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
Difficulty: Easy
Time: 3 hours
Trail use: Walking, running, biking, NO PETS
Parking: Parking at visitor center (Butler Street)
H&H: 4/5

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! 

J.B Ford memorial (founder of PPG)

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! 

Grave of Joseph Wainwright, early brewer in Pittsburgh
Grave of Vietnam War veteran Lester Madden, who favorite movie was Jaws
Grave of Stephen Foster, celebrated composer

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
Website: http://covenbrewingpgh.com/
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!

Our Beer:

  • 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!