We have to admit, Jack Frost nipping at your nose is not always as cute as it sounds; getting outdoors and exploring the parks in Pittsburgh winters is a challenge.
But the brisk is definitely worth the reward. The parks in winter are a wonderland; and more often than not the parks are quieter and less crowded, almost like you have them to yourself.
A good place to start are the parks trails, which are open all year. Take care to watch for icy and snowy conditions, though, since trails are not salted so as to protect the park ecosystems. And the Citiparks Schenley Skating Rink is a must-do activity.
We highly recommend joining the slew of groups that aren't afraid of a little cold and are out and about in the parks all winter. Get to know them if you don't already:
The mighty, mighty Urban EcoStewards
The exceptionally friendly Urban EcoStewards use the winter as a time to hone their skills for the warmer months, and are always looking for new recruits. After the annual Winter Gathering (held this year on January 10th), various partner organizations will host a free and open training once a month covering a range of topics. Join them for sessions on crew leading, dump site cleanup, stream flow monitoring, and more. And while you're at it, feel free to sign up to steward your own piece of the park!
The hiking aficionados
The Pittsburgh Hiking Meetup Group eats, sleeps, and dreams in their Keens. Hikes span a range of difficulty levels and terrain, and are led entirely by volunteers who love the outdoors. Pick and choose the times and places you'd like to meet up, and don't worry, there are a number of treks that end at eateries.
Three Rivers Birding Club
The Three Rivers Birding Club (3RBC) takes full advantage of the fallen leaves to go bird in the parks. Sign up for their mailing list for daily updates on bird sightings and upcoming events and dig into their active forum to connect with local birders. Then, gear up for one of 3RBC’s organized events in the parks and around the region.
Follow the fearless volunteers at Venture Outdoors on hikes with themes like Soup of the Month, Winter Tree ID, or Cocoa and Cookie Adventure through the parks. Or, pick up skills like snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Offering over 500 public programs a year, you're bound to find something that will inspire you to venture outdoors.
There are countless ways to enjoy the parks even on the coldest days. We'd love to hear what inspires you to play outside. Share your thoughts below!