Research has shown that spending time outdoors is one of the fastest ways to improve your health and happiness. It’s been linked to lowering stress, blood pressure and heart rate, while promoting physical activity. Fortunately for us, Pittsburgh is packed with plenty of parks, rivers, and trails with breath-taking views that we can explore.
Allegheny County Parks
Every summer, the Allegheny County Parks Department offers outdoor health and fitness programs at Boyce Park, Heartwood Acres, North Park, Settlers Cabin, and South Park. Activities include both low-impact and high-impact exercise and training sessions, as well as educational classes.
Visit the Live Well Allegheny website for more information.
Explore Local Trails
Spanning nearly 37 miles alongside the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers, Three Rivers Heritage Trail is a public route for cyclists, walkers, runners, and in some places rollerbladers.
The Visit Pittsburgh website has information about Three Rivers Heritage Trail and the Montour Trail. If you don’t own a bike or a boat, you can find rental information on the site too.
Keep These Safety Tips in Mind
If you’re taking advantage of one of the trails, or just out to enjoy nature, keep these safety tips in mind:
- Bring someone with you. If you are going it alone, make sure someone knows where you are going. Share your starting location and time and anticipated finish time.
- Have an emergency plan. Plan for the worst! Cell phones don’t always get the best signal in the woods.
- Prepare for the weather. Check the forecast before you head out.
- Wear proper hiking shoes/boats and socks.
- Bring water and snacks that are easy to carry.
- Stay on the trail!
- Know your limitations. Don’t overdo it and take breaks.
- Be aware of wildlife and don’t feed them. Do your research about what wildlife you may encounter.
Protect Yourself from the Sun:
- Avoid the peak hours of sun and heat.
- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen, at least SPF 30. Even if you’re in the woods, the sun can peek through.
Leaves of Three, Let It Be
Those leaves of three are the hallmark characteristic of poison ivy, as well as poison oak, and poison sumac.
- If you do come in contact with any of these, rinse the skin immediately with rubbing alcohol, poison plant wash or degreasing soap (like Dawn), and plenty of water.
- To avoid contact, wear long sleeves, long pants and gloves.
Know and Avoid Poisonous Insects
Ticks, bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, and spiders can all be found in hiking areas:
- Avoid wearing dark clothes, floral prints, loose-fitting clothes and perfumes or cologne.
- Wear an insect repellant containing DEET.
- Tuck your pants into your socks or boots.
Check your body closely for any ticks and, if found, remove them properly.