Whether you’re a Pittsburgh local or planning a visit to the area, there’s plenty to explore, both inside the city and out, with your dog. From social gatherings to hiking in the woods of Pennsylvania, there are plenty of dog-friendly places within a few hours of the city.
Ohiopyle State Park in Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania
Distance: 75 minutes
Ohiopyle State Park in the Laurel Highlands offers dog owners a bit of everything. Hiking trails abound here – so you can take your pick when it comes to terrain and difficulty – and canines and their owners can enjoy plenty of great views. The park is also a great place for a leisurely walk, particularly the Falls Area and the Great Allegheny Passage, says Ken Bisbee, park operations manager. The entire park, with the exception of a few non-pet loops in campground areas, is pet friendly, he says.
“Starting at the visitor center, there is a three-mile loop utilizing the Great Allegheny Passage, Great Gorge Trail, and Meadow Run Trail from which hikers can see the famous Ohiopyle Falls, Cucumber Falls, Natural Waterslides, and a spectacular overhead view of the Yough River,” Bisbee says.
Because many people walk their pets in the park, leashes are required, he says.
Distance: 70 minutes
About an hour away from downtown Pittsburgh, Youngstown is as dog-friendly as they come. During the summer, you and your pup can explore the Youngstown flea market, which offers live music and plenty of interesting artists and artisans.
Youngstown is also home to Metromutts, a membership program offered by Mill Creek MetroParks that offers scheduled hikes and special recreational and educational opportunities throughout the year.
“There are also wonderful elements of socialization (for both people and dogs) and occasionally the opportunity to give back by bringing items to donate to local rescues,” says Carol Vigorito, recreation and education director at Mill Creek MetroParks.
Hikes often have themes, with holiday or seasonal-themed hikes being the most popular ones.
“Member dogs receive a wearable memento: a themed neckerchief, special collar (jingle bells in December, Mardi Gras beads in March) and sometimes an edible treat,” Vigorito says.
There are also seasonal social gatherings, like popular Halloween ones where owners and their dogs dress up. The organization also offers “members only” dog-friendly opportunities, like boat and trolley rides and participation in local parades.
Mingo Creek County Park in Finleyville, Pennsylvania
Distance: 30 minutes
With a mix of trails where leashed dogs can explore and off-leash areas to run and play, Mingo Creek is a dog-friendly park just minutes away from the bustle of Pittsburgh, according to Emma Schmidt of the Pennsylvania tourism office. One of the main attractions here is the short, moderate trails, that allow dogs of all ages and physical condition to enjoy a walk in the woods without exerting themselves too much. For more energetic dogs, there are also longer trails.
Presque State Park in Erie, Pennsylvania
Distance: Two hours
A beach in Pennsylvania? You bet. Erie’s wonderful lakes offer a chance to experience beach adventures with your pup in tow.
“We have Pennsylvania’s only surf beaches in which pets and pet owners can get outside, get their toes in the sand and get wet with their dogs in Lake Erie,” says Matt Greene, park operations manager at Presque Isle State Park. “We also have over 11 miles of hiking trails that take you through six distinct ecological zones ranging from sand plain and new ponds to forest.”
Dogs and their humans can take a leisurely stroll on the Karl Boyes multipurpose trail and stop by the pet-friendly watering station at the Stull Interpretive Center near Barracks Beach. You can also rent a canoe (bring a lifejacket for your pup!) and explore the park’s internal lagoon system. Pets are also welcome at all the picnic areas throughout the park.
Great Allegheny Passage in Maryland and Pennsylvania
Distance: Many starting points within two hours of Pittsburgh
The Great Allegheny Passage rail trail begins in Point State Park in downtown Pittsburgh, travels along the Monongahela River and many natural and historical landmarks and keeps going all the way to Cumberland, Maryland. You can start anywhere along the way depending on what you want to see. The entire passage is a whopping 150 miles long.
“The trails here offer an ideal surface for dogs as they are packed with smooth crushed limestone and it’s mostly level with an average grade of less than one percent,” says Kristin Wenger, communications director for VisitPittsburgh.com.
Venture Outdoors Activities, throughout Pennsylvania
Distance: From a few minutes to an hour (depending on the outing)
Venture Outdoors is a non-profit organization that offers a number of dog-friendly activities throughout the year. While the company’s office is located in Pittsburgh, many of the activities – including their popular hikes – will take you out of the city and into nature. Past outings have included a doggie day trek in Emerald View Park, which offers off-leash areas, and a “wonderland hike” in Laurel Hill State Park, which features beautiful hemlock groves and a picturesque lake.
Outings are added to the calendar seasonally and feature locations that are appropriate to bring your dog at that time of the year.
“In the summer, Venture Outdoors like to offer dog-friendly hikes at locations with running water,” says Lora Woodward, program director for Venture Outdoors. “For example, Blue Hole in Forbes State Forest is an excellent place to bring your dog so they can run the forest trails and enjoy a cool dip in the local swimming hole.”