Mountain biking is a great activity — it was even being featured in this year’s Olympic games in Rio. But you don’t need to be an athlete to enjoy it. Pittsburgh has plenty to offer the casual biker, with a number of trails in parks across the city. But what about those looking for a little more excitement? The city has something for mountain bikers, too, from great practice spots to challenging mountainous trails to put your skills to a real test and even an indoor bike park. Here are some of the city’s best spots to mountain-bike.
North Park has some great singletrack trails for mountain biking — the Pfundstein Trail, named and built in honor of a local rider, runs nearly six miles with plenty of climbs, descends, and turns, while a freeride area includes a trail and skills area designed for beginner to intermediate riders with jumps, drops, and skinnies. Riders are asked not to use the skills area when wet, however, and it’s closed from December until May. As for those new to mountain biking, they can ride the Beginner Pool Loop, a mostly flat trail with some small logs and rocks to navigate around.
The Wheel Mill
Want to go biking on a rainy day or even in the winter? You don’t have to stay stuck inside wishing for better weather — head to The Wheel Mill in Homewood, the city’s first indoor bike park. Features include a flow mountain bike room, jump room, pump track, cross-country loop, technical mountain bike room, mini ramp room, fundamental skills area, beginner jump line, park room, foam pit and resi ramp and BMX gate. You can even rent bikes and other equipment from The Wheel Mill, and their use isn’t limited just to the indoor park. The Wheel Mill also offers private lessons and summer camps, as well as plenty of promo nights throughout the week to save a few bucks on admission and season passes.
You’ll have to venture a ways out of the city to visit Seven Springs — and although the resort is known mostly for its skiing in the winter, it’s also got some great mountain biking with over 20 miles of trails. The resort’s biking trails are serviced by chair lift, with the North Face trail suitable for all experience levels. The Front Face area offers numerous trails for every skill level, from the beginners’ Rock and Roll trail to the more advanced Upper and Lower ECs. You’ll have to purchase a ticket to bike, though. Daily permit rates run $35 during the week or $42 on weekends, or you can buy a season pass for $260 before mid-May or $320 after. Seven Springs also has easy access to the Great Allegheny Passage, a 150-mile system of trails which connects Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Maryland.
Ohiopyle’s mountain location in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands means it’s kind of a given when it comes to mountain-biking spots. Rent a bike there and hit the trails, whether you want to catch the Great Allegheny Passage or try the state park’s own trails. Ohiopyle has over 30 miles of mountain-biking trails, plus other trails in the area, such as the Sugarloaf Trail, which has three loops that can be combined to create a trip of your preferred length and difficulty or the 24-mile, nonlinear Three Rivers Heritage Trail, which connects to Pittsburgh.
Frick Park offers riders four singletrack descents great for beginner riders–the Falls Ravine trail is well-suited for intermediate riders, while beginners might want to start with the fairly level Tranquil Trail. The park’s trails are accessible year-round, and the park has a network of unmarked single-track trails.
Janelle Sheetz is a 20-something closed-captioner by day, writer by night, just outside of Pittsburgh. She also regularly contributes to AXS.com and Examiner.com, and her writing has also been featured on The Billfold and Neutrons Protons.