Adventure? For some, it’s a daring expedition into the unknown, conquering uncharted territories, and pushing personal boundaries. For others, it’s moments of exploration, discovering hidden gems in familiar places, or even just immersing oneself in nature’s wonders. In and around Pittsburgh, we have an array of thrilling outdoor activities that cater to every adventurer’s soul. Each one of us can create lasting memories with just the right amount of excitement and discovery for everyone. 

Outdoor Activities Near Pittsburgh

Rock Climbing 

Indoor climbing walls are a blast but nothing compares to the sensation of gripping real rock in the fresh mountain air. Western PA boasts a variety of climbing spots, from the renowned crags of McConnells Mill State Park to small gems like Breakneck, an hour outside of the city. 

Waterfall Hike 

Waterfalls evoke a sense of adventure, beckoning us to head into the heart of untamed landscapes in search of them. Whether hidden deep within dense forests or cascading down rugged mountainsides, each waterfall offers a thrilling journey filled with anticipation and discovery. Water makes a nice hike even better. Check out the Slippery Rock Gorge Trail at McConnells Mill State park to see a bunch of them. 


I think the adventure part to fishing is the search for the perfect spot to cast your line and connect with nature. Whether casting from a boat or the shoreline it’s the quiet serenity of the water and the simple joy of waiting for a bite that makes fishing enjoyable. We have a lot of places to fish in around Pittsburgh, but if you really want to get away from the city try Lake Arthur at Moraine State Park. 

A guy riding a BMX bike caught mid-air during a stunt in a forest backdrop

BMX Bike Riding 

There is something special about being on a BMX bike as an adult. The excitement combines with nostalgia for simpler times riding around exploring the neighborhood or practicing tricks with your friends. Take a break from adult responsibilities and get reacquainted with the joy and freedom of bike riding. Take your bike out to the skills park at North Park to step out of your comfort zone, stay for the trails. 


One of my favorite things about kayaking is the unique perspective on wildlife and nature that it gives you. The rhythmic dip of the paddle, the gentle lapping of water against the kayak , and the views in every direction are the perfect way to immerse yourself in the outdoors. It makes for a great solo activity or with friends and family. North Park is a great place to rent one if you are new to it. Get out there and have some fun! 

A little girl and a grown up female doing water tubing on a green and black tube

Water Tubing 

If you are looking for something exciting and fun that is good for all ages, water tubing is a great option. The rush of wind on your face as you bounce and skim over the water as the driver is doing their best to make you fall off always brings the laughs. Sure, we have three rivers in our backyard. But make an adventure out of it and head to Deep Creek Lake sometime. You can get a group of friends and split the cost to rent a boat and create memories that you won’t soon forget. 


Despite the stereotype that birding is only for retirees armed with binoculars and guidebooks, it’s actually a fascinating activity. I know it is probably not the first thing that comes to mind as an adventure but when you think about it, it’s a scavenger hunt searching for some of the most beautiful and interesting creatures all around us. It is an endlessly fascinating hobby for anyone with an appreciation for the natural world. The best part about it is that you can do it ANYWHERE! That being said if you want to make a day out of it head to the Wildflower Reserve at Raccoon Creek State Park for a birding hike.

A female backpacker standing at the edge of a cliff with a blue sky and mountains in the background


Embarking on a backpacking trip is to answer the call of adventure itself, it’s an invitation to venture beyond the familiar and experience places and things that you normally don’t. Some of my favorite memories are ones deep in the wilderness with my friends when unexpected things happened. One of my favorites for backpacking is North Fork Mountain trail in the Monongahela National Forest

Winter Hiking 

If you ask me, winter hikes in the snow are so much better than ones on a sunny summer day. Traversing through snow-dusted forests with far less hikers compared to other seasons makes it extra special. I think winter gets a bad rap in Pittsburgh, if you dress properly then spending hours outside in the snow exploring is a great way to make an adventure. Head to the mountains where there is a better chance of snow and do a section of the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail

A huge constellation of stars with trees visible in the night light


Cherry Springs State Park is the perfect place for views of the night sky you can’t get near the city. Because of its remote location it is one of the best places for stargazing on the East Coast. It is also designated as a Gold Level International Dark Sky Park so visitors can expect unparalleled clarity and visibility of astronomical phenomena, including the Milky Way Galaxy, distant galaxies, and nebulae. Reserve a campsite and make your own weekend adventure. 

Dirty Dozen Race 

The Dirty Dozen Race is a legendary cycling competition held annually in Pittsburgh. Started by the legendary Danny Chew in the 1980s, it has grown to be one of the city’s most exciting and singular events. Whenever I talk about the race, I have to mention that one of my best friends, Steevo Cummings, won 10 years in a row. (Don’t worry he is too old now to win!) You don’t have to race to be a part of it: just attempt to finish which is no easy feat. I don’t think there is anything more Pittsburgh than riding your bike up 13 of our steepest hills. This is not for everyone but if you think you are up for the challenge give it a try! 

Story and Photography by Matt Dayak 

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