“This underutilized trail is a gem within Pittsburgh's city limits.
— Jake Baechle
Along the way, you'll encounter rocks and waterfalls as well as big open views of downtown Pittsburgh and Oakland. It is hilly but well worth the challenge.
Thanks to a collaboration between the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, Mount Washington CDC, the Student Conservation Association and the South Side Slopes Association most of the tread and corridor for this trail was improved in 2014.
Need to Know
The plateau at South Side park is occasionally used as an informal evening event venue. Additionally, there have been reports of dirt bikers in the upper portions of South Side Park. Dirt biking is illegal in City of Pittsburgh Parks, and has negatively affected trail development.
All City of Pittsburgh parks close at dusk. Please visit South Park and its trails in the daytime. If you see any of these illegal activities, please contact the City of Pittsburgh Police Department.
The entrance off of 18th Street can be difficult to spot, but there is a wooden sign at the intersection that leads you down to a parking lot next to the South Side Saber's Football Field.
Unfortunately, the trailhead is not easy to spot. From the parking area climb the concrete staircase to the football field. At the top of the stairs take an immediate left and follow the sidewalk toward the woods. From here the trail should be easy to follow.
Most of the uphill is in this first section. You'll see an old foundation that belongs to some unknown piece of South Side's history. The trail should be clear, but if you see any forks of old trail stay right.
Eventually, you'll connect with a paved trail. This is another entrance to the Ol Renziehausen from Arlington Field. Follow the pavement to the left. The pavement ends at a huge view to the east known by many of the locals as "Jurassic Park."
After enjoying the view, look back and to your right. Here you'll see the trail leaving the pavement and meandering down through the woods. Near the bottom of the hill, the trail will fork once more. STAY LEFT. The trail to the right obviously leads to a third trailhead at Bandi Schaum Field.
If you stayed left, you'll soon find yourself at another huge viewpoint. This time you'll have a beautiful view of downtown Pittsburgh and Oakland. (Probably one of the best views in the city.) This plateau is occasionally used as a campsite. If you see any tents or unwelcoming people please report it to the police. If you visit the park in the daytime you shouldn't run into issues.
From the viewpoint continue along the trail to the south. You'll pass old foundation pillars on your way down and then arrive at the last point of interest: a small but lovely waterfall.
The trail continues through the woods just a short way back to the parking lot where you began.
Flora & Fauna
South Side Park is home to almost every invasive plant known to Pittsburgh. Volunteer groups are doing their best to battle these pesky plants. If you feel like helping, sign up for a volunteer day with a local non-profit. The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
also sells books on Invasive Plant Identification that includes recommended methods of removal.