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North Park (map)

 

North Park is an Allegheny County Park.  If you plan on hiking here, I recommend downloading the Allegheny County Parks app and, within the app, downloading the map of this park for offline use. 

Even though the app hangs at times and may need to be restarted, it shows you all the blazed trails and its GPS function shows you exactly where you are on the trail.  The website with interactive maps, PDF maps and links to the app is here.

 

Opened in 1931, North Park is a park of superlatives:

At 3,075 acres (12 km2), North Park is the largest county park in Allegheny County

It features the largest man-made lake (75 acres) in Allegheny County

It was one of the largest swimming pools in the US when it opened in 1937 with about 100x more water than the average swimming pool.  It is 350ft (105m) x 165ft (50m) and has space for 5,000 people

The park also has something for everyone: blazed trails for hiking and biking, kayaking and stand-up boarding on the lake (there is a boat launch and boat rental), restaurant at the Boathouse, picnic groves, tennis courts, basketball courts, golf course, ice skating rink, movie theater, and the "Braille Trail", an easy 0.4 mile loop trail for the visually impaired.

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Pin these for later:

Pittsburgh Travel Guide showing the lake at Crooked Creek Lake Park
Pittsburgh Travel Guide showing a lake at Hillman Park
Pittsburgh Travel Guide showing an art installation at Hartwood Acres
Pittsburgh Travel Guide showing a covered bridge in McConnell's Mill Park
Lake in North Park
Boathouse near the lake in North Park

Fountain of Youth

One of the lesser known destinations in North Park is the Fountain of Youth (map).  It was built in 1938 as “a springhouse designed as a grotto typical in every detail of a Roman cavern” for a natural spring.  There are a few parking spaces along the road and the unmarked trail is about 100ft (30m) long.  Be aware that the trail starts out with a steep descent to a small creek. 

In 1953, the pump failed and two years later it was determined that the little water that still flowed was not suitable for human consumption anymore.  Today, the Fountain of Youth is dry and has graffiti inside. 

Fountain of Youth in North Park
Fountain of Youth in North Park
Fountain of Youth sign in North Park
Fountain of Youth in North Park
Fountain of Youth in North Park

The trails are in the woods or at the forest’s edge for most of the time.  A nice, albeit moderate to difficult, hike starts near the North Park Lake Boat Ramp (map) on the North Ridge Trail (red blaze symbol).  The trail first goes along the lake, at a higher elevation, and then turns towards the north west.  Depending on how long you want to hike, you can continue on this path and turn around at some point.  When you get closer to the lake again, you will see another trail red with black dot blaze symbol branch off to the right.  Follow this trail and towards you will see a ruin of, what I believe is an old stone shelter, inside the forest.  You can still go there are relax, before continuing to near the boat launch.

Lake with boat launch in North Park
Hiking trail in North Park
Hiking trail in North Park
Hiking trail in North Park
Hiking trail in North Park
Ruin of historic shelter near hiking trail in North Park

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