A pretty exploratory fall hike in Frick Park and Duck Hollow

Abby and I hadn’t gone hiking for a while, because of schedules, but decided on a free Sunday afternoon to simply go for an exploratory hike in our local Frick Park, as we’ve done many times before. There’s never any shortage of ways to try something new. Lately, this has meant exploring narrow and hilly trails that mountain bikers use. We have to be careful on these to avoid a bike coming down out of nowhere!

We hiked about eight miles, starting with familiar territory but then entering the very strange!


I took a few photos along the way that you can check out.

Frick Park

We started by walking to and then entering Frick Park at the Blue Slide Playground at Beechwood and Nicholson, then taking Riverview Trail and then the Firelane Trail Extension down into Fern Hollow onto the Firelane Trail, meeting up with the Deer Creek Trail.

After crossing Commercial St, leaving Frick Park, we headed onto Nine Mile Run Trail. We noticed that the construction site that had been there for something like two years had finally been cleared away. It was about time!

It was peaceful and relaxing on Nine Mile Run.

Slag heap

Continuing on Nine Mile Run Trail, we reached the bridge and I was originally planning to continue on Nine Mile Run Trail, but happened to notice an intriguing steep trail up on a slag heap area right at the bridge. What the heck, why not explore it? We wished we had brought hiking poles, but fashioned some sticks from tree branches lying around, and proceeded up.

In theory I could have tried to figure out where we were, since I had my phone on me, but I like randomly exploring without having any idea where we are going; there was no way to get hopelessly lost anyway.

There were a whole bunch of switchbacks leading upward and we followed them for some time until reaching a particularly roller-coaster section going into a valley, and decided we had enough, especially since we spotted a mountain biker further up somewhere.

We turned off and took a trail heading just downhill, hoping to emerge somewhere in “civilization” eventually, maybe rejoin Nine Mile Run Trail that we had abandoned at the bridge. Meanwhile, we had clear views of the Waterfront across the Monongahela River. I figured we were in Duck Hollow somewhere.

Railroad tracks

Indeed, we emerged by the railroad tracks along the Mon. We walked along the railroad tracks for a bit and reached familiar territory, McFarren St. We got back onto the Nine Mile Run Trail to start heading home.

Back into Frick Park and home

Many trails lead to home.

Instead of returning the way we came, we took the very windy Iron Grate Trail instead, and eventually made it back to the Blue Slide Playground (taking Jay’s Short Cut) and back onto the streets of Squirrel Hill.

What were those slag heap trails anyway?

I went online and looked for information on those slag heap trails and that whole area. As far as I can tell, the following are useful information from mountain bike community descriptions:


Abby and I had fun time on a great fall afternoon exploring trails we’d never been on before. We definitely plan to go back and explore more, with hiking poles, ha!

I’m amazed by and grateful for what we can experience outdoors in nature even while embedded in the city of Pittsburgh.

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