Staff Picks: The best nature spots at Pitt


Dalia Maeroff | Senior Staff Photographer

The Cathedral lawn, one of Pitt’s best “nature” spots on campus.

By The Pitt News Staff

We’ve all had those weeks when we can’t remember the last time we went outside our dorm other than to grab some food from the dining hall. Break that habit and plan a day out in the sunshine at one of Pitt’s best “nature” spots on campus. All are within walking distance, so there’s no excuse not to go check them out.

The Pete Lawn // Diana Velasquez, Culture Editor

Ah, the mysteries of upper campus. For many Pitt students there is little reason to go up there, unless it’s for your bi-weekly trip to Chick-Fil-A at the Pete that may or may not be worth the 25-minute wait in line. Some people will say there’s no real reason to go up here — it’s disconnected, it’s distant. Well, it is a bit of a hike to upper campus, but for the serene atmosphere that the Pete’s big green lawn has, the hike is totally worth it.

The Pete lawn was my favorite spot to chill when I lived in Panther Hall my sophomore year. It’s just a short walk from the upper campus dorms if you’re planning on living there. It’s a great place to sunbathe, read a book, do some homework or break out a soccer ball if you want to get active. It’s a giant lawn so a lot of people can fit on it without the space feeling cramped, unlike some of the spots on lower campus. So next time you make that venture up Cardiac Hill, make sure to take your tasty chicken sandwich and sweet tea and set up shop at one of the tables by the lawn, or sprawl out on the grass. Let the sound of the Presby helicopters wash over you and bask in the sunshine.

The Carnegie Library Patio // Maria Scanga, For The Pitt News

It’s already such a gift to have the historic main Carnegie Library right in the heart of campus, but the gifts of the library just keep on giving as you meander through its museum marble-like architecture and adorable book alcoves tucked way in the back of the first floor. And if the library part of it isn’t exciting enough, the little outdoor patio in the center of the building is the biggest surprise of all. I stumbled upon it one night in a desperate attempt to find an open study space, and it has been warming my tired college student heart ever since. 

The patio has outdoor tables and chairs that are the perfect size to spread out your books, notes and laptop. It’s also perfect for studying with a friend or two. The space is decorated with green ivy and cozy fairy lights, so it doesn’t feel like studying in a typical college library. The sun hits just right, not too overpowering, but not super chilly. Even though it’s in the middle of the library and locked in by the library’s walls, the patio sits above bushes and small trees. Birds are always sneaking their way onto the patio for some peace and quiet, and hearing their chirps in their background makes you feel very connected to nature. 

Cathy Lawn // Julia DiPietro, For The Pitt News

While the Cathy lawn may be deemed one of Pitt’s most popular and bustling locations, it’s for good reason. Being at the center of campus, it’s only a short walk from the lower campus dorms. On sunny days, you can find students packed out on the grass in hammocks, playing games or doing homework. Once the weather hits 55 degrees, it’s only a matter of time before the infamous spike ball games start popping up. What some people might not catch is that it’s also an underrated location for a beautiful Pittsburgh sunrise.

The best spot is right behind the Heinz Memorial Chapel. Sit out on a blanket with friends in the early morning and immerse yourself in the glowy bright horizon. The green grass is layered with crisp dew, the sun illuminates the surrounding buildings, Cathy herself is tinted a vibrant orange color. For a first-year just getting to know campus, you can’t beat this hidden gem. It’s a great spot to be with nature on quiet mornings, particularly when you want to avoid the crowds of people that come later on in the day.

Schenley Park // Kaitlyn Nuebel, Staff Writer

People who are weary about going to college in a city often fear that they will have to sacrifice the typical green campus look for concrete and traffic. Lucky for you, Pitt has the best of both worlds, but unfortunately Pitt’s tuition doesn’t include a Hannah Montana wig. 

I’m talking, of course, about Schenley Park. There are plenty of green spaces where you can relax on campus, but Schenley Park is where you go to sweat out any of the semester stress with a hike or round of disc golf. No matter what you want to do outdoors, you’ll probably find room for it somewhere within Schenley’s 456 acres of land. The park includes a playground, skate rink, track, soccer field, softball field, some tennis courts, a golf course and a bunch of other things that I’ve read about but never actually seen. 

So if you’re worried that Pittsburgh won’t have enough nature for you to enjoy, don’t be. If you’re like me, you’ll get lost every time you go to Schenley Park. Ironically, this is about four more times than I’ve gotten lost in the City. My advice is to take your phone with you — or better yet, a friend.