UPDATED JUL 8, 2020
From bustling to downright serene, our city is crisscrossed with stretches best explored by bike. If you’re looking for a quick jaunt or you’re in it for the long haul, we’ve gathered up the must-try trails.
Prepare to get lost in over 24 miles of Pittsburgh history. The Three Rivers Heritage Trail is a combination of the best biking trails throughout the city, connecting neighborhoods, sights, sounds, and cultures. North Shore Trail, Lawrenceville Trail, Millvale Trail, Eliza Furnace Trail, South Side Trail – they’re all part of this awesome network of paved wonderland, well-maintained by a few hometown organizations. Take the whole squad and say cruise past PNC Park, the Point, and Kennywood!
Eliza Furnace Trail is the oldest leg of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, and it’s also possibly the most unique — there's so much to look at, it'll be difficult to keep your eyes in front of your handle bars. It features signs from the steel days, winds between Second Avenue and Parkway East, and passes right under the Allegheny County Jail, giving it the nickname “The Jail Trail”. You can even bike right from downtown on your lunch break.
The South Side Riverfront Trail is beautiful in the summer. And that's a well-known fact, so be prepared to share the riverside path with fellow bikers, joggers, rollerbladers, and dog-walkers. This paved trail starts at 4th Street Station Square and ends five miles later at Riverfront Park, 18th Street South Side. After your ride, lounge on the lawn or finish with a beverage at Over the Bar on Carson Street.
If you get caught up cruising along the South Side Riverfront Trail, you may not realize that you’re in the heart of steel country — Steel Valley. It has the same Pittsburgh steel roots and shadows the railroad on the Monongahela River. Plus, it’s the start of the Great Allegheny Passage (but we're getting ahead of ourselves). And while this paved trail passes right by Sandcastle and Kennywood, the real fun is to be had is on your bicycle. Oh, and keep an eye out for bald eagles!
Are you ready for a big adventure? Pack your saddlebags full of camping gear and Clif Bars and embark on the Great Allegheny Passage (aka the Gap Trail). You’re able to bike from the Point, connect to the Eliza Furnace or South Side Riverfront trails, and shoot out the aforementioned Steel Valley portion. From there, you’re on a carless and woodsy 150-mile ride to Cumberland, MD. The trail is an epic climb and crosses the Eastern Continental Divide. It’s also the ultimate exercise/outdoorsy combo and a must for any bicycle enthusiast!
Riverview Park in the Perry North neighborhood is like Frick Park in the sense that it’s got awesome mountain bike trails — about eight miles of ’em. It also has a designated bike loop around the paved areas of the park. People praise Riverview for its quick hills, technical riding areas, and low traffic. Apparently not many people know about the thrilling terrain just above the North Shore. Well… you do now.
The Montour Trail is another spot built on history. Intended as a railroad to move coal from mines in Mifflin and Library to the hotbed of the steel activity in Pittsburgh, the road has been re-purposed to become one of longest trails of its kind in the U.S. It’s a rural, 47-mile trail full of dark tunnels and wooden bridges and spans from Coraopolis to Clairton. For a quick pitstop, swing by the trailside coffee and ice cream shops of Arrowhead Trail in Peters Township.
What about a trip up North? Head to the Great Lakes via the Erie-to-Pittsburgh Trail. The ETP connects the Perry Monument at Presque Isle Park in Erie to the Point of Pittsburgh and winds through Western PA. While a few large gaps remain in the trail, plans are in place to create a continuous 270-mile trail. In the meantime, you'll have to share some of this route with motorists.
If you’re a Pittsburgher and haven’t been to Frick Park, you’re doing it wrong. This 644 acre escape is a stone’s throw from downtown and is a haven for the off-road adventurist — it's loaded with mountain biking loops and trails of varying difficulties. You can bike all over the park, then link up with the Braddock Trail or Nine Mile Run. It has also been said that you can bike for more than half an hour without running into the same patch of trail!
Need a refreshing bike ride? Why not try the 29-mile stretch of stream and wilderness of the Panhandle Trail that starts in Carnegie and ends near Weirton, WV. If you’re making a day of it, picnic tables and public bathrooms are available at McDonald, PA, at the intersection of the Montour Trail. Panhandle really is special, though. It’s a relatively flat road, and fun fact: the trail is made of crushed limestone taken from existing limestone deposits that can be seen from the route.
North Park is already the place for picnics, jungle gyms, paddleboarding, and a pool. But it’s also a great spot for every type of biking. Occupy one of the bicycle lanes looping five miles around North Park Lake. Or, if you’re a bit more extreme, try out one of their mountain bike trails. Even more extreme? Visit North Park Freeride Area, a mountain biking skills park where you can perfect expert drops, jump lines, and lines of “skinnies”.
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