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Welcome to Pittsburgh: Bike Trails!

Welcome to Pittsburgh is a new series of posts on Eleventh Stack that will highlight important information and resources for those who are new to our Most Livable City, whether you come from across the state or across the world. And if you’ve always called Pittsburgh home, there’s plenty here for you, too! Feel free to email suggestions for this column to eleventhstack [at] carnegielibrary [dot] org.

This past Saturday, April 8th, was National Opening Day for Rail-Trails across the country. As I’ve shared in the past, I’m a huge fan of of the many bike trails in and around the city of Pittsburgh. In celebration of Opening Day, I’m going to share three easy-to-moderate bike rides that do not require much riding on the road.

Ride #1 – Eliza Furnace/South Side Loop

The view from the Southside. Photos by the author unless otherwise stated.


The first is a short six-mile loop on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, from the Hot Metal Bridge to the Smithfield Bridge and back (on the north shore of the Monongahela River the trail is called The Eliza Furnace Trail, and on the south it’s called The Southside Trail). If you’re in a hurry you can typically finish this ride in 30 minutes, although should you choose to take it easy there are lots of nice views and interesting places to stop and grab a snack. If you’re driving to the trail you can park at the South Side Works or across the river at the Eliza Furnace Parking Lot.


The Smithfield Bridge.


This is a great ride for beginners as it’s flat and only has one short stretch on the South Side that requires you to ride on the street for a couple blocks. Bonus: you can cap off your ride with a discount matinee in an air-conditioned theater.


Ride #2 – North Shore Trail

A view from the North Shore.


This is a 12-mile out-and-back ride along the shores of the Allegheny and Ohio Rivers, with terrific views of Downtown Pittsburgh. It is also a very gentle, flat ride that requires no road riding. There is plenty of free parking at the Millvale Riverfront Park, and you will follow the trail along the North Side for 6-miles until ending near The Manchester Craftsman’s Guild.


The bicycle from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, on view at Bicycle Heaven.


For a fun detour you can follow the signs at the end of the trail to Bicycle Heaven, a free bike museum that really has to be seen to be believed. (No joke, it’s probably my favorite museum in Pittsburgh!) And if you’re looking for some quick grub to eat before hopping on your bike and heading back you might enjoy seeking out Don’s Diner — if you can find it. Much like a troll it’s quietly hidden under a bridge.


Ride #3 – McKeesport/Boston Yough River Loop

Boats on the Youghiogheny River.


This ride is slightly longer than the first two (about 8.5 miles) and has a few hills/ramps, as well as stretches on both sides of the Yough where you will need to share the road with other modes of transportation. It’s still a gentle enough ride for a beginner, though. From McKeesport you will ride along the Youghiogheny River; when you get to the 15th Street Bridge you will continue along the Mon/Yough River Trail rather than crossing the bridge.


The ruins in Dead Man’s Hollow. From the website:


Eventually you will cross the Boston Bridge which will bring you to the Boston Trailhead. You will then follow the GAP (Greater Allegheny Passageway) trail back to McKeesport. If you’re looking for a detour along the way you can always park your bike at the spookiley named Dead Man’s Hollow for a short walk in the woods.

Bonus ride: There’s a lovely, well-shaded little trail in Pittsburgh’s Duck Hollow neighborhood, which is perfect for a short bike ride or an afternoon stroll on a hot summer day.

Enjoy the ride!


Looking for more rides?

Read Bike Rides Out of Pittsburgh

Tara is a Librarian in the Music, Film & Audio Department, and loves to make film & book recommendations. Some of her interests include gardening, cookbooks, foreign films, comedy albums and devastating literary fiction.

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