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Steel Valley Trail

Along Monongahela River in Allegheny County

The route of the Steel Valley Trail runs through the industrial heartland of Allegheny County, passing through four former and current steel operations: the former Homestead, USS Duquesne, and National Tube Works, and the still-active Clairton Coke Works. This trail provides critical links that allow smooth, continuous connections among the major Pittsburgh-area trails. It connects with the Youghiogheny River Trail North at McKeesport, with the Montour Trail at Clairton, and with the Three Rivers Heritage Trails at the Glenwood Bridge.

The route includes 19 miles in a combination of separate trail and bike lanes on roads. It will stay close as possible to the riverfront, but other land uses affects the ultimate trail alignment.

What one typical thinks of the Steel Vally Trail runs from the Glenwood Bridge to McKeesport. There is also a connection from Mckeesport to the montour trail through Glassport to Clairton. Across the river there is the Duck Hollow Trail.

Local history, attractions

The Steel Valley Trail is part of the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area. Extensive historical information is available at their web site, www.riversofsteel.com

Development plans

A parallel trail on the north side of the Monongahela River will eventually cross the Monongahela River on the hot metal bridge from The Waterfront to the historic Carrie Furnace site and continue on the north side of the river to join the Duck Hollow Trail from the mouth of Nine Mile Run to the Glenwood Bridge.

A trail from Duck Hollow up Nine Mile Run into Frick Park has been developed as part of the Nine Mile Run stream restoration. It passes along the lower edge of Summerset at Frick Park, whose 800 housing units on a former slag heap form Pittsburgh’s newest brownfield redevelopment. Updates on this project are at www.ninemilerun.org .

The Steel Valley Trail is one of seven trails in the Allegheny Trail Alliance. The Alliance is coordinating the effort of a trail system connecting Pittsburgh with Washington DC via rail-trails and the C&O Canal Towpath.

Trail organization

Steel Valley Trail Council
PO Box 318
Homestead PA 15120
(412) 464-4020
www.steelvalleytrail.org

Maps, guides, other references

USGS Topographic Maps: Glassport, McKeesport, Braddock, Pittsburgh East.

Glenwood Bridge to McKeesport

For 125 years, steelmaking at the Homestead Works dominated three miles of riverfront here. Little remains of the Homestead mill: the row of tall chimneys, the gantry crane, and the Pump House. The mill is now closed, and the Waterfront shopping center now occupies most of the site.

Construction of the Waterfront development in Homestead created a 1.1-mile section of the Steel Valley Trail. This pleasant crushed limestone path is nicely finished with street lamps, benches, and wrought-iron railings. It starts at the pedestrian bridge near the gantry crane and goes to the back of the adjacent restaurant to the edge of the Monongahela River. From here it goes under the Homestead Bridge and behind some more restaurants. The restaurants give way to businesses, then to apartment buildings. There are views across the river of Duck Hollow and Carrie Furnace. After the last apartment building, the trail returns to the road on a separated bike lane. The lane is 6 feet wide with ballads between the trail and the traffic. At the end of the separated bike lane the trail crosses the wide driveway to Marcegaglia. They are concerned about bicycles interfering with traffic into and out of the parking lots, be cautious here and let the car and truck traffic proceed. After the driveway the trail continues on a paved path on the Pipeline Coaster. << more text after determining direction of description >>

Glenwood Bridge to McKeesport

Location Along Monongahela River in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County

Trailheads The Waterfront

Length, Surface 0.xx miles sidewalk,1.1 miles, packed crushed stone,

0.xx miles paved bike lane, << xx.x>> paved

Character Uncrowded, urban, sunny, flat

Usage restrictions No motorized vehicles; no snowmobiles; no horses

Amenities Food, lodging, fishing

Driving time from Pittsburgh 15 minutes

Local history, attractions

The Battle of Homestead, one of the bloodiest Labor battles in US history, was fought here in 1892. The historic Pump Works lies near the trail on the south side of the river, and the Carrie Furnaces are on the north side. Plans for a Carrie Furnace National Park are in the works.

Development plans

Longer-range plans call for developing the Carrie Furnaces, across the rivers, as a historic site and connecting that site to the Waterfront with a trail on the Hot Metal Bridge upstream from the Waterfront.

Access points

Vicinity: Directions begin on PA837, the Green Belt, on the south side of the Monongahela River at the end of the Glenwood Bridge southeast of downtown Pittsburgh.

The Waterfront: Go southeast on PA837. In Homestead, turn left into the Waterfront shopping center. Work your way through many parking lots toward the river. Park near one of the riverside restaurants; the trail is between the restaurants and the river.

Amenities

Rest rooms, water: In the water tower at the pump house. At nearby stores, for patrons

Bike shop, rentals: None, though the Waterfront has an outdoor store with a bike department, and the hardware megastore has tools and parts.

Restaurant, groceries: Restaurants and grocery stores at the Waterfront.

Camping, simple lodging: No camping. Courtyard, Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn Express in the Waterfront complex.

Swimming, fishing: Sandcastle Waterpark is just west of the Waterfront.

Winter sports: There’s probably too much foot traffic for XC skiing. No snowmobiles.

Wheelchair access: Generally good; no gates.

Maps, guides, other references

Trail brochure

USGS Topographic Maps: Pittsburgh East, Braddock, McKeesport

McKeesport-Glassport-Clairton Connecting Route

It’s tough to find an off-road route for a trail along the south side of the Monongahela River near McKeesport. Steel Valley Trail has done the next-best thing between McKeesport and Clairton, by designating an on-street route that avoids as much traffic as possible. The 4.25-mile route is generally adequately marked with signs between The Lysle Blvd Bridge and the trail head of the Montour trail in Clairton.

Begin at the McKees Point Park and Marina. Go under the Lysle Blvd bridge (the big blue bridge at the west end of the marina), turn right into the parking lot next to the bridge ramp (the ramp itself is one-way against you), and climb to get on the western (downstream) sidewalk of that bridge. An old brass plaque on this bridge calls it the Jerome St Bridge, but it’s Lysle Blvd that crosses the bridge. After crossing the bridge, follow signs down the ramp and along Rebecca St to turn left on Atlantic St. Following signs, turn left on Roanoke then right on Pacific to the sidewalk of Ramp 2. Climb the ramp and turn right on 5th Av. As you approach the Mansfield Bridge, take the right fork to go under the bridge and rejoin the main drag, now called Monongahela Av.

McKeesport-Glassport-Clairton Connection

Location Along Monongahela River in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County

Trailheads McKeesport, Clairton

Length, Surface 4.6 miles, shared road

Character Shared roadway

Usage restrictions None

Amenities Rest rooms, water, restaurant, groceries, fishing

Driving time from Pittsburgh 30 minutes

Continue thru Glassport on Monongahela Av, a busy street. Just before the stadium, the road bends left and then right. Follow it. As you approach the ramp up to the Clairton-Glassport Bridge, move from the street to the sidewalk. At the top of the ramp use the cross walk and light to cross the street to the far side of the bridge and the bridge idewalk. At the Clairton end of the bridge, cross the street and turn left on the road. It is a busy half-mile road from the bridge to the Clairton trailhead of the Montour Trail near the mouth of Peters Ck.

The route from Clairton to McKeesport follows the same route, except that it uses the Monongahela Av sidewalk near the Mansfield Bridge instead of going under the bridge, and as it approaches the Lysle Av bridge it stays on Pacific St instead of going over to Atlantic in order to be consistent with one-way traffic flow. The route is fairly well-marked, so use common sense and follow the signs.

Extensions of the ride

The principal use of this on-road connection is to connect the Yough River Trail at McKees Point Park to the Montour Trail at Clairton.

Development plans

The council is looking for better routes that do not involve as much road riding, but there are just not many alternatives available.

Access points

Vicinity: Directions begin on PA837, the Green Belt, on the south side of the Monongahela River at the end of the Glenwood Bridge southeast of downtown Pittsburgh.

McKees Point: Go southeast on PA837. In Duquesne, turn left to cross the McKeesport-Duquesne Bridge. Turn right on PA148 (Lysle Blvd) and continue to McKees Point Park.

Clairton: Go southeast on PA837 and continue to follow it as it bends south­westward and goes through Dravosburg and Coal Valley and into Clairton. The trailhead, shared with the Montour Trail, is 0.5 mile south of the Glassport-Clairton Bridge and 250 yards north of Peters Creek.

Amenities

Rest rooms, water: Seasonal chemical toilet in McKee Point Park

Bike shop, rental: A Glassport resident is trying to start a bike shop in his garage.

Restaurant, groceries: Restaurants within a few blocks of the marked route in East McKeesport, Glassport, and Clairton. Grocery store across from stadium in Glassport Convenience stores near McKees Point and at the Clairton end of the Glassport-Clairton Bridge

Camping, simple lodging: None.

Swimming, fishing: The available water is the Monongahela River and the mouth of the Youghiogheny River. People fish in these waters, but we wouldn’t want to swim there.

Winter sports: None.

Wheelchair access: This part of the trail is mostly on roads.

Maps, guides, other references

USGS Topographic Maps: McKeesport, Glassport.

Version

Text version of 25 Apr 2015 based on personal observation while bicycling. Conditions may have changed; you are responsible for your own safety. Oldest segment check 9/2021.