Trip Report, McKeesport to Pittsburgh

Roy Weil

Fall 2001

The current end of the Great Allegheny Passage from Washington DC to Pittsburgh PA is at McKeesport about 15 miles from the ultimate terminus at Point State Park in Pittsburgh. What follows is a trip report covering those last few miles. Note: This is not a recommended route.  I personally have a extremely strong aversion to traffic.  This route involves crossing active railroad tracks and trespassing on railroad property.  Not something that I would recommend.  The trail surface at times is unfinished two track beaten down by pickup trucks.  Easily passable by hybrid tires, but not something to ride on with road slicks.  There is a route that does not involve tracks or trespassing, but it has other hazards.

Eastbound: Pittsburgh to McKeesport

to westbound directions

These instructions begin starting at the fountain in Point State Park where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers joins to from the Ohio river.  This is a park and to get to this point you will need to follow the last section of the westbound instructions.

0.0 After anointing your wheel with fountain water head away from the river junction towards the park exit.  Either walk your bike up the center grassland, or ride along either river promenade to just before the highway overpass and turn towards the center of the park.  Note: it is illegal to ride anywhere in the park except along the river promenade edges.  There are generally police around to tell you this.
0.1 Pass under the highway and turn left on the sidewalk/bicycle path. You may get on your bike and start to ride when you see the bicycles painted on the sidewalk. Do not turn right after the underpass as this is not bicycle path and therefore it is illegal to ride on the right hand section. There are generally police around to tell you this.
0.1 At the end of this path turn right to cross in front of the Hilton Hotel
0.2 Go to the third signal and turn left onto the  Blvd of the Allies. 
  This is a four lane road with plenty of stop lights. Traffic during rush hour can be heavy but at other times it is fairly light. Going this direction there are no good alternatives.   The one way streets are against you.  You can always walk the 7 blocks along the sidewalk.  Note: it is illegal to ride on the sidewalks in the central business district.
0.4 Turn right onto Grant street.  Do not make the sharp right onto the parkway ramp going up.
0.4 Go one block and turn left at First St and immediately right onto the sidewalk alongside the PNC Firstside building.  This is a quick turn across two lanes of traffic.  I often get off the bike and act like a pedestrian to cross Grant street. Go around the right side of the PNC building to join the Eliza Furnace trail (aka Jail Trail). Note the interesting fountains along the left side. We follow this trail for only a short distance before crossing over the river to another trail.  
0.5 After passing the PNC building stop in and say hi to Patty or Darcel at the bike rental station.  Continue on past the parking garage and the Jail.  Immediately after passing the jail turn left into the parking lot. 
  Cross the parking lot and take the ramp up to 2nd Avenue.
0.6 Go 100 yards and turn right across the Tenth Street Bridge.  
  This is another place where you might want to walk along the sidewalk rather than tough it out with the traffic.  Remember it is illegal to ride on the sidewalks in the central business district.
0.7 After coming off the bridge take the first right, onto Bingham Street. 
  Go one block. Take the first right, onto 9th Street towards the river. 
0.7 Go to the end of Ninth street, cross the tracks, and get on the South Shore trail.  Follow this trail to 18th street, where it joins the road through River Front Park.  Continue straight on this road to where the trail picks up again under the Birmingham Bridge. Continue down the trail.
As you approach the Glenwood bridge you will want to go essentially straight, along side the railroad tracks.
After passing under the Glenwood Bridge take a right hand turn and pass under the highway bridge. Continue for a long bock. 
Take a right hand turn onto the short street (50 feet) that has the signal on it.
Go to the signal.  Here there be traffic and confusing lanes. You may want to walk the next quarter mile.  You are trying cross the river. The bridge has very nice sidewalks, but getting there is a problem.  What I do is to go straight at the signal and cross the main road. I then turn right up the down ramp on the far side (against traffic) I walk up the ramp to the sidewalk and then hop back on the bike.
At the end of the bridge you will want to do a U-turn to the left down the street that go alongside the bridge.
Follow this road until it ends under the bridge.
Cross the railroad tracks. These are active tracks, and there is a railroad yard just down the way.  Be careful not to get run over by a train or arrested for trespassing on railroad property. Friends have be hassled by the railroad detectives, but I have not had the pleasure.
Continue down the road alongside the railroad tracks for about 200 yards, at which point you will discover the end of the Duck Hollow Trail.  Hop on the trail for a couple of miles of smooth saling.
When the trail ends at the bridge dock in Duck Hollow, continue out the end of the dock and cross the open grate bridge that crosses the tributary. 
At the end of the bridge there will be three ways to go.  Choose the middle route that takes you up to the railroad tracks.
Follow the road along side the railroad tracks for several miles.  The dirt road will  eventually turn into a paved road with old trolley tacks. Just keep going.
As you approach the next bridge that crosses the river you will have to zig and zag on back roads to keep going.
 
 
 
 
 
<< more instructions to follow >>

Westbound: McKeesport to Pittsburgh 

to eastbound directions

These instructions begin starting at the McKeesport Marina where the Great Allegheny Passage currently ends.

300.0 Take the short road bridge across the creek. Bear right at the next few forks and pass under the 885 highway bridge. 
The area then opens up into a railroad yard. Continue along between the tracks on your left and the cliff edge on your right.  Be careful not to be arrested for trespassing on railroad property. 
You will cross over a set of live railroad tracks that goes out onto a trestle on your right.  Be careful not to get run over by a train. 
You will then be forced to cross a set of unused railroad tracks.  Cross them and turn right. Do not head uphill on the road, follow this road with the tracks on the right until road bends left and is about to passes under two three foot diameter pipes.  
Do not pass under the pipes, instead cross back over the tracks and onto a dirt road with a cliff face on the left and cliff edge on the right.
About 100 yards further the road is washed out. Continue on across the ditch
This road passes the sewer plant for Kennywood Amusement Park and you can see the bottom dips of two of the roller coasters.  The Thunderbolt and the Revenge of the Phantom.
About 100 yards before an old industrial building there is a road that cuts back to the right and drops down to the railroad tracks about 30 feet below.  Take this road.
Cross over all but the last two of the of the active railroad tracks and turn left between the live railroad tracks for about 200 yards.  Be careful not to get run over by a train or arrested for trespassing on railroad property. 
When you can cross over the last two tacks and get onto the limestone graded road alongside the railroad tracks.  Continue down this road to its end.
This road ends at the main road into The Waterfront Shopping District.  I cross the road and turn left onto the sidewalk.  There is no pedestrian traffic and the road although wide has high speed traffic on it. 
Just pass the housing development take the limestone trail that goes right towards the river.  When you get to the river turn left and continue down the trail.
When the trail ends at the pedestrian bridge, turn right onto the main highway.  Note: On the far side of the pedestrian bridge is a restroom.
When the high ends at a tee intersection, turn right towards Sandcastle Water Park. Travel along the road between Sandcastle Water Park and the railroad.  If it is late fall or winter the road past Sandcastle will be closed and you will need to take the railroad road alongside the railroad tracks for a tenth of a mile.  Use caution as there is loose ballast in this section.  A place for a short walk
Just before the Glenwood bridge you will have to cross the live railroad tracks.  Cross the tracks an continue in the direction that you have been going alongside the railroad tracks. 
Just past the Birmingham bridge the trail joins the road in River Front Park. Continue straight on this road to just before it crosses the railroad tracks.  Turn off the road on the right to pick up the trail again.
When the trail ends at ninth street, cross the tracks and continue straight for one block to Bingham Street.
Turn left onto Bingham Street and go one block to Tenth Street.
Turn left onto Tenth Street and cross the Tenth Street Bridge. This is a place where you might want to walk along the sidewalk rather than tough it out with the traffic.  It is illegal to ride on the sidewalks in the central business district.
At the end of the bridge turn right onto Second Avenue. 
Go one block to the parking lot entrance and turn right into the parking lot.
Continue across the parking lot towards the river to the trail.  Turn right.  You are now on the Eliza Furnace Trail (aka Jail Trail)
Continue along the trail to its end, alongside the PNC Firstside building. 
From here I always walk the next block, it involves two left turns across heavy traffic.  Walk across Grant street.  Turn right on the sidewalk.  At the Blvd of Allies (one block) turn left, cross the ramp to Monroeville, and then turn left onto First Street.  Get back on the bike and ride down first street.
When first street ends at Stanwix Street take a right onto Stanwix
Go one block and take a left onto the Blvd of Allies. This is a four lane road with plenty of stop lights. Traffic during rush hour can be heavy but at other times it is fairly light.  You can always walk the 1 block along the sidewalk.  Note: it is illegal to ride on the sidewalks in the central business district.
Go one long block and turn right onto Commonwealth Avenue. 
Go past the Hilton Hotel on your right and take a left into the Point State Park.  Do not take the first left into the park as this is not an official bicycle path.  It is illegal to ride anywhere in the park except designated paths. There are generally police around to tell you this.
Pass under the highway and get off your bicycle.  Either walk your bike up the center grassland, walk it to the right all the way to the river. and then ride along the river promenade. Note: it is illegal to ride anywhere in the park except along the river promenade edges.  There are generally police around to tell you this.
You have reached the fountain which is the designated end of the Great Allegheny Passage.  Anoint your wheel with fountain water and declare victory.

 


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