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.

The trail can logically be divided into three sections miles:
      Duck Hollow Trail                         1.5 mi      N of Monongahela R, S of Frick Pk
      Glenwood Bridge to McKeesport   <<??>> mi                             S of Monongahela R
      McKeesport –Glassport –Clairton  4.6 mi      E of Monongahela R, S of McKeesport

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

Phone was (412) 464-4418, but that might be Rivers of Steel

Maps, guides, other references

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

 

[[photo TBD]]

 

 

INSERT NEW MAP OF STEEL VALLEY TRAIL

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 Marcegaglia driveway. 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                                                   0.6 miles sidewalk,1.1 miles, packed crushed stone,

                                                                       0.5 miles paved bike lane, << wrong milage>> 6.0 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 a connection to Carrie Furnaces, across the rivers, on the Hot Metal Bridge upstream from the Waterfront.  Carrie Furnaces will be designated as a historic site.

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

Version

Text version of 28 Apr 2015 on personal observation while bicycling Glenwood Bridge to Clairton (Montour Trailhead) Apr 2015. Conditions may have changed; you are responsible for your own safety. Oldest segment check 4/2016.

 

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 28 Apr 2015 on personal observation while bicycling Glenwood Bridge to Clairton (Montour Trailhead) Apr 2016. Conditions may have changed; you are responsible for your own safety. Oldest segment check 4/2016.

 

Upper Monongahela (Duck Hollow) Trail 

This riverside trail runs in splendid isolation from the fishing area near the small village of Duck Hollow to the Glenwood Bridge. The trail is developed on a "paper street" that has long been owned by the City of Pittsburgh but has never developed before.

The Duck Hollow fishing area is at a former barge dock adjacent to trailhead parking. A mile down the trail you'll pass the remains of a conveyer loading system. A quarter-mile beyond those remains you'll go under a railroad bridge, and a quarter-mile beyond that the trail dead ends, with no road access, just before the Glenwood Bridge.

In the trail's 1.5 miles you get views across the river to the gantry crane at the Waterfront and Sandcastle Waterpark.

Duck Hollow Trail

Location                                                  Along Monongahela River in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County

Trailheads                                                                                                                                 Duck Hollow

Length, Surface                                                                                                               1.5 miles, asphalt

Character                                                                                                 Little-used, wooded, shady, flat

Usage restrictions                                                 No motorized vehicles; no snowmobiles; no horses

Amenities                                                                                                                                              Fishing

Driving time from Pittsburgh                                                                                                  15 minutes

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.

Duck Hollow: Go southeast on PA837 from the Glenwood Bridge. In Homestead, turn left onto the Homestead High Level Bridge. After crossing the bridge, take the first right, on Old Browns Hill Rd 0.1 mile north of the bridge. Follow Old Browns Hill Rd for 0.4 mi. When you go under the RR bridge, turn right and park.

Amenities

Rest rooms, water: None.

Bike shop, rental: Many bike shops in the area, but none adjacent to the trail.

Restaurant, groceries: On Brown's Hill Rd, near the road down to the trailhead.

Camping, simple lodging: None.

Swimming, fishing: The trailhead is a popular fishing spot. The water is unappealing for swimming.

Winter sports: XC skiing. No snowmobiles.

Wheelchair access: Generally good.

Maps, guides, other references

USGS Topographic Maps: Pittsburgh East.

Yvonne Merrill, AE Richardson, and Mary Shaw, Great Little Walks: A guide to walks on the Great Allegheny Passage and connecting trails in the Pittsburgh Area identifies some particularly nice walks on the trail system. Great Allegheny Press, 2003.

Version

Text version of 5/20/2016 based on personal observation while bicycling Duck Hollow Trail 5/2015. Conditions may have changed; you are responsible for your own safety. Oldest segment check 5/2015.

 

 

 

Editors' notes

Homestead site from Pinkerton landing above Homestead down to Sandcastle will be built as part of the new development there. Park Corp owns Pinkerton landing upstream to Whittaker Metal at upstream end of Ranking Br (12 acres); this part isn't tied up yet. Behind Kennywood for 1 mile on Union RR grade is under control.

County will purchase Carrie Furnace, now owned by Park Corp. Hot metal bridge will be donated, but not until the ramps at both ends are also available. Visitor Center on south side will connect with hot metal bridge to Carrie Furnace. The problem with getting from Rankin to Duck Hollow is that no one knows who owns Braddock Field Plank Rd – the connection parallel to the RR past Carrie Furnace.

Extension of 7.5 miles under consideration: loop from Glenwood Bridge along north shore of Mon to site of Carrie Furnace complex and across Hot Metal Bridge to site of former USS Homestead works. Also perhaps continuation along north shore through Braddock to McKeesport as alternate route. [MYTC3/2]

Per Larry R early 1999: Montour to McKeesport for June RTC conf. Conbination of I (off-road) and III (shared road, recognizable lane). County will purchase Carrie Furnace, Hot metal bridge will be donated. There will be a historical exhibit at Pinkerton landing with access to Carrie furnace via hot metal bridge. Carrie Furnace to Duck Hollow depends on figuring out who owns Braddock Field Plank Rd – the road east from Duck Hollow. McKeesport-Duquesne Br will be ramped to steel sites being developed by RIDC. A Columbus developer will build Homestead up to Pinkerton Landing (upstream to the blue buildings) and downstream to Sandcastle.

McKeesport-Duquesne Br will be ramped to steel sites being developed by RIDC.