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.
trail can logically be divided into three sections miles:
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
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.
Steel Valley Trail Council
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 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 >>
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.
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.
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.
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.
USGS Topographic Maps: Pittsburgh East, Braddock, McKeesport
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.
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.