Where to Ride: The Best Bike Trails in Pittsburgh
By now, you may know that Pittsburgh is two-wheel friendly. And our city is becoming more and more bike-able by the day.
Let’s look at the evidence: hip bicycle shops in Lawrenceville, South Side, and Shadyside, Healthy Ride PGH public bike sharing system and designated downtown bike lanes, even the start of the famous Great Allegheny Passage is here, allowing you to bike to Maryland and beyond!
Bicycling acts as transportation to some, exercise to others, and fun for all. And Pittsburgh is crisscrossed with bike trails galore, both urban and scenic. So grab your bike, strip off the training wheels, and hit the trail!
Three Rivers Heritage Trail
Prepare to get lost in over 24 miles of Pittsburgh history. Sounds like a dream. The Three Rivers Heritage Trail is a combination of the best biking trails throughout the city, connecting neighborhoods, sights, sounds, and cultures. North Shore Trail, Lawrenceville Trail, Millvale Trail, Eliza Furnace Trail, South Side Trail – they’re all part of this awesome network of paved wonderland, well-maintained by some hometown organizations. Take the whole fam and say hello to PNC Park, the Point, and Kennywood for us!
Eliza Furnace Trail
Eliza Furnace Trail is the oldest leg of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. It’s also quite possibly the most unique. So unique, that you’ll have to fight from staring at the lore of the land to keep your eyes in front of your handlebars. It’s got old signs from the steel days, it winds right in between Second Avenue and Parkway East, and it passes right under the Allegheny County Jail – giving it it’s nickname “The Jail Trail”. You can even bike right from downtown on your lunch break!
South Side Riverfront Trail
The South Side Riverfront Trail is beautiful in the summer. A lot of people know this, so be prepared to share the riverside trail through the South Side with fellow bikers, joggers, rollerbladers, and dog-walkers. Starting at 9th Street Station Square and ending 5 miles later at Riverfront Park, 18th Street South Side, you can lounge on the lawn or finish with a beverage at Over the Bar on Carson Street!
South Side to Steel Valley
If you get caught up with the wind in your hair and a smile on your face while cruising along the South Side Riverfront Trail, you may not realize that you’re in the heart of steel country — Steel Valley. It’s got the same Pittsburgh steel roots and shadows the railroad on the Monongahela River. Plus, it’s the start of the Great Allegheny Passage (but we’ll get to that). And while this trail passes right by Sandcastle and Kennywood, the real fun is being had on your bicycle. This well-maintained and scenic trail is an adventure waiting to happen. Fitt tip: You may see the Pittsburgh-famous bald eagles.
Great Allegheny Passage
Are you ready for the big adventure? Well pack your saddlebags with camping gear and Clif Bars and embark on the Great Allegheny Passage (aka Gap Trail). You’re able to bike from the Point, connect to the Eliza Furnace or South Side Riverfront Trails, and shoot out the aforementioned Steel Valley portion. From there, you’re on a carless and woodsy 150-mile trek to Cumberland, MD. The trail is an epic climb and crosses the Eastern Continental Divide. It’s the ultimate exercise/outdoorsy combo and a must for any bicycle enthusiast!
Riverview Park in the Perry North neighborhood is like Frick Park in the sense that it’s got killer mountain bike trails – about 8 miles of ’em. They’ve also got a designated bike loop around the paved areas of the park. People praise Riverview for its quick hills, technical riding areas, and low-traffic. Apparently not many people know about the thrilling terrain just above the North Shore. Well…you do now.
The Montour Trail is another spot built on history. Intended as a railroad to move coal from mines in Mifflin and Library to the hotbed of the steel activity in Pittsburgh, the road has been repurposed to become one of the best biking and hiking trails in the region. It’s a rural 46-mile trail full of dark tunnels and wooden bridges, perfect for both kids and adults. It spans from Coraopolis to Clairton, featuring the trail-side coffee and ice cream shops of Arrowhead Trail in Peters Township.
What about a trip up North? Head up to the Great Lakes via the Erie-to-Pittsburgh Trail. The ETP connects the Perry Monument at Presque Isle Park in Erie to the Point of Pittsburgh winding through Western PA. While a few large gaps remain in the trail, plans are in place to create a continuous 270-mile trail. In the meantime, be careful sharing the road with motorists.
If you’re a Pittsburgher and haven’t been to Frick Park, you’re doing it wrong. The 644 acres of this park are a stone’s throw from downtown Pittsburgh and are a haven for the off-road adventurist. Frick Park is loaded with mountain biking loops and trails of various difficulties. You can bike all over the park, and then link up with the Braddock Trail or Nine Mile Run. It has been said that you can bike for more than half an hour without running into the same patch of trail!
Need a refreshing bike ride? Why not try the 29-mile stretch of stream and wilderness of the Panhandle Trail that starts in Carnegie and ends near Weirton, West Virginia. If you’re making a day of it, picnic tables and public bathrooms are available at McDonald, PA, at the intersection of the Montour Trail. Panhandle really is special though. It’s a relatively flat road is made of crushed limestone, taken from existing limestone deposits that can be seen from the trail. This clean, green path is just the escape you need from the concrete jungle.
North Park is already the place for picnics, jungle gyms, paddleboarding, and a pool. But it’s also a playground for every type of biking! Occupy one of the bicycle lanes looping 5 miles around North Park Lake. Or if you’re a bit more extreme, try out one of their mountain bike trails. Even more extreme? Visit North Park Freeride Area, complete with a skills park for people looking for expert drops, jump lines, and lines of “skinnies”.