Consider an Urban Adventure: Try Biking Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Heritage Trail

Outdoor Opportunities By COL(Ret.) Grey D. Berrier II

Do you remember the scene from Jim Carrey’s movie, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, where referring to the Who’s down in Whoville he exclaims “hate, hate, hate … hate, hate, hate … double hate … loathe entirely!” I don’t know what it says about my personality, but there is something that I “loathe entirely” and that’s fighting rush hour traffic and sitting still in gridlock. When I first returned to full-time employment in the PA Army National Guard in Dec. 1989, I was initially assigned to Hunt Armory between Shadyside and East Liberty on Pittsburgh’s East Side. I quickly learned my way around the city and soon developed my philosophy for driving around Pittsburgh that prevails to this day. I find you can get anywhere in Pittsburgh with very little traffic, if you arrive at your destination before 7 AM. This often means getting out of bed at 4:30 AM and leaving the house before 5:30 AM, but I’d rather do that and arrive early at my destination, rather than deal with “beep-and-creep” on Pittsburgh’s roads between 7 and 9 AM. Numerous times over the years, I’ve been forced to make my way through Pittsburgh rush hour traffic when I’ve just had to deal with the mayhem. On some occasions, it’s taken over 20-minutes to travel one mile from I-279 up on the North Shore by PNC Park out to the Parkway West as the slow crawl initially requires you to merge onto the Fort Duquesne Bridge, then squeeze onto the Fort Pitt Bridge, and fi nally work your way through the Fort Pitt Tunnel. It was during one of those moments, just sitting there in stationary traffic on the Fort Duquesne Bridge, that I watched numerous individuals freely pass by on their bicycles on the adjacent biking/walking lane from the North Shore to Point State Park. I soon realized you can probably get around downtown Pittsburgh quicker by bicycle during rush hour than you can by motor vehicle. Back on Saturday, August 31, 2019, I loaded my road bike into the truck and drove down to the same parking area under the I-579/Veterans Bridge, where we parked to go kayaking. There, I started my exploration of Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Heritage Trail, a series of 20+ miles of paved walking/biking trails that parallel the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers. I initially pedaled up along the Allegheny River on the paved trail towards Sharpsburg. Shortly after the 40th Street Bridge by Millvale, the trail was completely blocked by a fallen tree and I was forced to turn around. Heading back downriver, I passed hundreds of other walkers, runners, and bicyclists as I made my way past PNC Park, Heinz Field, the Carnegie Science Center, and the Rivers Casino, before turning around by the old Western Penitentiary. Pedaling back up along the Ohio River, I stopped by Heinz Field to take some photos and text my youngest daughter. Pitt fans were tailgating before their football game with Virginia and that included more than two-dozen boats tied off along the North Shore. My daughter agreed to meet me at the Pretzel Shop along East Carson Street by the Birmingham Bridge. The bike ride across the Fort Duquesne Bridge, around the Point, under the Fort Pitt Bridge, past the Mon Wharf, out the Eliza Furnace Trail past the Allegheny County Jail, and over the Hot Metal Bridge to the South Side took me less than 25-minutes before I was able to meet up with Faith for a well-deserved pretzel. Afterwards, I stayed off Carson Street, following the bike trail along the Monongahela River, before crossing over the Smithfield Street Bridge by Station Square. I paused back by the fountain at the Point for some photos, before pedaling back to my starting point under the I-579/ Veterans Bridge. It was a great way on an absolutely beautiful day to end the month of August with a 24-mile bike ride around Pittsburgh in a little over 2-hours. If you’d like to experience Pittsburgh for yourself in a manner other than sitting still in heavy traffic, why not take a pleasant bike ride on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail sometime and you’ll soon realize Pittsburgh has a lot to offer from the seat on your bicycle! God Bless, Be Safe, and Great Outdoors! ©WBB 2019

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