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Old 06-04-11, 03:06 PM   #1
spinnaker
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Great news for the Great Allegheny Passage in Pittsburgh!

Great news for the Great Allegheny Passage in Pittsburgh!

Today I guided yet another person through the city and to the start of the GAP. A couple forum members here are aware of the dreaded Route 837 which leads to Mckeesport and the start of the GAP.

I have a few tricks up my sleeve to avoid much of the busy section but other than traveling twice the distance down the Montour Trail and avoiding all of 837, there was never a good way to avoid the last 5 or so miles of Route 837.

Well that is now history! The trail from Homestead to Mckeesport is now fully opened!

The full trail opened unofficially just 2 days ago. I was honored to be one of the first "civilians" to ride this wonderful trail. The official opening of this section is June 17th. They still have some fencing to put up so they have kept things quiet until this occurs. If you happen to stumble on it till then then they don't mind that you ride it. So just keep the news hush, hush till then.

The trail is beautiful! They have done a fantastic job! It is all asphalt all the way from Homestead to Mckeesport. Much of the trail is up and away from the rail lines that share this route.

There are several awesome bridges that cross the rail line when needed.

This is fantastic news for the GAP and Pittsburgh!
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Old 06-04-11, 03:44 PM   #2
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In planning a ride from Cumberland MD my last stop was going to be Boston, Does this mean that I could bike all the way to Pittsburgh and catch the train back to Cumberland?
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Old 06-04-11, 04:51 PM   #3
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In planning a ride from Cumberland MD my last stop was going to be Boston, Does this mean that I could bike all the way to Pittsburgh and catch the train back to Cumberland?
Pretty much. For you the trial would end at Sandcastle in Homestead.

Here is what you do:

1. Leave Boston on the trail. The trail will go up and over a big hill.

2. At the bottom of the hill, you will see a Jersey Barrier. This is River Road. Stay on River Road and ignore signs for the GAP. The trail in Mckeesport is full of glass and pretty much worthless.

3. River road will pass under one bridge (part of the GAP) pass under that bridge then pass under a second bridge. River Road will turn to the left and up a hill. At the top of the hill, make a U-Turn and cross the 5th Ave Bridge (the bridge you just passed under) into Mckeesport.

4. Look for a street on the left (sorry unsure of the street name) I think it is Walnut St. on your left, Route 148 will be on your right. Make a left onto Walnut St. Cross the railroad tracks and then go through a large gate. It is not well marked but you will see the path off to the left. Look for the bicycle symbols on the pavement.

5. Follow the trail to the Waterfront. It is an area full of restaurants and shops. There is a bike path off to the right that runs next to the river but it is really not needed unless you want a view of the river. The traffic on this street can be heavy at times but it is very wide and the traffic is moving slow.

6. Somewhere around where you see the Red Robin, the road will start turning to the left. Look for several large smoke stacks (an old coke battery I think). Make a right past the smoke stacks.

7. You will see signs for Sandcastle Water Park. Eventually you will see pay booths for parking. Ignore the booths and ride on through. While not officially open, Sandcastle is permitting bike traffic through the park.

8. Exit Sandcastle and the road will turn to the left. Cross the train tracks and make a left.

9. Make a right and proceed up the street. Again sorry I do not know the name but I should be through there next week and will try and remember to get the names.

10. Look off to your right for signs for 837 and the Glenwood Bridge. This will be the one and only dicey section of your trip. Be careful, it is a busy and confusing intersection.

11. Cross the Glenwood Bridge into Hazelwood. This is Route 885. Follow 885 to 2nd Ave.

12. Make a right onto 2nd Ave.

13. You may see a bike path to your right but ignore it for now. There is a bridge that has been removed and you will want to pass that section on 2nd Ave.

14. Cross under the bicycle Hot Metal Bridge and start looking on your right for an entrance to the Eliza Furnace Trail (you will see a wooden ramp).

15. Make a left on to the trail and follow it to the end onto Grant Street. Make a right onto Grant and the Amtrak Station will be at the other end.

Let me know when you are coming through and I could meet you somewhere to guide you, assuming I have the day off.

On the other side of the Hot Metal Bridge is an REI so you might want to make a detour.

If you want to spend your last night in Boston, I highly recommend the Yough Shore Inn / Manor. Lynn is one of the nicest people you will meet on the GAP and her B&B is certainly the most unique on the GAP and pretty much anywhere for that matter. She has each room decorated in a theme. She has a Vegas Room, a Hawaii Room and a Gold Mine Room to name just a few. The whole place is truly a work of art and has to be seen to be really appreciated.

You can camp in her back yard for only $20 and includes showers, bathroom, breakfast and use of the common area.

Let me know if you want to stay there and I'll let her know you are coming.
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Old 06-04-11, 04:54 PM   #4
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Just as additional information. The whole trail from the city to Mckeesport should be ready in November of 2011. It is actually all complete except for about 2,000 feet. This section will be the most expensive and difficult section to complete. I heard it would cost $3M just for this small section. Apparently there is an issue with rail lines and a hillside that will need to be shored up.
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Old 06-04-11, 05:27 PM   #5
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Thanks for the info
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Old 06-04-11, 08:16 PM   #6
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Great news! I am looking forward to trying it out. We tried this two years ago and it was a nightmare after ridding all of the way from DC.

Last edited by dwmckee; 06-04-11 at 08:18 PM. Reason: Added info
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Old 06-05-11, 04:14 PM   #7
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At the Yough Shore Inn I stayed in the Safari Room. It was a jungle in there

One of the nicest (although I haven't met any unfriendly innkeepers) and most unique places along the trail.

Judy
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Old 06-13-11, 06:30 PM   #8
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I have posted the new bike trail on Map My Ride here.

Please let me know if there are any issues accessing the link.

I can post one my "low stress" route from the city, if there is any interest.

I plan to post some pics of the trail I snapped today, later this week.
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Old 06-14-11, 09:48 AM   #9
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I saw the RTC blog post about that today and was really excited. Having family in wetsern PA I am definitely interested in riding then GAP sometime, and the completion of the trail all the way to Pittsburgh is excellent news! I was actually going to post the news myself, but you beat me to it, spinnaker.
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Old 06-14-11, 03:01 PM   #10
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I have posted the new bike trail on Map My Ride here.

Please let me know if there are any issues accessing the link.

I can post one my "low stress" route from the city, if there is any interest.

I plan to post some pics of the trail I snapped today, later this week.
I'm a registered MmR user but the link requires me to add you as a friend. Is that what you want ?.

Steve B.
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Old 06-14-11, 05:14 PM   #11
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I'm a registered MmR user but the link requires me to add you as a friend. Is that what you want ?.

Steve B.
You should not need to add me as a friend. That is pretty lame if that is the case. I'll check it out to see if there are any settings to prevent that.
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Old 06-14-11, 05:32 PM   #12
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I made the route public access so hopefully you don't need to be my friend now.
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Old 06-15-11, 06:34 AM   #13
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Just as additional information. The whole trail from the city to Mckeesport should be ready in November of 2011.
Excellent! This locks in my plans for a 2012 trip. Does any know where exactly the Pittsburgh trail head will be? I see that after the Hot Metal bridge their are a number of trail options.
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Old 06-15-11, 11:01 AM   #14
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I made the route public access so hopefully you don't need to be my friend now.
Spinnaker - I read your written directions and tried to follow it on the map that you posted. Either I'm not reading it correctly or is this the path you are recommending:

http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=4580198 (This is a trail from Bston through McKeesport to the far side of the Mon River)

Let me know - I'm riding this trail in early July! Thanks for your experienced recommendations.
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Old 06-15-11, 05:46 PM   #15
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Excellent! This locks in my plans for a 2012 trip. Does any know where exactly the Pittsburgh trail head will be? I see that after the Hot Metal bridge their are a number of trail options.
In 2012 you will be able to go straight through to Sandcastle.

The start is where ever you start. If you are coming in by train then you would use the Eliza Furnace Trail then over the Hotmetal Bridge (after Nov 2011) before Nov 2011 it would be best to got through Hazelwood as I described above.
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Old 06-15-11, 05:52 PM   #16
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Spinnaker - I read your written directions and tried to follow it on the map that you posted. Either I'm not reading it correctly or is this the path you are recommending:

http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=4580198 (This is a trail from Bston through McKeesport to the far side of the Mon River)

Let me know - I'm riding this trail in early July! Thanks for your experienced recommendations.
If you mean my directions in #3 then they are correct. They are directions from Boston to Pittsburgh.

The path I posted just shows the new part of the bike trail.

The path you posted is in the first part of my directions. As an alternate, you could stay on Walnut St and either cross the 15th Bridge (the official GAP trail) or take the trail under the 15th St. Bridge to Versailes and cross the Boston Bridge. As of this writing the path is now paved and being kept glass free. A big change from a few years ago when it was crushed limestone and glass.

I would not take Walnut at night. You should avoid Mckeeport at night altogether but would be better off with the path Altair posted if you got stuck in the area at night.



If anyone needs any kind of help on this end just let me know. Shuttle, place to stay, tour guide whatever. Weekends are always best and the odd Friday I have off.

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Old 06-15-11, 05:54 PM   #17
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I made the route public access so hopefully you don't need to be my friend now.
Yup works now

And a thanks
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Old 06-16-11, 06:52 AM   #18
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In 2012 you will be able to go straight through to Sandcastle.

The start is where ever you start. If you are coming in by train then you would use the Eliza Furnace Trail then over the Hotmetal Bridge (after Nov 2011).
We would need overnight parking to leave a car for the trip, I imagine that the train station has overnight/long term parking options. Do you know if there are better options than the train station?
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Old 06-16-11, 07:42 AM   #19
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A couple forum members here are aware of the dreaded Route 837 which leads to Mckeesport and the start of the GAP.
Raises hand....

But seriously, 837 wasn't that bad. Or it wouldn't have been if my trailer hadn't started rocking my bike as I went down the hill.
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Old 06-16-11, 08:12 AM   #20
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We would need overnight parking to leave a car for the trip, I imagine that the train station has overnight/long term parking options. Do you know if there are better options than the train station?
I don't think that there is long term parking (days) at Pittsburgh's Amtrak train station. It's located downtown and really is sort of an afterthought, compared to the great rail stations of the past. Can anyone else comment on the availability of long term parking near Amtrak in Pittsburgh?

You might have better luck at one of the hotels along the trail in the City. You might want to check the Springhill Suites near the Southside Works. The hotel is right on the trail near the Hot Metal Bridge. If you stay the night, they might consider allowing add'l parking time. Phone number is 412-488-8003.
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Old 06-16-11, 04:26 PM   #21
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We would need overnight parking to leave a car for the trip, I imagine that the train station has overnight/long term parking options. Do you know if there are better options than the train station?
You'll pay for it. It is downtown parking. Probably $10-$14 a day. You can park here if you want. Or you can park at the Yough Shore Inn. I think if you stay there, it is either free or some minimal amount.

Let me know if you want to do one of the two options.
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Old 06-16-11, 04:28 PM   #22
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Raises hand....

But seriously, 837 wasn't that bad. Or it wouldn't have been if my trailer hadn't started rocking my bike as I went down the hill.
I seem to remember a mutual acquaintance freaking out at Duquesne and a detour through "the hood".
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Old 06-16-11, 05:57 PM   #23
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Here are some pics of the new trail.

Look for this building on the Mckeesport end. The start of the trail is pretty much behind the building and across the tracks. The photo is looking down the street to the start of the trail.



Look for these signs




Look for this to the left


This is the trail bridge that goes over to Duquesne. It is the bridge in the foreground. The other bridge is a automobile bridge.







The new bridges that cross the tracks back and forth.







This is what the start of the trail looks like on the Homestead end. Notice the Best Buy and Lowes sign.

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Last edited by spinnaker; 06-16-11 at 06:09 PM.
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Old 09-24-11, 10:55 AM   #24
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Is it possible to somehow walk along the section that is under construction or along the tracks? I'm hoping to start off next week from Pittsburgh (Sept 26), but I suppose I can get a ride to Homestead.
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Old 09-24-11, 11:40 AM   #25
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Is it possible to somehow walk along the section that is under construction or along the tracks? I'm hoping to start off next week from Pittsburgh (Sept 26), but I suppose I can get a ride to Homestead.
No. Do not enter this area of the trial till it is opened. It is still considered private property and would be considered trespassing. If there are too many infractions in this area, it could spoil all of the hard work to secure the right of way.

There is zero reason to get a ride. The road (Route 837) is not all that bad and is probably less than a mile. As an alternative, you could cross the Hot Metal Bridge to 2nd Ave. Then take Route 885 across the Glenwood Bridge. Look for the Homestead signs once across the bridge. This intersection will be the only area that will be a bit nerve racking. Take route 837 through Homestead to Amity Ste / E 5th Ave and make a left, cross the tracks into the Waterfront area and make a right. You will see the path near the far end of the road.
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