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Pittsburgh to Cleveland

Old 05-22-11, 11:39 AM
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Pittsburgh to Cleveland

I'm planning a Philadelphia to Cleveland ride for later this summer (via C&O and GAP trails). I have most of the route planned out but am still looking for routes from Pittsburgh to Cleveland.
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Old 06-01-11, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Bezalel
I'm planning a Philadelphia to Cleveland ride for later this summer (via C&O and GAP trails). I have most of the route planned out but am still looking for routes from Pittsburgh to Cleveland.
I got no responses with my thread asking about Toledo to Pittsburgh. If you hear of anything from Pittsburgh to Clevelend, let me know; I'll do the same. (Haven't decided if I'm going through Cleveland or Akron yet.)
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Old 06-04-11, 07:37 PM
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It's a bit of a stretch, but perhaps the folks that organize GOBA can help. The GOBA tours cover different areas of Ohio each year.

https://www.goba.com/

Also the Western Pennsylvania Wheelman. I know they organize some rides that stretch into eastern Ohio.

https://wpwbikeclub.org/
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Old 06-05-11, 04:42 AM
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Toledo to Cleveland, Cleveland to Pittsburgh, Pittsburg to DC routes

I have riden from the Toledo area to cleveland and/or back probably six times wether it be to the GAP (Great Alllegheny Passage), to Cleveland proper, or as is most often the case to the Cuyahoga valley area.

Most recently I biked this route on my 1500+ mile trip in January down the eastern divide. It included the entire Cuyahoga canal trail, most of the GAP, skyline drive and most of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Snow, campfires, and the roads and trails almost completely car free. What's not to love. :)

A few pics: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mmeiser...7626034571830/

The below URL is a rough outline of the route I usually use from toledo to the start of the GAP (Great Allegheny Passage) near Pittsburgh.

https://tinyurl.com/4yg36pn

(The long url is at the bottom of this post for archival purposes.)

*Note: google's bike route mapping feature is a little convoluted. It's best to use it as refference but NOT to follow it line by line. Often times it sees bike path thru-ways as not connecting under freeway overpasses or crossing roads when they actually do. As such it will often come up with terribly convoluted runarounds when you can simply ride straight down a bike path or thru roadway. To be blunt. Google will route you a mile up the road and back when you can simply cross the street at the stop light. Do not follow google's turn by turn bicycling instructions... ever.

== toledo to cleveland route notes ==

First, i have followed the lakefront all the way from Toledo to Cleveland. I can post that route if you like as well, but usually I use a more direct inland route. Some sections are a little sparse / boring, but coming into Cleveland on the Lakefront is really very nice. Overall it's not a bad ride, especially if you catch a good tail wind (usually West to East).

Mostly though I tend to just follow my nose between the two on Northern Ohio's superbly paved backroads making use of a few key arteries that angle SE from Toledo such as Route 51, and the bike path between Elmore Ohio and Clyde Ohio. Indeed this bike path should be complete to Bellvue or even Monroeville by the end of the summer. yeah!

I generally try to avoid route 20 as it has a lot of truck traffic. There are some nice sections of it with perfectly paved 8 foot shoulders but there are also some horrible sections of it with 2 foot shoulders and a foot wide rub strip right down the middle for miles and miles.

Wind! It is really anyone's guess which way the wind will be blowing between Toledo and Cleveland. About 40% of the time it's E to W. The rest a combination of W-E, S-N and any general direction. Indeed it often changes depending on local conditions and time of day due the lake. The only thing you can count on with 90% accuracy is that the wind will be blowing, and likely quite hard. It's due a combination of the wide open farm country and the lake which make for consistently medium to high winds.

Ohio backroads rule:

While I prefer Route 51 and the bike path at least to Clyde Ohio one of my favorite things to do is simply put away the map and find the quietest and smallest ohio backroads I can between Toledo and Cleveland. Pretty much ALL roads are perfectly paved through middle northern Ohio. Indeed it's very hard if not impossible to find a gravel road in this area of the state.

It's not uncommon to find single lane roads that are absolutely perfect ribbons of pavement that stretch for miles and miles. Indeed people unfarmilliar with this area of Ohio sometimes mistake them for freshly sealed driveways. There are some superb finds on backroads like brick octoganal houses, cool old barns and beautiful farm country.

I think my favorite part about this route is as you go East that if you keep south you'll find some subtle landscape changes as you go through river and creek valleys that slowly increase to as you go East. These gradually become rolling hills as you approach the PA state line.


== Cleveland to Pittsburgh ==

There are more direct routes then the one linked to in this post, but I absolutely love to follow the canal tow path trail down the cuyahoga river valley. The southern parts are not complete though so it can get really confusing if you don't have good local maps. Akron in particular can be very tricky and should not be attempted at night as the route goes right through some brief, but still very bad sections of town. It's best to deal with congest and tricky urban / surban areas like this in the morning.

The absolute best navigational aid I've found is google maps on my Android phone (or you could use an iPhone). Prior to this I would have to stop at local gas stations to check local maps. Indeed routing around the incomplete sections to the south is all but impossible without good local maps or a GPS showing all the local roads.

That said most of the canal towns are absolutely beautiful and the crushed limestone is quick and pleasant. What's more there are now four hiker-biker camping spots on the Cuyahoga canal trail, though they are new and not well documented on the maps yet.

Crossing the Ohio river:

I've crossed the Ohio river into WV and PA in several spots all of which are not all that pleasant. I've found Steubenville to be the best by far.

The area between New Philladelphia and Steubenville is very beutifull with lots of nice easy rolling hills and little traffic. Secondly you can get pretty much right on the Panhandle Trail in WV after crossing the Ohio River. That said there is some brief congestion as you come into Steubenville and right after you cross the bridge into WV.

Last time I went through I took Market Street Bridge up Archer Hill Road to East Steubensville. However this is a HUGE climb and not very bike friendly. Google's suggestion to cross Fort Steuben Bridge and go up Freedom Way may a much better choice. It may be less hill, more bike friendly and it leads right to the start of the Panhandle Trail. I suspect it will be a little congested though.

Panhandle Trail, Montour Trail & the GAP:

The Panhandle trail in WV is only about 8 miles long I believe. Not the most beauiful and not that well groomed yet, but still the best way through the panhandle of WV.

The 40 mile long Montour Trail is also a must for dealing with suburban Pittsburgh. You can use it to go right into downtown Pittsburgh from the SW (haven't tried it), but mostly I just use it to skirt Pitts to the south.

I do not recommend going into Pittsburgh UNLESS they have completed the trail between Pittsburgh and McKeesport. I have done the Pitts to McKeesport route before and until every last bit is finished it is a nightmare. High traffic, no shoulder, pot holes, poor pavement, practically freeways, no room for passing, high congestion. It's one of the worst routes I've ridden.

That said when the last bit of throughway is finished I have no doubt Pittsburgh to McKeesport will be awesome with many bridges and some great views. Last I checked they had one last bridge to put in. Still... there are no good alternative routes until they get that last bridge complete.

That said, while the Eastern portions of the montour are a little lack luster as you get south of Pitts and SE of Pittsburgh it is a top notch class A trail with quite a few suprises including beautiful towns, rail bridges and rail tunnels (now bike bridges and bike tunnels), horse farms and in the last year they even added a couple hiker-biker camping spots. It really suprised the heck out of me how beautiful the SE part of the Montour was the first time I road through. Highly recommended.

That said some of the Eastern portions of the Montour are incomplete. Good local map are essential for a couple of the incomplete portions coming into Clariton before crossing into PA. Clariton, Glassport and McKeesport, indeed the whole area are some of the most economically depressed towns I've seen. They are old industrial / steel mill towns. There is no avoiding them. Best to plan to cross through them earlier in the day. Indeed the GAP doesn't really leave the industrial wasteland behind until you get up beyond Boston some 10-15 miles up the trail from McKeesport.

Resources:

I highly highly recommend joining the Montour Trail and Great Allegheny Passage yahoo groups / mailing lists before you go. They are superb resources for everything from the latest trail conditions, best workarounds for closed portions, accomidations, local eats, etc. etc. The people on these mailing lists are spectacularly welcoming and helpful. Ineed several times people have offered to come out and ride with me. There ae so many highlights for me on the GAP that I can't even begin a top ten list here. It's an absolute must to join that mailing list.


A tiny bit of background: I live just north of Toledo in Michigan. I ride sometimes with the local bike shop in Monroe on Wednesdays at 6:30. Several times a week with TAB (toledo area bicyclists) and a couple days a week with the Fremont Flatlanders. I usually ride six days a week. Indeed I'm heading out soon to do an 8am Sun TAB breakfast ride and a 1pm TAB fast ride. I'm fairly active on the TAB mailing list and help promote and organize some rides like the Fremont Flatlanders monthly hill ride down in Loudonville, OH. At 50 miles and 4k verticle feet of climbing it's a favorite.

Mostly though I love to tour, or as I like to think of it, going out for long rides that just happen to cross multiple days. I road tour fast and light on my aluminum and carbon road bike. I off road / backroad tour and bikepack/bike camp on a Salsa Fargo. And I have a traditional rack and pannier touring bike as well. I love back roads. I love bikepacking. I stealth camp. I love to night ride. I love to ride in the rain and snow. I love going ultra light. I regularly tour on my road bike with all my self supported gear weighing in at less then 30lbs (including the bike, tent/shelter, sleeping bag, cook kit), and I love squeezing s24o and s48o (sub 24/58 hour) overnighters. I have been known to cover 120 miles a day on average, and my idea of fun has been called odd / weird. For example, my 1500 mile trip from Cleveland down to Charleston, NC this last january via the GAP, skyline drive and the BRP (blue ridge parkway).

So... if you are biking through the toledo area, or live in the toledo area and care to ride shoot me an email / message via this site, facebook, flickr or other. I'll get it.


long url for archival purposes:
https://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&sour...5&z=8&lci=bike
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Old 06-05-11, 04:45 AM
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accidental double post, please ignore
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Old 06-16-11, 12:56 AM
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Steubenville, where a bridge is being demolished

This is my Wheeling to Pittsburgh route, of which the northern part might help you, if you are planning to go through Steubenville.

https://www.gpsies.com/map.do?fileId=nqckzwzcoqlwfbox

This map is for a group ride for 2012, and I am wondering what will have become of the Old Fort Steuben Bridge by then. I see reports that it is already demolished, and other reports that it is merely closed. Closed to whom?

What will be the alternative route for bicyclists?

Howard Metzenberg
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Old 08-11-11, 11:10 PM
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Thanks to everyone who responded. I've decided to use The Cleveland/Pittsburgh Connector by Anthony Ratajczak. https://www.adventurecycling.org/stor...-connector.cfm
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Old 08-12-11, 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Bezalel
Thanks to everyone who responded. I've decided to use The Cleveland/Pittsburgh Connector by Anthony Ratajczak. https://www.adventurecycling.org/stor...-connector.cfm
Thanks! You would think I'd know this existed since I've ridden through so many times. Will have to take a detailed look at the route.
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Old 09-09-11, 11:23 AM
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Those of us living in Cleveland know only too well - if you're looking for Pittsburgh, you don't need a map or GPS - you just go to where it smells really bad.
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Old 07-24-21, 04:43 AM
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Did you ride Pgh to Cleveland? Need a route.
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Old 07-24-21, 04:43 AM
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Can you send me the Pgh to Cleveland route you rode?
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Old 08-20-21, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Steven Ak
Can you send me the Pgh to Cleveland route you rode?
Steven, if you ask for directions in Pittsburg you will be told "You can't get there from here" and for the most part that is true and very true on a bike in terms of roads you would ride on. None the less I have a decent route into the South End of Pittsburg.
Take the Ohio to Erie Canal towpath for 70 miles south to where it appears to end at RT 212. Take Rt 212 south to Bowerston and pick up the Conotton Creek Trail to Jewett. Work you way across secondary roads to Steubenville. Take the Market Street Bridge across the Ohio river and go south about a mile and turn left on Mahan Lane and take it north to Morton Hill rd north to Low Grove Rd and turn right. Turn right on Harmon Creek rd and turn left onto Colliers Way and pickup the Panhandle and Montour trails to Pittsburg. It's damned near 175 miles but you will live.
For the most part its rail trails that are flat. If it is not rail trails it is a roller coaster. The section of RT 212 is about 17 miles and the Section from Jewett to Steubenville is about 28 miles and then 5-6 miles of brutal hills to the Panhandle trail All total 124 Miles of bike path and 51 miles of roads.
You can camp at camp Tuscazoar where the towpath hits 212 or there is another camp ground at Leesville Lake.. Trailriders Camp ground Harrison State Forest Just south of Jewett and the Renegade Ridge ATV Park in Bloomingdale.

Last edited by KPREN; 08-20-21 at 08:31 PM.
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Old 08-22-21, 01:59 AM
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What's rather perplexing about Google Maps' input on the connection between Jewett and the Panhandle Trail, is that it suggests putting a cyclist on shared US-22/OH-151 for a significant stretch of what is basically a freeway. (I understand this is not what YOU suggested, just that Google seems to think it's a wise idea) Then again, the west-east roads that would be used as an alternate to 22/151 are varying in condition and surface, so it'd be a total crap shoot as far as meandering through. I have family down in that region (Cadiz, Hopedale, etc.) and I never figured the area was very cycling-friendly.

I wonder if anyone besides myself might consider taking OH-87 out of Cleveland which, aside from Pepper Pike and Russell Center, doesn't have massive elevation changes. That can be taken to the Western Reserve Greenway, south into Warren. From there, I'm not sure whether I'd ride south into Lisbon or start heading toward Mercer...
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Old 08-22-21, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by a_d_a_m
What's rather perplexing about Google Maps' input on the connection between Jewett and the Panhandle Trail, is that it suggests putting a cyclist on shared US-22/OH-151 for a significant stretch of what is basically a freeway. (I understand this is not what YOU suggested, just that Google seems to think it's a wise idea) Then again, the west-east roads that would be used as an alternate to 22/151 are varying in condition and surface, so it'd be a total crap shoot as far as meandering through. I have family down in that region (Cadiz, Hopedale, etc.) and I never figured the area was very cycling-friendly.

I wonder if anyone besides myself might consider taking OH-87 out of Cleveland which, aside from Pepper Pike and Russell Center, doesn't have massive elevation changes. That can be taken to the Western Reserve Greenway, south into Warren. From there, I'm not sure whether I'd ride south into Lisbon or start heading toward Mercer...
Your problem is using Google Maps for anything bicycle. They have not updated the bicycling maps in the area for 10 years. I use a paid subscription to GaiaGPS that is excellent. You do have tp specify what type of cycling you are doing though or you might be surprised.
Gaia tends to route you on roads where traffic is very sparse but so are the services.

I have heard horror stories on most of the Northern Routes from Youngstown on but I have not checked routes using Gaia. If you stick with their routes you will not get run over but will die of thirst and hunger.

Edit: Full disclosure is that I ride a long range e bike and often do not take Gaia's first suggestion which is always routing you through the path of least resistance. If Gaia insists on routing around the area I want to go through even though I am encouraging it to route me there, I take notice and do a bit of research as to why. I usually take their suggestions if they fight me. I once did a switch of bike type from Mountain Bikepacking to road bike in the middle of nowhere in a SE Ohio National Forest and Gaia basically said "You have got to be kidding me right?. What kind of bad would you prefer?"

I connect my suggested route with the GAP-C&O. I did not get into the details of exact routing down there because itts a case where Gaia takes a bit longer route and I cut off a few miles with more climbing and dirt paths and have not actually ridden the entire Gaia suggested route.

Last edited by KPREN; 08-22-21 at 07:55 AM.
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Old 08-22-21, 12:40 PM
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I'll have to check out Gaia - having never heard of it until now I'm definitely intrigued. I'm setting out for a tour in a week, so maybe I will route my first day in Gaia as well and see how it does for me by comparison.

Like all things in life, I take Google's suggestions (be it navigation, news, etc.) with several grains of salt. I just know that 22/151 suggestion and couldn't believe Google would be so dumb as to suggest freeway riding when other routes are certainly available. I still think I'd take OH-87 out of Cleveland, but then again I'm an east sider so these roads don't scare me..
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Old 08-22-21, 03:33 PM
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Adam, I live west of Wadsworth on the SW side. The closest point on the towpath is 12 miles but I prefer entering at Clinton which is 14 miles.
It is not the roads in Ohio that are scary. Its the roads in PA designed to discourage Browns fans from driving to Pittsburg.
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