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Route in Pittsburgh from Amtrak station to start of GAP trail?

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Route in Pittsburgh from Amtrak station to start of GAP trail?

Old 09-02-18, 04:56 PM
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Route in Pittsburgh from Amtrak station to start of GAP trail?

At the end of this month, I would like to take the Amtrak and bike from Point of Rocks, Maryland, to the Pittsburgh Amtrak station, which it says is downtown. Where can a find a safe bike route from the station to the actual GAP trail? I'm having no luck. Thanks for any help on this. --the Geezer
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Old 09-02-18, 05:32 PM
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Probably easiest to Google maps on your smartphone fand select bike route
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Old 09-02-18, 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus
Probably easiest to Google maps on your smartphone fand select bike route
Yes, easiest. I am hoping to hear from someone who has actually done it. And ideally, tips from Pittsburghers who know the city and what to avoid.
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Old 09-02-18, 05:57 PM
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The start of the route is at the Point State Park Fountain. Some maps: https://gaptrail.org/explore
If I remember correctly, I took Boulevard of the Allies for several blocks, which is parallel to the route on the linked map.
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Old 09-02-18, 06:43 PM
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I did this a few years back 2015 the train arrives at 4 or 5 am so unless you spend a lot of time with bike assembly, traffic won’t be an issue. If I remember right I rode a street about 1 block west of the most direct route (cherry way or something) the most direct route is to simply go on the same street Amtrak is on to the trailhead, it’s only a few blocks you could even walk it on the sidewalk if needed. What traffic I encountered was very civilized. Guess they are used to seeing bikes. Same thing in DC if you are going that far, lots of bike infrastructure and no problem with traffic.
In Pittsburg I then rode the trail on the north side of the river and crossed on the Hot Metal Bridge to the south side. This assumes you are coming from west the train from east arrives at different time. After you arrive at the trailhead in Pittsburg the trail is complete to Cumberland.
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Old 09-02-18, 07:53 PM
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You will likely be coming in on the Capital Limited late at night. I would not ride the trail at night especially close to the city or in the Duquense and Mckeesport area. There are a number of homeless people on the trial and there is drug activity in Duquense and Mckeesport.

I would get a room, even if it is for a few hours.

There are a couple of hotels right on the trail on Southside that should not be two awful expensive. One is the Spring Hill Suites which is right on the trail Hot Metal and Water Street.

Take Grant Street to 2nd Ave. Cross the Hot Metal Bridge into Southside. Do not take the bike trail.

Another option would be to stay at a hotel right near the the Amtrak Station. There are a number of hotels very close to the station. This would give you the option to visit the downtown area and Bicycle Heaven.

To get to the trail I would cross the Smithfield Street Bridge and Get on the Three Rivers . Heritage Trail there. It will be a more pleasant ride on that side of the river. Much quieter.

A route to the bridge during the day is optional. There is simply no street in the downtown area (except the 10th street bypass) that I am uncomfortable to ride even at the height of rush hour.

If I have the day off, I would be happy to give you a tour. Just PM me.

P.S. You might see "unusual" activity when passing Duquense, even during the day. Just keep your eyes on the trail and keep going. Do not take any back streets in Mckeesport. Stay on the main streets. In fact I would skip the trail in Mckeesport. Instead. take Lysle Blvd to Walnut and cross the river on the 15th Street Bridge. The trail will just bring you back to the bridge anyway and there is often glass on the trail in Mckeesport.

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Old 09-03-18, 07:58 AM
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Here is an account of the trip I took back to my car at one of the trail heads outside of town. The trail begins downtown, but I settled on parking in McKeesport since the lot is shared by the local police. I don't know that it was the "right" route to take, but it worked and I didn't run into any trouble.
Simply Cycle: GAP/CO summarized and fear unrealized
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Old 09-03-18, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by irwin7638
Here is an account of the trip I took back to my car at one of the trail heads outside of town. The trail begins downtown, but I settled on parking in McKeesport since the lot is shared by the local police. I don't know that it was the "right" route to take, but it worked and I didn't run into any trouble.
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OP is coming in by train,
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Old 09-03-18, 08:03 AM
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Almost forgot about the hostel in southside.

South Side Traveler?s Rest | Hostel Lodging in Pittsburgh Along the Great Allegheny Passage

Again use surface streets and not trails at night but try to avoid Carson at night. Lots of drunks on that street at night.
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Old 09-03-18, 09:00 AM
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Amtrack arrives around midnight. The Drury hotel is 2 blocks east and caters to cyclists - stay there. When you leave the Drury, just north is 10th Street (at Liberty). Follow 10th 2 blocks north and continue into the waterfall pathway through the convention center. Itís wonderful and ends at the river where it meets the Three rivers heritage trail. Go left (SE), under a couple bridges (Warhol) and itís maybe 1/4mi to the point and Ft. Pitt where the GAP starts. From there itís pretty easy to follow. McKeesport is a good place to park. No issues riding through there, just abandoned industry.
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Old 09-03-18, 09:27 AM
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Yeah. If the train is on time, you won't get in until around midnight. If it's on time. I would get a room. If you start riding on Saturday, I found downtown early on a Saturday morning to be pretty much harmless traffic-wise.
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Old 09-04-18, 05:46 AM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
You will likely be coming in on the Capital Limited late at night. I would not ride the trail at night especially close to the city or in the Duquense and Mckeesport area. There are a number of homeless people on the trial and there is drug activity in Duquense and Mckeesport.

I would get a room, even if it is for a few hours.

.......
P.S. You might see "unusual" activity when passing Duquense, even during the day. Just keep your eyes on the trail and keep going. Do not take any back streets in Mckeesport. Stay on the main streets. In fact I would skip the trail in Mckeesport. Instead. take Lysle Blvd to Walnut and cross the river on the 15th Street Bridge. The trail will just bring you back to the bridge anyway and there is often glass on the trail in Mckeesport.
I agree that the 15th street bridge is the best route through McKeesport and that riding through the projects in McKeesport can seem a bit scary but I regularly ride that section of the GAP for exercise, Waterfront to Dravo Cemetery and back, and I look people in the eye and greet them with a smile and pretty much always get the same response in return. Though I have to admit years ago, when my daughter was still in high school a couple of kids rode past us on their BMX bikes and gave her the "hey babe" greeting. But in ~7 years of riding that section it's the worst encounter I've had, maybe I'm just lucky. But as Spinnaker states, watch out for glass as it's also the area where I've gotten 90% of my flats but again it's also where I do the most of my riding... Also, I do believe there's signage as you approach the bridge calling out the two options for the trail as you approach the 15th street bridge. I guess I ride the trail so much I'm oblivious to signage at this point.
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Old 09-04-18, 06:35 AM
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I have never had an issue either. I even passed through Duquesne once because the trail was not yet opened and the person I was leading refused to ride on 837 in that area.

But I would not tempt fate and use the back streets. Nor would I ride at night. 99% of the people in those towns are wonderful people. It it the 1% you need to worry about.

The split you speak of is called look the loop as I recall. Staying on that side of the river the trail goes down to North Versailles It is rough but doable. You cross at the Boston Bridge. If you stay om the main street, it is a bit steep but there are a number of restaurants along the way, if you are in need of lunch.

Crossing the 15th Street bridge you . will have a nice steep hump to go over but other than that it is in good condition. I think they fixed it but the puddle at the very end of River Road might still be there. You can avoid it my passing the jersey barrier entrance to the trail a bit and slipping through the barrier.
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Old 09-04-18, 07:40 AM
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Yeah. Well, maybe I should have prefaced that I have actually done it and found the google maps to be sufficient and most up to date. We took the train from DC to Pittsburgh, spent a night at the Marriot downtown and then early next morning rode the empty streets to the fountain.

Originally Posted by MrJames67
Yes, easiest. I am hoping to hear from someone who has actually done it. And ideally, tips from Pittsburghers who know the city and what to avoid.
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Old 09-04-18, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
OP is coming in by train,
I think the OP is leaving by train, coming in by bike.
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Old 09-04-18, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
OP is coming in by train,
I know that. That's how I returned to Pittsburgh from Washington. The post is about the ride from the train station to the McKeesport trail head where I left my car.

Marc
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Old 09-04-18, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus
Yeah. Well, maybe I should have prefaced that I have actually done it and found the google maps to be sufficient and most up to date. We took the train from DC to Pittsburgh, spent a night at the Marriot downtown and then early next morning rode the empty streets to the fountain.
Thank you so much to everyone who answered. If I arrive at Pittsburgh in the evening, as seems to happen, I plan to just stay in the station and sleep in a chair or on a bench..I sleep easily anywhere. And then leave the station at first light.

And Rob E, I will be starting on Amtrak with the bike, going north from Maryland to Pittsburgh. (My car will be back where I started, with relatives.) Then ride the GAP and C&O, hammock camping along the way, until I reach where I began, Point of Rocks, Maryland. I lived in DC for many years, rode on the towpath from Georgetown north many times, but not as far as Cumberland. Have no desire to do that stretch again.
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Old 09-04-18, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by MrJames67
And Rob E, I will be starting on Amtrak with the bike, going north from Maryland to Pittsburgh. (My car will be back where I started, with relatives.) Then ride the GAP and C&O, hammock camping along the way, until I reach where I began, Point of Rocks, Maryland. I lived in DC for many years, rode on the towpath from Georgetown north many times, but not as far as Cumberland. Have no desire to do that stretch again.
My mistake. I read that first "bike" in your first post as a verb. As in, I'm going to take Amtrak and then bike to the Pittsburgh Amtrak station. Clearly not what you meant.
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Old 09-04-18, 11:51 AM
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hmm, I've slept in train stations and it's never better than just keep going and pitch my stealth site when I get into the sticks. I'd just as well take the bike ride through the empty night city to the fountain and then bike the trail until I found good trees to hammock.

...having said that, the first few miles are either sketchy or strip mall suburbia ... but I still think you'll find suitable trees and by 1:30 am will be sound asleep.

Originally Posted by MrJames67
Thank you so much to everyone who answered. If I arrive at Pittsburgh in the evening, as seems to happen, I plan to just stay in the station and sleep in a chair or on a bench..I sleep easily anywhere. And then leave the station at first light.

And Rob E, I will be starting on Amtrak with the bike, going north from Maryland to Pittsburgh. (My car will be back where I started, with relatives.) Then ride the GAP and C&O, hammock camping along the way, until I reach where I began, Point of Rocks, Maryland. I lived in DC for many years, rode on the towpath from Georgetown north many times, but not as far as Cumberland. Have no desire to do that stretch again.
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Old 09-04-18, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus
hmm, I've slept in train stations and it's never better than just keep going and pitch my stealth site when I get into the sticks. I'd just as well take the bike ride through the empty night city to the fountain and then bike the trail until I found good trees to hammock.

...having said that, the first few miles are either sketchy or strip mall suburbia ... but I still think you'll find suitable trees and by 1:30 am will be sound asleep.
See my post about riding the trails at night near the city. You aren't pitching a tent anywhere legal / safe until you hit the Dravo campground nearly 30 miles from the train station.
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Old 09-04-18, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by MrJames67
Thank you so much to everyone who answered. If I arrive at Pittsburgh in the evening, as seems to happen, I plan to just stay in the station and sleep in a chair or on a n.
I would not plan on that. I am not sure about the train station but the bus station is horrible to touring cyclists. Guards are extremely rude an uncooperative. I am guessing th etrain station is no going to allow you to sleep there.

That said, on my last arrival in the Pittsburgh station the attendants there were extremely nice. The vending machine for water messed up and I lost my money. I figured Amtrak employees weren't able to help but I also figured it would not hurt to ask. I was right but they also offred to get me some water. They didn't have to do that. Any time I have stopped in to check on tickets everyone was very nice.

But I still would not plan on camping out. What I would fo is just not plop yourself down but check with someone that it is OK. We have a number of homeless in the city. I can see where Amtrak would not want people just camping out in the lobby. But I would still consider the hostel.at least as a backup plan.


I would get a bed at the hostel on the south side and get a good nights sleep and not have to worry about having your bike or gear ripped off.
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Old 09-04-18, 01:42 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
See my post about riding the trails at night near the city. You aren't pitching a tent anywhere legal / safe until you hit the Dravo campground nearly 30 miles from the train station.
Yeah. It's more than the first few miles that are through developed areas. And I wouldn't want to risk getting booted from the station in the middle of the night to save a few bucks on a room, especially if I am concerned with finding a safe route to the start of the trail to begin with. But maybe I am weird that way
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Old 09-05-18, 05:20 AM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
......

But I would not tempt fate and use the back streets. Nor would I ride at night. 99% of the people in those towns are wonderful people. It it the 1% you need to worry about.


The split you speak of is called look the loop as I recall. Staying on that side of the river the trail goes down to North Versailles It is rough but doable. You cross at the Boston Bridge. If you stay om the main street, it is a bit steep but there are a number of restaurants along the way, if you are in need of lunch.


Crossing the 15th Street bridge you . will have a nice steep hump to go over but other than that it is in good condition. I think they fixed it but the puddle at the very end of River Road might still be there. You can avoid it my passing the jersey barrier entrance to the trail a bit and slipping through the barrier.

The hump was black topped either last year or the year before, time's too blurry for me, but the nasty limestone slurry at the Boston side of the hump is gone but sometimes there are puddles where you speak of but I'd argue they're minor. You're right it is the loop and if I recall the 15th St. bridge is the official route but again I haven't stopped to look at the signage in years. I took the other route the first time I rode the trail and have never done it again as it sucked. I agree with not riding at night but would make that argument for any urban area in Pittsburgh. I also frequently commute from Edgewood past the West End Circle for work and am not sure what the city did but haven't really seen many homeless people along the city side of the trail the past couple of seasons. Also, not sure what your budget is but the Westin is right across the street from the Amtrak station and they may let you take your bikes to the room, or if you're really ballsy you can try to snooze it out on a park bench in the Point, I've done it a few times in my more bohemian days without issue but am not sure it would fly with the law nowadays... As for the route, I know I'm in the minority here but I still think crossing the Ft Pitt Bridge is much prettier in the morning than riding through town to the Smithfield St. Bridge and the Jail Trail side is just too freaking noisy at rush hour. Heck on really nice mornings I still find myself standing on the West End Bridge admiring the city view... This is from last Friday's commute...


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Old 09-05-18, 06:45 AM
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The "hump" has been paved for years. In fact so far back I don''t remember it not being paved.

And there at least always was a huge puddle right were River Road ends and the trail begins. And yes it is (or was) a problem since you can't see what is under the water.

There are lots of homeless right along the trail unless they have moved them out in the past few months. Tents are right next to the trail. I don't know how you can miss them No were near as bad as other cities but they are there. It used to be really bad under the Birmingham Bridge, next to the tracks but I have not seen them there in a while.
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Old 09-05-18, 06:51 AM
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Fort Pitt Bridge is an option but a PITA when you have bags trying to squeeze through a couple of narrow areas on the bridge then again on Carson. Not too bad if you don't have someone coming in th other direction but still a bit of a pain.

I would stay on the surface street through Station Square and continue through the gas station at the other end of Station Square. Way too many tourists to take the bike trail behind Station Square.
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