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The Three Rivers Heritage Trail evolved from five separate trails and today comprises several unique sections. Most of these segments are riverfront trails along both banks of the three rivers that form Pittsburgh’s famous point: the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio.
The westernmost segment is also known as the Chateau Trail where it runs through the virtually uninhabited industrial neighborhood of that name. Sweeping river views greet trail users to the west, while the area’s warehouses and businesses line the trail on its opposite side. Trail users pass between the Ohio River and both the Rivers Casino and Carnegie Science Center before emerging into North Shore Park.
The park spans the distance between Heinz Field and PNC Park, the home venues of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Pirates, respectively. Here the Chateau Trail becomes the North Shore Trail segment, which continues uninterrupted upstream along the Allegheny River to just beyond Millvale’s Riverfront Park. The route provides an urban outdoor experience with vistas up and down the rivers, views of the development on the North Side, a connection to downtown Pittsburgh and close-ups of the contrast between old industry and new.
Take the trail bridge from the North Shore segment to Washington’s Landing, an island in the Allegheny River, to walk its loop trail. Or you can cross the 40th Street Bridge to experience Lawrenceville’s short, unpaved portion of the trail. Back west towards the stadiums, separated bicycle and pedestrian facilities on the handful of bridges over the Allegheny River allow trail users to access Pittsburgh’s downtown.
Here the trail runs on the south bank of the Allegheny River, passing Pittsburgh’s convention center in the shadow of the city’s skyscrapers. Traveling west on the trail leads to Point State Park at the confluence of the three rivers. The history-filled park features the remains of Fort Pitt and Fort Duquesne as well as a popular fountain that sprays water up to 150 feet in the air. East of downtown, the Strip District Trail runs through the former industrial neighborhood, now home to a number of street vendors, antique dealers and farmers’ markets during the summer months.
Extending southeast from Point State Park, the Eliza Furnace Trail—one of the oldest components of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail—has a history smelted from the city’s largest steel mills of the past. Today you are treated to an extensive array of museum-quality interpretive signage that lends a sense of history and place within the Pittsburgh region. This segment is also known as the Jail Trail, as it passes quickly by the Allegheny County Jail.
At the Hot Metal Bridge, the trail splits into two. The Panther Hollow segment runs south then abruptly turns north, leading directly to the 456-acre Schenley Park and close to both Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. The Hazelwood segment instead turns to the Monongahela River, running south along its eastern shore to Pittsburgh’s Hazelwood neighborhood. After a gap in the trail in Hazelwood, the short Duck Hollow segment begins, passing through dense woodlands next to an active rail line.
The Hot Metal Bridge, which once carried iron by rail from the Eliza furnaces to Pittsburgh’s south side to produce finished steel, has been converted to a pedestrian connection that crosses the Monongahela River and leads to the South Side Trail segment. This part of the trail runs through South Side Riverfront Park in the hip South Side Flats neighborhood, providing even more sweeping water views.
In the west, the trail morphs into the Station Square segment, which passes through the famous shopping and entertainment complex occupying buildings originally used by the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad. In the east, the South Side Trail becomes the Baldwin Borough segment of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. The trail leaves Pittsburgh here, running between the Monongahela River and an active rail corridor before reaching the community of Homestead at the Glenwood Bridge.
The trail that continues into Homestead is the 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage (GAP), which runs all the way to Cumberland, Maryland. In fact, three parts of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail—the South Side segment, Hot Metal Bridge and Eliza Furnace segment—also make up the northernmost route of the GAP to take long-distance trail trekkers into Point State Park and downtown Pittsburgh.
On-street metered parking is available throughout Pittsburgh, as well as paid parking garages. Farther out from the city center, free parking is available at Millvale Riverfront Park (70 River Front Dr.), Schenley Park (101 Panther Hollow Rd.), and Peggy’s Harbor marina.
For those taking public transportation to the trail, the Port Authority of Allegheny County operates a light rail system called the “T” that has half a dozen stations located near the trail. Bikes are permitted on board the T and all Port Authority buses are equipped with front-mounted bike racks.
I was passing through town and couldn’t wait to ride this trail. It was a little disappointing in that I kept running into dead ends without good signage. Once you get out of the city it’s really nice and hooks up with another trail that will take you to DC (or so I was told).
My family and I started at Millvale and had a great ride into the city. The path is smooth and flat - I'd recommend a road or hybrid bike but this path was fine for any kind of bike. A must see is Bicycle Heaven which is just past Rivers Casino. Look forward to riding this trail again real soon.
Gets you up close to Pittsburgh - takes you past all the great things the city has to offer (a bit tricky to get over to the South Side is the only drawback)
Started in Homestead and rode the west shore to the end. Mostly shaded, running between the river and RR. Came back a bit and went over Liberty bridge to downtown. No trail here, you are directed on sidewalks with good signage. Went all the way around the point to the end just past convention center. Then jumped over the Warhol bridge (ramps provided) to the North Shore. Rode past PNC and Heinz fields to the Casino. Came back and crossed back to the point using the 279 bridge. A bit of a burner getting up the hill since its a high bridge. Took the sidewalk back to Liberty bridge. Don't try to take the little path along the river - it dead ends before the Liberty bridge. Use the sidewalks. Look closely for the sidewalk, and you can stay on the city side to ride the Furnace trail. This trail runs in between the lanes of 376, so it is noisy and not very scenic. Crossed back to Homestead area using the Hot Metal bridge. About 25 miles total. A very scenic day. From Homestead the trail continues as the Great Alleghany passage to Wash DC.
We've biked Pittsburgh numerous times and it's by far the only way to see Pittsburgh!! We usually park between Heinz and PNC in Gold Lot 2 ($5 All Day). Right across the street is the bike trail up and over the bridge, it comes right into Point Park. You can choose to the Monongahela on trail (by the Fort Pitt Museum) or travel onto Boulevard of the Allies and Smithfield Bridge across to Station Square. If you aren't comfortable riding in traffic, take the bridge from the park and you'll travel on some sidewalks going the opposite direction until you come to the bike trail headed toward Station Square. The trail comes out beside Southside. If you go behind the Hofbrauhouse there's a recently installed zigzag that lets you travel back down to the bike path which continues East. From there it continues behind Sandcastle, all the way down to the Waterworks. It actually continues to DC but Waterworks is as far as we've gone.
From Southside you can cross at the hot metal bridge and take the trail back West toward the point. This side provides GREAT views of the buildings and water. It travels between two highways completely separate from traffic and is always fun to giggle at the cars backed up as you effortlessly pass on by. From this side the trail ends at the Smithfield bridge. You'll either have to take roads or travel back across the bridge down to the 376 bridge.
On the North side you can take the trail from the Point up to the strip district. This side is really fun because you'll travel under the bridges and right along the water (no guardrails!) It also connects with the David Lawrence Convention Center which is great to ride between the waterfalls!
If you chose to stay on the North Shore the trail runs West past Rivers Casino which is as far as I like to go and East all the way to Waterfront.
Overall the trail is fairly flat with the slightest of hills. Great access points and very well marked. It's possible to see all of Pittsburgh without riding in traffic! Our most favorite trail that we could ride all day long!!!
We parked behind hienz factory and rode all the way down to Neville island we went past pnc park and hienz field. Then we crossed the bridge to pointe park. Then up to the strip for lunch. This is a great way to expierence Pittsburgh. Riding this trail is very easy and with all to see you hardly know you have traveled any distance before you know it you got 20miles under your belt. I highly recommend this trail.
In June, whilst on holiday from the UK, I read that the trail had finally been completed linking Downton to the rest of the Great Allegheny Passage. In my rash old age I decided to hire a bike from Golden Triangle Bikes and embark on what most people would think of a marathon 85mile ride which included the Three Rivers Trail, Steel Valley Trail and finally the Montour Trail. Here are my thoughts, and apologies if you read this again on the other routes:
The Three Rivers Trail is generally easy to follow apart from the new section – strangely enough! Somehow I found myself bereft of signs and riding through a car park before spotting a small sign in the distance. To be fair, this could quite easily be excused as this part of the trail had only been open a week, but it did set a precedence for other parts of my ride unfortunately.
From a scenery perspective, this area of the trail to Homestead is rich in industrial heritage which of course compromises the ‘get away from it all’ tranquility! The trail surface is well maintained and very easy to ride especially given that there are virtually no inclines.
It was so nice visiting the city on bikes. We parked at the free lot below the incline.We had lunch at Station Square and then rode over the bridge to Point State Park.We then went over the bridge to the North Shore which is beautiful. We then rode over to the Strip District bought a few things. We rode back to Station Square emptied our bike and rode down the South Side. We had a liter of beer at the Hofbräuhaus. Which was so much fun. Then back to the North Shore to the Casino.My wife was enjoying the casino more than me so I jumped back on the bike and rode for another hour. All said I put in 34 miles and a ton of memories. I have been to the Burgh countless time but this was the most fun I have ever had there.My hats of to the Three Rivers Heritage trail!
As a newer cyclist this is the trail I have been riding the most, as I work to build my distance. I park about a half mile from Western Penn and ride to the park in Millvale. This is just about a 12 mile round trip ride with just a few small hills between PNC Park and the Casino. Yes you might have to dodge some geese in the early morning along with some kayak renters but it is not that bad. Your best bet is to ride this trail before 11am. if you want to ride at night I suggest you make sure there is no Steeler or Pirate games as there is way to many people on the trial going to and from their parked cars and they also take up all the free trail parking spaces.
My wife and I biked The Three Rivers Heritage Trail System on a beautiful Saturday in late June. We start on the North Shore Trail under the 31st Street Bridge. When we got to PNC Park, what a zoo. The Pirates were playing Boston and the trail packed with fans walking to the game. We then took the Ft Duquesne Bridge over to Point State Park. The Duquesne Bridge is a beautiful bridge to bike over. The dedicated lane is very wide and the railing is high enough to make you feel really safe crossing the Allegheny River. The Ft. Pitt Bridge crossing the Monongahela River over to the Station Square Trail was another story. The dedicated lane was very narrow and the safety railing was not as high as the seat on my bike. We decided to walk our bikes over the Ft. Pitt Bridge and the long off ramp. We proceeded to Station Square where the North Side Trail begins and took this trail to the South Side Works. Then it was back over the Monongahela River via the Hot Metal Bridge and following the Eliza Furnace Trail back to Downtown and the Point State Park. Then it was back over the Ft Duquesne Bridge to pick up the North Side Trail back to the car. Over all a great day in the saddle exploring the trails of Pittsburgh.
The trail now has more than 6 miles completed. The new trailhead is in Millvale and the Millvale Park. Get off 28 in Millvale and go under the railroad viaduct. The trail has been extended to the Old State Prison in Manchester, another 2.5 miles of trail not on the Rails to Trails description. The worst part (and the most interesting is the center section across from downtown Pittsburgh. The city often hosts events along the river and blocks part of the trail without warning, or creates congestion that makes for real pedestrian dodging. At the same time, the sculptures, kayak rental station, waterfall feature, submarine, casino, large flocks of geese, and two stadiums make it an interesting ride. If there is an event along the water, there are alternate routes along the buildings between the two stadiums with several winding links up and down the grade to the river.
The Three Rivers Heritage Trail system is a great and unique way to see the city. I have lived in Pittsburgh my entire life and continue to be amazed by this urban and environmental space. The Trail system provides a great way to get around the city, especially as an alternative to sidewalks along busy streets. The signage system in place on the trail provides interesting information about the area's history, and can be used to create a self guided tour for locals and visitors alike.
The South Side part of the trail has a lot of variety and still needs some work in a few places. I live on the South Side and can access it at several places. The section from the from the Hot Metal Bridge to near Sandcastle is paved and for me is a great place to sprint and warm up for an evening ride around the city. This section passes the practice football field for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the University of Pittsburgh.
Going toward the city the trail is near the South Side Works shopping area with restaurants and a REI store just in case one needs parts or a repair. At this time the trail is crushed stone for a few hundred feet but is paved near the Birmingham Bridge and boat launch area. From there the trail curves through a wooded area. Than it goes under the S. 10th Street Bridge and continues to a sand plant. For now bikers have to cross a rail track and ride on some cobble stones to detour around that area. Then it links up with the Pittsburgh Riverwalk at Station Square part of the trail.
Almost all the time you can see the river with some great views of the city. This is still a new trail and more people are beginning to discover how nice it is.
"This trail runs along the Allehgehney River from Milvale to the old state prison. It runs next to PNC Park (home of the Pirates) and Heinze Field (home of the Steeler). It includes an awsome view of downtown Pittsburgh and ""the point"".
Thas path has many pedistrians so you have to be careful while riding it. I speak from experience when I say never ride when Steelers have a home game. You will be dodging drunk tailgaters."
I start my ride in the southside under the glenwood bridge. At the moment there isn't a good trail head there. I just park the car and ride near the tracks for 3/10 a mile. The south side trail goes about a half mile past sation square and is smooth asphalt. Staion Square is very busy and is more for pedestrians then bikes. There is no trail through down town but it is fairly easy to get to the north side. The nothside trail is concreate from hinze feild to past PNC park then it turns to a much bumpier dirt.
"This is a good trail for biking and roller blading. Unfortunately, the trail is not very long and I wouldn't go out of my way to visit this trail unless I lived close by. The trail only follows the river for a couple miles. It would be a great trail if they extend it atleast several more miles northeast towards the Coraopolis and Sewickley area and a few miles west towards Squirrel Hill. Until that happens, I won't be back."
"The best thing about the Jail Trail is its surface: mirror-smooth asphalt! It's also a great link between Pittsburgh's Oakland and downtown neighborhoods, bypassing the unpleasant and traffic-ridden uptown streets. My only complaints are headwinds and noise from the parkway traffic. Interestingly, though, you ride between the eastbound and westbound lanes at times, and during rush hour, you move faster than the traffic. Haw haw! "
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