Trailing Off: 3 Must-Use City Bike Paths

Break out your bicycle, and stretch your legs before taking a long ride around the city.

Photo via Flickr


South Side Riverfront Trail


The summer opening of the Southside Riverfront Trail near Sandcastle Waterpark enables local cyclistts start their trek at The Waterfront and tack on a few extra miles. Formally named the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, this path follows along the river from Homestead through South Side and offers scenic views of the city's neighborhoods. Not far off the beaten path is Over the Bar Bicycle Café on East Carson Street, decorated with reused bike parts and offering a peanut butter-smothered burger.

Continue along the trail for a bit before taking a break at the South Shore Riverfront Park. The newly constructed amphitheater and park give bikers plenty of room to sprawl out and enjoy a front-row seat to all of the river action. As bikers ride toward Station Square, there are several areas to stop and enjoy the surroundings or go fishing if prepared.

Bessemer Court, located in the heart of Station Square, has sit-down restaurants as well as places to grab a quick bite. Not looking to stop? Pedal through and admire the colorful fountain.

As riders pass Highmark Stadium and reach the end, they can head back toward South Side or embark on another path.

Those who chose the latter will be rewarded with one of the most spectacular views of the city. As you approach West Carson Street, turn left and follow the narrow sidewalk onto the Fort Pitt Bridge. (Afraid of heights? Keep your eyes focused ahead.) The trail across the bridge provides an amazing view of the Point, the three rivers and the stadiums. Be sure to stop and snap a few pictures. Just be cautious of passersby. This path will lead you straight into Point State Park; bike on.

Best for:

• Casual and long-distance bikers: Stroll along the trail and enjoy all of the sights, or bike straight through and extend your ride by checking out other trails.

• Dog lovers: If you’re bringing your pet, stop at the South Side Riverfront Dog Park, located on the trail past SouthSide Works.


North Shore Trail


Riders can stop briefly at Point State Park or spend the whole afternoon. Either way, check out the breathtaking fountain, which made a comeback in June.  Head toward the Fort Duquesne Bridge, which will lead you to the rest of your adventure. As you cross the bridge, the North Shore Trail loops around the Carnegie Science Center and back along the river. Depending on when you’re riding, you can catch a game or concert at Heinz Field, Stage AE or PNC Park.

Ready for dinner? Stop by The Esplanade, where you have your choice of dining at Jerome Bettis Grille 36, Rivertowne North Shore and other eateries. If your companions want to skip dinner, be sure to at least pass the Water Steps, located between The Esplanade and the river; this landmark is a unique water feature with cascading steps offering visitors a place to cool off.

After you pass by the stadiums, the trail continues along the North Shore. Take a detour across the 16 Street Bridge into the Strip District, or stay on the path toward Washington’s Landing. As you reach Washington’s Landing, your ride becomes more serene. Redfin Blues is the only restaurant in this area, offering seating on the outdoor deck overlooking the river. As you bike farther along the trail, you’ll pass more boating docks and a set of tennis courts. When you reach the end, the trail swings around and continues in the direction you came. Skip this turn and check out a secret spot straight ahead. Walk down steps to find rocks that offer a unique view of the Allegheny.

Best for:

• Family day trips: Bike to a game or watch it at Jerome Bettis Grille 36. Head over to Washington's Landing for a quick bite if you're in the mood for taking a rather scenic ride.


Eliza Furnace Rail Trail


You can enter this trail from Point State Park or South Side. If you’re starting at the Point, bike through town and get onto the trail near Grant Street. Informally known as the “jail trail,” the Eliza Furnace Rail Trail runs parallel to South Side on the opposite side of the river. As you bike past the Allegheny County Jail, you can continue all the way to Panther Hallow in Oakland or get off at the Hot Metal Bridge and ride over to the SouthSide Works for a quick shopping break.

Best for:

• First-timers: If it’s your first bike ride, or you just left your cycle at home, have no fear. Stop at Golden Triangle Bike Rental (near Grant Street) to get a bike for the day.

• Roller-bladers: Biking isn’t your first choice? Though we're focused on all the joys of biking in Pittsburgh — and city trails — one of the nice things about the trail is that it's paved.

• Downtown workers: The close proximity to downtown offices makes for a perfect lunch-break activity or post-work exercise routine.

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