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near Squirrel Hill, Pennsylvania (United States)
This trail is one of the most entertaining that I have done in some time. It has a little of everything for everyone. It was marked as a hiking trail but it can be biked. I prefer to hike it to experience all that the trail has to offer, and there's a lot. If you do this trail I would advise starting in the early morning. Sections of the Great Allegheny Passage into McKeesport are devoid of foliage and the trail is paved. Also you’d need a lot of hydration. It can be done in a lot less time. My actual "moving time" was a lot less (about one and a half hours) than the "total time." I stopped along the banks of the Youghiogheny River in McKeesport, along sections of the Monongahela River in Baldwin Borough, had lunch at the Sunken Barges at Three Rivers, and hung out at Point State Park doing photography.
I started this relatively long walking/hiking trek at the corner of Forbes & Murray Avenues in Squirrel Hill at 40.43803°N and -79.92303°W. I walked along Murray Avenue and turned onto Hazelwood Avenue at 40.41972°N and -79.92814°W. You’d take Hazelwood Avenue only for a few metres onto Browns Hill Road at 40.41958°N and -79.92720°W. Small sections of Browns Hill Road does not have a sidewalk. This makes walking frightening as the traffic moves pretty quickly along this corridor. This leads directly to the Homestead Grays Bridge starting at 40.41273°N and -79.92125°W. This offers pretty good views of the Waterfront.
As you exit the bridge you must cross at the traffic lights to recover the sidewalk to head along West 5th Avenue at 40.40746°N and -79.91419°W. You can make a quick stop at “The Stacks” located at 40.40477°N and -79.91799°W. You pick up the Great Allegheny Passage Trail just beyond the corner of Waterfront Drive and West 5th Street at 40.40349°N and -79.91970°W. Initially you’d be following the section of the trail that’s heading due east.
You can opt to walk through the Waterfront Shopping Area and pick up the Pedestrian Bridge over West Waterfront Drive at 40.40833°N and -79.91770°W. The better part of this trek along the banks of the Monongahela River begins on the opposite side of that pedestrian bridge at 40.40885°N and -79.91837°W. Along the trail there’s a lot of restaurants and pubs. Most interesting are the views of the river. It’s not unusual to see Canada Geese and Beavers about the river.
The walking trail exits onto the sidewalk along East Waterfront Drive at 40.41440°N and -79.89960°W. It’s only a very short walk to the Homestead Labyrinth at 40.41421°N and -79.89825°W. There’s a lot to see, do, and reflect upon at this spot. If you’re lucky you may even see the train go along the labyrinth. The Great Allegheny Passage continues heading along East Waterfront Drive to the Rivers of Steel Pump House & Water Tower located at 40.41298°N and -79.89631°W. This was the site of the 1892 Battle of Homestead.
The Rivers of Steel Section of the Great Allegheny Passage begins just past Bristol Metal at 40.40754°N and -79.88854°W. This trail is very clearly marked and unfortunately it’s paved. It is also a shared trail so you would encounter many cyclists, walkers, joggers, and people walking dogs. I’ve been fortunate to see a few birds of prey, rabbits, and deer along this section of the trail. In fact, between the 136 and 137 mile markers you'd notice lots of birds of prey nests, including the bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus).
The trail goes under the Rankin Bridge at 40.40461°N and -79.88212°W. Unusually, there’s a bench placed there looking out at the river. You’re walking next to a very busy railroad at this point. The trail crosses the railway lines at the Whitaker Bridge at 40.40176°N and -79.87805°W. On the other side of this bridge you’d be crossing from the Munhall area into the West Mifflin area. Additionally you’re now some distance away from the banks of the river. Along this section of the trail there are a few picnic tables, benches, and a memorial for someone who died along the trail possibly. The upper banks are loose and when I traversed the trail this evening a section had given way sending very large rocks down the incline onto the trail.
You get a relatively good view of the Braddock Locks and Dam further along the trail. There are a couple of very small waterfalls along this section of the trail as well. The trail continues past the Kennywood Park Amusement Park at 40.38933°N and -79.86316°W. Just beyond there you’d find a martialling area for trail volunteers. It contains a water pump, air pump, and a portable washroom. In addition it has a small picnic area with a view of the river. The trail continues running just below but parallel to Commonwealth Avenue in the City of Duquesne. There is another railway crossing bridge located at 40.38259°N and -79.85376°W. There is a major road crossing at Grant Avenue at 40.37386°N and -79.84451°W. The trail then continues along what’s labelled as Braddock Historic Road past mostly warehousing facilities along South Linden Street. There’s a small picnic table just off the trail beyond the South Linden Street tunnel at 40.36356°N and -79.84200°W.
This trail continues under the South Duquesne Boulevard Bridge at 40.25998°N and -79.84522°W. The trail has its own crossing via the McKeesport Connecting Railroad Bridge at 40.35832°N and -79.84745°W. This is a lovely structure spanning the Monongahela River and affords very good views of the South Duquesne Boulevard Bridge, South Duquesne, and McKeesport. The bridge makes landfall on the McKeesport side of the Monongahela River at 40.35555°N and -79.84764°W. It continues onto Industry Road with a marked railway crossing at 40.35224°N and -79.86328°W. You’d turn right to continue along the Great Allegheny Passage Trail.
Be sure to make a stop at the J.F.K. Memorial Park at 40.35172°N and -79.86560°W and the Blue Star Memorial at 40.35149°N and -79.86718°W. The McKees Point Trail starts at 40.35138°N and -79.86915°W and proceeds right. It is a very short trail that ends at McKees Point at 40.35445°N and -79.86875°W. This point gives you a relatively good view of the start of the Youghiogheny River. Youghiogheny is a Lenape word meaning "a stream flowing in a contrary direction." I walked past the 132 mile GAP Trail Marker and turned left onto Market Street and then right onto Lysle Boulevard. I picked up the GAP Trail again at the Blue Star Memorial. Just follow the trail right back to Homestead to start the other leg into Pittsburgh.
You’d pick up the Three Rivers Heritage Trail along Sandcastle Drive at 40.40327°N and -79.91964°W just outside Costco. You’d cross Sandcastle Drive at 40.40197°N and -79.92121°W. This section of the trail is extremely narrow and there’s really nothing of interest. There’s also an incredible amount of cyclists along here. The trail goes below the Glenwood Bridge at 40.39480°N and -79.93502°W. There’s the Hays Bald Eagle Nest Viewpoint at 40.39474°N and -79.93855°W. A section of the trail near here also floods so care should be taken in rainy weather. Beyond the Hays Bald Eagle Nest Viewpoint the trail improves substantially. It’s a lovely trail skirting along the majestic Monongahela River. I strongly suggest making a stop at the sunken barges along the river at 40.40583°N and -79.95023°W. Beck’s run flows into the Monongahela River at 40.41132°N and -79.95469°W and there’s a trail leading right to the river. The Three River Heritage Trail has a few vantage points that offers exceptional views of the Monongahela River, one such spot is located off South Water Street at 40.42462°N and -79.95886°W. From here you get a really good view of the Hot Metal Bridge. There’s a monument at 40.42721°N and -79.96202°W that’s worth some attention. You’re going to cross Hot Metal Street & South Water Street at 40.42718°N and -79.96247°W to continue onto the pedestrian bridge. The Three Rivers Heritage Trail continues along the south side here and it is clearly labelled.
Cross Hot Metal Bridge and turn left at 40.43011°N and -79.95770°W to head along the Eliza Furnace Trail into downtown Pittsburgh and to Point State Park. Unfortunately there’s not much to see along this section of the trail and it’s a concrete and steel jungle but the reward is at the end. Be sure to walk across the historic Smithfield Street Bridge at 40.43635°N and -80.0008°W. It’s quite the experience and a historical structure. The Three Rivers Heritage Trail continues on the Southside as well but I walked back along the Smithfield Street Bridge to go to Point State Park.
Point State Park is usually very crowded on sunny days so plan to get there early. The monument is located at 40.44189°N and -80.01322°W. This is the point where the Monongahela River converges with the Allegheny River and becomes the Ohio River. There’s plenty to see and do in this park.
From here you’d retrace your steps back along the Eliza Furnace Trail right to the trailhead in the Greenfield area at 40.42600°N and -79.95318°W.Just follow the trail to Greenfield Avenue at 40.42499°N and -79.95208°W and proceed heading left along Saline Street. You’re going to pick up the Junction Hollow Trail just under the bridge for the Penn-Lincoln Parkway and Proctor’s Garage. Today I thought that this trek was long enough and resisted Schenley Park. I followed the Junction Hollow Trail from 40.42915°N and -79.94958°W. This goes through Panther Hollow along Boundary Street. Turn left onto Yarrow Way at 40.43977°N and -79.95087°W and then left onto Joncaire Street at 40.44042°N and -79.95243°W. From here I turned right onto South Bouquet Street at 40.44048°N and -79.95367°W and then right onto Roberto Clemente Street at 40.44084°N and -79.95431°W. I took Schenley Drive at 40.44181°N and -79.95270°W and then Forbes Avenue at 40.44313°N and -79.95355°W. This led back to the starting point of the trek.
This waypoint just marks the start of the trek and is located at the corner of Forbes and Murray Avenues in Squirrel Hill.
This waypoint sits at the corner of Murray and Hazelwood Avenues
This waypoint sits at the start of the Homestead Grays Bridge
This waypoint sits at the Stacks
This waypoint sits at the Waterfront Shopping Area.
This waypoint sits at the Pedestrian Bridge crossing Waterfront Drive to get to the Trailhead
This waypoint sits at the Great Allegheny Passage Trailhead past the Waterfront
This waypoint sits at Homestead Labyrinth
This waypoint sits at the Pump House
This waypoint sits at the Steel Valley section Trailhead
This waypoint sits under the Rankin Bridge
This waypoint sits at the Whitaker Bridge
This waypoint sits at the first of two small waterfalls along this section of the trail.
This waypoint sits at the second of two small waterfalls along this section of the trail.
This waypoint sits at the Ronald Vahosky Memorial
This waypoint sits just behind Kennywood Park
This waypoint sits at the viewing area of the Braddock Locks and Dam.
This waypoint sits at the GAP Trail Waterstop
This waypoint sits at the GAP Trail Repair Stop
This waypoint sits at the Port Perry Bridge.
This waypoint sits at Grant Avenue in Duquesne
This waypoint sits at the South Linden Street Tunnel
This waypoint sits under the South Duquesne Boulevard Bridge
This waypoint sits at the McKeesport Railroad Crossing Bridge
This waypoint sits at the first of two platforms on the Monongahela River.
This waypoint sits at the second of two platforms on the Monongahela River.
This waypoint sits at the Railroad Crossing along the GAP Trail into McKeesport
This waypoint sits at the J.F.K. Memorial
This waypoint sits at the Blue Star Memorial
This waypoint sits at the McKees Point Trailhead
This waypoint sits at McKees Point
This waypoint sits at the Richard J Gergely Riverfront Park
This waypoint sits at the 132 Mile Marker along the GAP Trail
This waypoint sits at the Steel Valley Trailhead
This waypoint sits at a small section of the trail that has a Flood Risk
This waypoint sits at the Eagle Viewing Area
This waypoint sits at the entrance to Baldwin Borough
This waypoint sits at a really good Panorama Spot
This waypoint sits at the Sunken Barges by Three Rivers
This waypoint sits at one of the trails to the River
This waypoint sits at the Jennifer McGregor Memorial Bench
This waypoint sits at the first trail to the river along Water Street.
This waypoint sits at the second trail to the river along Water Street.
This waypoint sits at the Steel Workers Monument
This waypoint sits at the Hot Metal Pedestrian Bridge
This waypoint sits at the intersection of the Three Rivers and Eliza Furnace Trails
This waypoint sits at the Eliza Furnace Trailhead in Pittsburgh
This waypoint sits at the Grant Street Crossing into Pittsburgh