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near North Shore, Pennsylvania (United States)
I started this very interesting trek from “The Point” at Point State Park in downtown Pittsburgh. The western terminus of the Great Allegheny Passage sits at 40.44190°N and -80.01323°W and is clearly labelled. This park is a must see and it hosts several attractions of historical significance to the United States of America.
Walk along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail along the banks of the Monongahela River out of the downtown area. Sections of this trail heading towards the Monongahela Wharf Landing at the Mon Wharf parking area are single lane and is shared with cyclists. The Monongahela Wharf Landing area is also quite scenic so stop and take a few pictures or just stop for a moment and sit under a tree and look at the trains go by along the South Shore.
You’d take the historic and very architecturally elegant Smithfield Street Bridge at 40.43639°N and -80.00101°W. I’ve crossed this bridge many times and it always warrants a couple pictures. From this bridge there are very good views of the Pittsburgh skyline and Station Square. Get off at West Carson Street at 40.43211°N and -80.00381°W and turn right to get to the historic Monongahela Incline. This is located at roughly 40.43258°N and -80.00475°W. It is one of the oldest operational inclines in the United States. It costs $2.75 one way and you pay at the upper station on Grandview Avenue. You get great views of the Pittsburgh area from the incline as it makes its way along. There is an option just to walk along the P.J. McArdle Roadway if you desire.
The Upper Station is located at 5 Grandview Avenue at 40.43125°N and -80.00606°W and has an observation deck, the Patrick T. Fagan Overlook at 40.43156°N and -80.00660°W. It’s usually very busy out there most days so get there early to avoid the crowds. It has very clear views of the Pittsburgh skyline. You can see out well past the Oakland area. Make a stop at the Shiloh Street shops located at 40.43162°N and -80.00648°W. This is a small shopping area with a lot of restaurants, pubs, souvenir shops, ice cream shops, and so on. Make a lunch of dinner reservation while you're there! Do the trail and come back for supper.
There are a couple other overlooks along Grandview Avenue. One is located at 40.43232°N and -80.00806°W and the Paul F. Jones Overlook at 40.43377°N and -80.01033°W. The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is located along Grandview Avenue at 40.43367°N and -80.01038°W and is one of the older libraries in Pittsburgh. The Grandview overlook is located at 40.43445°N and -80.01141°W just past Bertha Street. Just beyond this is the St. Mary of the Mount Church at 40.43461°N and -80.01162°W. It is closed because of the current pandemic but worth poking around at.
Follow Grandview Avenue past the intersection with the P.J. McArdle Roadway & Merrimac Street. This section of Grandview Avenue hosts a few fine dining establishments that offer good food and views of the Pittsburgh skyline. The next stop along Grandview Avenue would be the Duquesne Incline Upper Station. This is located at 40.43821°N and -80.01901°W. It is also a historic inline and hosts a museum in its upper station. There’s also an onsite observation deck that gives a very nice view of the Pittsburgh skyline and the three rivers. The cost is the same as that of the Monongahela Incline.
Follow Grandview Avenue right to Point of View Park located at 40.43924°N and -80.02134°W. This also gives a unique view of the Pittsburgh skyline and has the George Washington sculpture. The Emerald View Trail trailhead starts not too far from this sculpture at 40.43923°N and -80.02138°W and is clearly visible as a coarse gravel footpath heading downhill in the direction of the Ohio River.
In my opinion, this trail system is the best that the Pittsburgh area has to offer. It is mostly challenging, offers good views of the area, has a lot of varying gradients, an abundance of wildlife, and it’s mostly a hiking trail. Mount Washington was once known as “Coal Hill” and there are a lot of abandoned mines in the area along these trails. In fact, 92% of the land has been undermined. The groundwater flowing through these abandoned mines are acidic as it dissolves metals such as iron, aluminium, and manganese from the exposed mine surfaces. You’ll pass several of these small springs along the trail but caution not to consume the water.
The Emerald View Trail forks into the George & Guy Trail and the Expedition Trail at 40.44144°N and -80.02868°W. Take the George & Guy Trail leading to Horner Street. The other trail is just a short access trail along Lizardi Way. So the trail crosses Greenleaf Street and becomes the Greenleaf Trail at 40.44039°N and -80.03073°W. Keep in mind that the labelling is misleading because signposts still mark it as the Emerald View Trail. This is an exceptional trail system that is of varying gradient and has an access point at Greenleaf Street at 40.43814°N and -80.03050°W. It forks into the Fort Schultz Trail at 40.43682°N and -80.03060°W. This secondary trail is short and worth exploring.
The Greenleaf Trail exits at Fingal & Republic Streets at 40.43631°N and -80.02734°W. From here several options exist. You can take Republic Street back to Grandview Avenue in a loop without having to traverse the trail network again or you can re-enter the trail and take either the Clarence Connector Trail or the Augusta Connector Trail. These are very short trails that allow access from Clarence and Augusta Streets respectively. They both go to Greenleaf Street and ultimately to Grandview Avenue. You can, however, take them as far as Well Street and then to go Sweetbriar Street at 40.43579°N and -80.02227°W. At the end of Sweetbriar Street is the Emerald View Park Trail access point 40.43159°N and -80.02309°W that loops back to Hallock Street at 40.42979°N and -80.01953°W. There is another secondary trail labelled the Turkey Run trail that I very highly recommend. It’s not long but offers good gradients, lots of wildlife, and great views. This trail forks off the Emerald View Trail between 40.42944°N and -80.02194°W and 40.42939°N and -80.01997°W.
The trail network continues to Olympia Park and Mt. Washington Park for those that may be interested in exploring the area further. Walk with lot of water, a camera, and insect repellent. This one does require good footwear that offers lots of traction, especially if it is raining or rained prior to your trek.
This waypoint sits at the terminus of the Great Allegheny Passage Trail at "the point" in downtown Pittsburgh in Point State Park.
This waypoint sits along the Mon Wharf Landing.
This waypoint sits at the historic Smithfield Street Bridge.
This waypoint sits at the Monongahela Incline Lower Station on East Carson Street.
This waypoint sits at the Monongahela Incline Upper Station on Grandview Avenue.
This waypoint sits at the Patrick T. Fagan Overlook.
This waypoint sits at the Paul F. Jones Overlook.
This waypoint sits at the Thomas A. Gallagher Overlook.
This waypoint sits at the historic Duquesne Incline.
This waypoint sits at the Points Of View Monument.
This waypoint sits at the fork of the Emerald View Trail and the Expedition Trail.
This waypoint sits at the fork of the Expedition Trail Trailhead.
This waypoint sits at the Horner Street Crossing of the Emerald View Trail.
This waypoint sits at the fork of the Emerald View Trail and an unmarked overlook. You should exercise EXTREME CAUTION if venturing out along this path and do not attempt this in rainy weather,
This waypoint sits at the fork of the Emerald View Trail and the Wyola Street entrance to the park.
This waypoint sits at the fork of the Emerald View Trail and the Republic Connector Trail
This waypoint sits at the Republic Connector Trailhead
This waypoint sits at the fork of the Emerald View Trail and a major street crossing.
This waypoint sits at the fork of the Emerald View Trail and the Clarence Connector Trail.
This waypoint sits at Clarence Connector Trail Trailhead.
This waypoint sits at the fork of the Emerald View Trail and the Augusta Connector Trail.
This waypoint sits at the Augusta Connector Trail Trailhead
This waypoint sits at the fork of the Emerald View Trail and the Oneida Connector Trail
This waypoint sits at the Oneida Connector Trail Trailhead
This waypoint sits at the fork of the Emerald View Trail and the Turkey Run Trail Loop
This waypoint sits at the fork of the Emerald View Trail and the Turkey Run Trail Loop
This waypoint sits at the fork of the Emerald View Trail Trailhead at Hallock Street.
This waypoint sits at one of the Mine Run Offs along the Turkey Run Trail Loop