Pittsburgh-Washington bicycle trail now complete


Scenic network of industrial heritage bicycle trails awaits Pittsburgh area visitors.

Pittsburgh-Washington bicycle trail now complete

Pittsburgh-Washington bicycle trail now complete

By Peter H. Milliken



This city is celebrating this month the completion of the final mile of the 335-mile bicycle trail link between its Golden Triangle and Washington, D.C.

The final mile was finished at Sandcastle Water Park in May, and the celebration of its completion will be Saturday, with a 10 a.m. ribbon cutting at Sandcastle and an 11 a.m. bicycle ride from Sandcastle to Point State Park, where a trail marker will be unveiled at 1 p.m.

The trail segment at Sandcastle Water Park is part of the 150-mile-long Great Allegheny Passage — or GAP — between Pittsburgh and Cumberland, Md.

From Cumberland to Washington, cyclists use the 185-mile-long C&O Canal Towpath trail.

The two trails constitute one of the nation’s best-known long-distance bicycle trail routes.

Finishing the GAP is significant, not only to long-distance cyclists, but also to those who might be visiting the Pittsburgh area for a one-day trip featuring cycling along its rivers.

In the Pittsburgh area, the GAP is part of a 24-mile network of riverfront bicycle trails, known as the Three Rivers Heritage Trail.

The trails and the bridges connecting them offer spectacular views of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers, Pittsburgh’s downtown skyline and most of Pittsburgh’s major landmarks.

One of the bridges offering such a view is the Hot Metal Bridge, a former railroad bridge that served the steel industry. That bridge carries the GAP over the Monongahela River three miles upriver from Point State Park, where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers meet to form the Ohio River.

Signs along the trails inform visitors of the area’s rich heritage, including its canal, railroad and river transportation history and the history of its steel and other industries and immigrant labor.

The GAP passes along the Monongahela River through what is now a retail complex in Homestead, known as The Waterfront. There, cyclists can see remnants of the steel industry, including the pump house, smokestacks and a giant gantry crane that belonged to the Homestead Works of U.S. Steel.

Besides the GAP, the Three Rivers Heritage Trail includes:

The North Side Trail, which follows the Allegheny and Ohio rivers from Millvale through Pittsburgh.

The South Side Trail, which runs from the Duquesne Incline up the Monongahela River to the Hot Metal Bridge.

The Strip District Trail, which runs from Point State Park up the Allegheny River to the Strip District.

The Panther Hollow Trail to the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.

For information on the Great Allegheny Passage, go to GAPtrail.org.

For more information on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, go to www.friendsoftheriverfront.org.

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