• Michael DiBartolomeo

Bike Trails in Pittsburgh

When you think about the 4434 miles (over 7000 km) of trails in and around the city of Pittsburgh, PA, it should come as no surprise that cyclists from across the country often flock to the area. There is also a strong bike culture amongst Pittsburghers, with many clubs, organizations, and competitive meets.


If anything, cyclists in Pittsburgh are spoiled for choice. Having so many options can make it tough to narrow down and decide where to head to first. To help get you started, this guide scratches the surface of a few of the most popular and well-loved biking trails considered as must-dos for any cyclist passing through.


The Montour Trail


Attracting more than 400,000 bikes and riders every year, the Montour Trail is not only historically significant but also something of a right of passage for Pittsburgh Cyclists. The 47 miles (75 km) long trail was once a railroad carrying coal and steel for a little over 100 years. Nowadays, this section of the Great Allegheny Passage is a great place for a long, peaceful bike ride. The trail is mainly flat, making it accessible for cyclists of all levels.


Three Rivers Heritage Trail


Right in the heart of the city, you can follow the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. One of the best-known trails in the area, this route combines the best of the bustling city with tranquil woodlands and dramatic sloping terrain. Based around the three rivers that make up Pittsburgh- Alleghany, Ohio, and Monongahela- the primary dirt path crosses some of the most important historic bridges, and winds through several of the best-loved parks.


Open to hikers and bikers alike, this multi-purpose trail makes for an excellent day out, especially if you stop off along the way to enjoy all the city has to offer.


Eliza Furnace Trail


Looking for a quick urban cycle? At just under six miles (roughly nine and a half km), the Eliza Furnace trail is perfect for a short morning workout or leisurely cycle around the city. It passes through some of the stunning gardens and parks in the center, where many people enjoy stopping off and spending some time. The difficulty is low and the route well mapped out and void of heavy traffic, making it a great option for beginners or family bike rides.


The Panhandle Trail


For a longer route, the Panhandle Trail is an interesting option. The primary route is 30 miles (almost 50 km) but there are a few alternative cut-offs you can take to extend or shorten. There is a small but steady incline for a fair portion of the second half of the route and some sections travel over a crushed limestone terrain, so be ready for a little bit of hard work. If people are looking for an enjoyable challenge to push themselves a little further, the Panhandle Trail is perfect. Pack a day bag with a picnic and plenty of water and cycle until your heart is content.


The Ghost Town Trail


Something a little different, the Ghost Town Trail is potentially one of the very best for cycling in the Pittsburgh area. Ride along hidden tracks to discover lost parts of history and remnants of a forgotten time. The scenery and surroundings are inspiring and nostalgic, which only add to the enjoyment of the ride.


The route is 36 miles (58 km) with an optional cut-off trail to add another 10 if you want to push it a little further. The incline is not too steep, but it is consistent, so a good fitness level goes a long way for this particular trail.


The Butler Freeport Community Trail


A bike ride for nature lovers, the Butler Freeport Community Trail winds through acres of open woodlands, rocky outcrops, and trickling creeks and streams that you could enjoy a nice boat ride on as well. In Summer, the trail is predominantly sheltered by the towering trees that surround it, letting only a few beams of sunlight stream through and warm brighten the road.


There are plenty of rest spots along the 20-mile trail (32 km one way) but not many amenities, so it is worthwhile taking snacks and supplies with you. Because of the picturesque nature surrounding you, combining the bike ride with a picnic can turn it into a special day out.


City Bike Racks


For visitors planning on bringing their bike to the city, it is worth knowing about the bike rack system. Pittsburgh is a bike-friendly community. To encourage it there are city-wide bike stops with racks where you can register your bike and lock it, with a little extra protection. By registering your bike through the Bike Index, you have back up on hand if your bike goes missing.


Summary


Pittsburgh is one of those cities you can hop on a bike and cycle just about anywhere to find a pretty and enjoyable route to follow, but some have that little something extra. It would take a long time to cover them all, but the few on this list are a great place to start.


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