Your Active City just started offering active walking and biking tours of Pittsburgh this summer. Owner Sara Petyk is a boomerang Pittsburgher who returned to the city in 2009 and she’s excited to show it off to visitors and residents alike. We recently had the opportunity to ask Sara about the bike trails around Downtown, and the value they bring. She has some great savings tips you won’t want to miss! (And speaking of savings, Your Active City is offering a 30% discount until September 30th exclusively through Living Pittsburgh!)
In your opinion, what’s the best deal in Pittsburgh?
To me, the Three Rivers Heritage trails are the best deal in Pittsburgh. They’re used by bikers, joggers, walkers, rollerbladers, those people on those weird three-wheel scooter things, everyone! Any given Saturday or Sunday morning you see families and friends out enjoying the day, on weekday afternoons people are exercising, I use it just to commute to town; it’s really a trail for everyone…
So where to do you get on the trail?
I think this is one of the biggest barriers to more people using the trails, we just don’t know where to access them! There actually are more than 20 miles of paved or crushed gravel trail around the city and it is easy to get on them once you know how.
There are two main “loops” of trails, one follows the Allegheny River and one the Monongahela River. On the Mon side, you can access the trail in many spots including the Southside Works, Station Square, and 1st Avenue(Downtown)(http://bit.ly/bKCRr7). On the Allegheny side, the trail runs right in front of the stadiums on the North Shore ,through Washington’s Landing, and soon the trails along the Downtown side will be fully accessible from Point State Park up to the Convention Center and beyond.
We know the trails system is free, but are there any hidden deals we may be missing?
I love telling people about this! FREE PARKING. This is the best deal by far. You can park for free at the end of the Eliza Furnace trail near Greenfield on Swineburn Rd off of 2ndAvenue (close to the Hot Metal Bridge every day! To access the North Shore trail, you can park free in public lots right on Washington’s Landing. There are a few other free parking lots (including the Southside Riverfront Park at the end of 18th St), but these are my favorites.
Now the best deal of all is this – the Second Avenue Plaza parking lot (http://bit.ly/dbWIRY) just beyond the new jail is open for free parking on weekends and evenings. This is a fabulous way to access all the trails on the weekends and even to go into town. During the 4th of July fireworks, we zipped in, parked in the lot, walked to see the fireworks, walked back and were out of the city in less than 10 minutes. No traffic!
What itinerary would you suggest for the trails?
For a completely free day, I say go to the North Shore trail and walk/bike along the river. Take some time to relax on the grass in front of the stadiums and enjoy whatever games/activities/regattas are going on. Walk up to the fountain and dip you feet in. If you still have the energy, walk up the Ft. Duquesne bridge for a great view of Heinz Field, the Ohio River and the Point.
For a little bit of money, I say bike the North Shore trail, cross the 16th Street bridge and get into the Strip. Stop for a snack at Enrico’s or 21stSt Coffee (or grab lunch at Chicken Latino). Then bike through Pittsburgh and back up the Ft. Duquesne bridge. Either switch over to kayaks at Kayak Pittsburgh or bike back up to Washington’s Landing and enjoy a vacation-like drink and app at Redfin Blues (I enjoyed a steamed shrimp and Corona combination that made me feel like I was at the shore).
Any other great finds along the trails?
For those that don’t know, if you ride the Southside Trail toward the Hot Metal Bridge and beyond, past Springhill Suites, you’ll be at the Steelers practice field. It can be interesting to bike past the Steelers at practice. I also see Coach Wannstedt on the trails there all the time in his Pitt sweatshirt, doesn’t he get hot in that!?
Also, the view of Pittsburgh at sunset on the Hot Metal Bridge is not to be missed.
So, I haven’t biked in 10 years! Can I ride these trails?
Absolutely! I would classify all the trails as “Easy” and almost the entire length is motor traffic-free. The most difficult sections of trail are the ramps up the bridges, so if you have to just walk it just relax and enjoy the view.
It’s so rare in our area to find long stretches of flat trail, these are great places to learn or re-learn how to ride!
I have kids… can they ride with me?
Sure, no problem. There are a lot more options now for kids to bike with their families than just a seat on the back of your bike. Many parents use the “bobs” or carts you can attach to the back of any bike for young kids. This keeps them completely safe and they can enjoy the ride too (use a helmet on all children, even inside the bob). Older kids can ride a “tagalong” which is like an extra seat and tube that attaches to your bike. They get the sense of pedaling but you’re doing most of the work, so they won’t tire out until you do! Finally, like I said, these are great trails to teach your child to ride on. They’re wide, flat, and without car traffic you can feel safe as they learn.
I want to try these out but I don’t have a bike.
You can rent bikes from Golden Triangle Bike Rental (www.bikepittsburgh.com) as well as bobs and/or tagalongs for the kids. Just visit their website for locations and information.
Sara Petyk, owner of Your Active City, combines her love of history and her years of experience as a tourism professional to lend a unique experience to everyone who takes her tours. She enjoys sharing her insiders perspective and guiding people through her fascinating hometown.
“Whether I’m walking the streets or biking along the riverfronts, I never fail to be amazed by the remarkable natural beauty, the dramatic architecture, and the great people that call Pittsburgh home.”