Montour Trail – New Section Opening and Ride
A ceremony for the opening of new section of the Montour Trail will be held on Saturday, 7/13/13 at 1 PM. It is a relatively short section of trail but involved a number of obstacles to overcome, and it is the middle of the summer and people are busy, but it is important to have people there.
I am proposing a ride to tour several sections of the Montour Trail, attend the ceremony, and get some miles in. If you can make it you will be welcome. You may reply via this forum. The Montour Trail Council also has two Yahoo message forums, referred to below.
Group Ride to the Opening Ceremony on 7/13/13
Meet at the Park and Ride, Route 51 in Large, PA at 11:45 AM on Saturday
7/13/13. Ride leaves at 12 Noon, sharp!
Ride 6.2 miles to the ceremony at Triphammer Road, which begins at 1 PM.
No later than 2 PM, riders can either return to the Park and Ride Lot (12.4
miles, roundtrip) or can go on to Valley Brook Road to see the new bridge
To VB is an additional 8.5-9 miles and will include a brief road detour around
the Sugar Camp Road project. The ride will then return to the Park and Ride Lot
via the same route, for a total of approximately 30 miles. There can be a stop
at Farmhouse Coffee on the way back.
RSVP via this forum or to me personally, via that option below. Please indicate
all of your preferences, i.e., the short ride, the longer ride, Farmhouse
Coffee, a good craft beer somewhere (will entertain any good suggestions).
I’ve been through there a few times, this new Triphammer section is totally awesome. It obviates the need for an unfriendly road segment and replaces it with a truly beautiful scenic trail.
The Valleybrook Road segment is a tremendous improvement in safety, the previous brief on-road segment involved a blind curve and descending cars (westbound). This is sooooo much safer and nicer. I know that eventually there’s going to be a bridge across VB-Road, but this incremental upgrade is so awesome, they can take whatever time they need. Can’t say enough about it.
What is the surface like in these areas? Someday I’ll get a more trail-worthy ride, but in the meantime I’m on 25s…
Crushed limestone that packs real hard and some paved areas. Very road bike friendly. You’re good.
Well, there’s that stretch past the trail interchange (+15 miles from the Ohio) that dwindles down to a dirt track. It’s actually one of the nicer bits of the trail.
One time, I passed a guy on a road bike (and in full Fred regalia) sunk to the spokes in the mud (at ~11 mile?). It will get muddy. But: if the previous days did not feature heavy rainfalls you should be ok.
I would do the trail on a bike with 1.5″ / 26″ tires. But you don’t need that. 35mm is fine and 28mm can get you through the worse.
@justray and I will almost certainly be joining you to the Triphammer ceremony. Assuming it’s not 100 degrees and horrible out, we will go along to Valley Brook Road as well. We’ve been looking for an opportunity to hit the Montour Trail–yay!
To “@justRay & joanne”, it will be great to have you along. Will look for you in the park and ride lot. Looks like a typical Pittsburgh summer day, in the mid-80’s, and humidity down a bit. We might get to see the aftermath of the high waters in the Piney Forks area. Dave Oyler said there was not too much storm damage that he could see.
To “ahlir”, we won’t be anywhere that part of the trail on this ride. We’ll be starting at approximately MP 44, which is the complete opposite side of the trail. There is quite a bit of paved trail and road in the area that we will be riding. The area of the opening ceremony is new trail, which is crushed limestone. A preliminary damage assessment from Dave Oyler, the architect of that section and South Park area monitor, was that there was some minor damage but not enough to close the trail or to delay the ceremony. As I said earlier, most of the riding that we will be doing on Saturday is on paved roads and trail. Hope you can join us.
The area of which you were speaking is called McAdams, a little patch town between McDonald and North Fayette. It has been improved so that you will no longer find that narrow muddy section. I kind of liked that also because it reminded me of the C&O Canal Towpath, but the trail maintenance crew widened it and placed some new limestone so now it is more friendly to all types of users.
@fultonco: I’m familiar with the Triphammer stretch; I’ve always found it a bit trying. I’m really glad it got fixed. My own wish had been that they would somehow reopen what I figured was the tunnel and let the trail rejoin the track bed on the other side.
A couple of other things around there: go the other direction and you’ll hit some South Park playing fields but no water that I could find (what is with that?). Further east, at Snowden, you can go through the barrier towards PA.42 and find a tunnel, the far end half buried by the highway embankment.
It wound be nice if we didn’t have to climb up to Triphammer, but there’s no tunnel to reopen. When the railroad was there, it ran in a cut, and Triphammer Road crossed over it on a wooden bridge. After the railroad left, vandals set the bridge on fire repeatedly, eventually burning it down, and the township decided that it would be cheaper to fill in the cut the railroad had used with earth, instead of building a new bridge. This was in the mid-80s, a few years before the trail.
So undoing that would require closing Triphammer, excavating out a flat trail surface again, and building a new car bridge for Triphammer. I assume that’s way too expensive for the trail.
I agree the water’s a problem. Right now the closest drinking fountain to the Clairton end at MP 46 is in Peterswood Park, at MP 32.9 (or the drinking fountain near McMurray at MP 32.2, which is a bit closer closer to the trail). Hopefully as they build more of the trail in that area they’ll be able to add another one.
The second tunnel near Snowden, with one end closed off, is used to store road salt (and possibly a ghost). Perhaps someday they could reopen it for trail use.
I find that the Large Hotel is very nice about filling water bottles.
Also, there’s the convenience store around the corner from the trail, CoGos at 2800 Brownsville Road (if I got the right address) It’s at the intersection with the yellow-blinky-LED lights to warn the cars about the bikes.
Another place that’s wonderful about filling water bottles (warning shameless plug) is my fave indy coffee shop, FarmHouse Coffee, MP32ish.
That one-lane, two-direction, blind curves on both sides tunnel thing is kind of freaky.
I may see yinz there, if I go I’ll probably start at McDonald or maybe the new bike shop at Morganza Rd and ride counter-clock-wise. I still haven’t figured out Friday let alone planned Saturday. cheers V
The partially hidden tunnel, with the road salt stored in it, was acquired by South Park Township years ago. I believe it was originally part of the Montour RR. So far, they have been resistant to parting with it. We’ll see what happens down the road.
The current road tunnel at Piney Forks does leave a lot to be desired. Usually, there is not much traffic but with more bicyclists now using the trail, those days are coming to an end.
While riding in Oregon some years back, we approached a tunnel that had a button for cyclists to push. When we did, a message board with flashing lights was activated on both sides. They stayed on for 5 minutes or so, alerting drivers to the presence of bicycles in the tunnel. It was pretty cool. Oregon had this back in at least 1981! Why did I ever come back? That type of signal would work very well at Piney Forks (Snowden).
Regarding the water situation or lack thereof, yes, the CoGo’s would prove to be a good mid-point oasis between MP 32 – 46. I would guess its location to be at approximately MP 38 or 39. Otherwise, you are right, there is not too much else in the area. Whether there will be more water access in years to come, I do not know. Personally, I’d like to see a good craft beer and acoustic cafe at trailside somewhere along the Montour. Have you ever been to the Winking Lizard along the Cuyahoga Trail?
There are also quite a few establishments in Library, as you pass through on one of the unfinished sections of the trail along Route 88. I have seen bicyclists stopping at the Rite-Aid or the Tasty Freeze place. Both are essentially under the Library Trestle.
Farmhouse coffee is a nice place. I plan to stop there on the way back. They have one of those decorative plaques on the wall that says, “I’ll have a cafe, mocha, vodka, xanax latte, please.” Good to know about the Large Hotel also being bike friendly.
For the reasons mentioned, I don’t think we’ll see excavation of the filled cut at Triphammer Road any time soon. On the brighter side, it is a very short hill.
Hope to see you all tomorrow.
Just saw on twitter that a lot of this trail was damaged by the flooding Wed. They said they expect most of the debris to be cleared by Saturday, but there would still be a lot of washed-out and rutted areas. They suggest cyclists to be especially cautious.
The SE portion, that we will be riding, has the least amount of damage. That is because, most of it is on roads and/or otherwise paved. The further West you go on the trail ( west of Peters Township and toward Coraopolis) one will encounter more damaged sections.
> Subject: Friday July 12 Report of Trail Status from Clairton to Gil Hall Road
> Hello MTC E&C members:
> I am reporting my findings about the Montour Trail status in the Clairton and Jefferson Hills region as of Friday, noontime, July 12.
> The trail for bicylcing from Clairton to Gil Hall road will be open Saturday morning.
> Large, PA to Clairton –
> 1. Two short lengths (total of about 100 feet) of macadam were lifted away but the trail is perfectly usable.
> 2. About 3 washouts (stone and mud covering trail) and 3 tree crossings were cleared by the Clairton Municipal Sewer Authority today.
> 3. Two manhole covers were replaced by Jefferson Hills maintenance.
> 4. One washout in front of the trail gate past the Park and Ride is still present across the access rode but does not affect the bicycle trail.
> Large, PA to Gil Hall Road along Peters Creek road –
> 1. Several washouts on road which are being cleared by Jefferson Hills maintenance department.
> 2. One location on the road will have only one lane traffic which will be open tomorrow for bicycles and possibly cars.
> Respectfully submitted,
> Doug Ettinger
Re: adding a message board to the Piney Fork tunnel
I recall reading that the ancient tunnel (which carries Piney Fork itself as well as the road) didn’t comply with current federal flood rules (the stream floods the road too often because its channel is too small). It was grandfathered in, but making improvements to it for cyclists would require bringing it up to current standards, widening it, presumably. The railroad (owner of the tunnel) naturally doesn’t want to spend that money.
I have no idea if a message board would trigger that though.
I kinda like the tunnel. Cars honk when approaching it, and often the whole way through, going very slowly. It’s as if this is that rare spot where drivers are just as worried about collisions as cyclists are all the time.
Thanks for your very informative posts, fultonco.
Just wanted to say thanks for putting this together. It was a lovely day to go riding with friends.
And thanks to all the hard working volunteers who make these trails possible!
It was terrific that you all came out for the ride and to attend the ceremony. Our group definitely added some bicycles and “color” to the event, that I am sure was appreciated by Montour Trail Council and various township, county, state and national political representatives who were there. Bike Pittsburgh was well-represented.
It was a great day to ride and an excellent crew with whom to ride. I enjoyed the Farmhouse Coffee stop and the after-ride visit to OTB.
Good day, good riding, and good company !
See you down the road.
Yes, thank you so much! It was a wonderful, wonderful ride and post-ride with friends old and new! I look forward to exploring more of the trail soon. :)
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