Getting to Kennywood by bike

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stefb
Participant
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I assume there is still no way to get up to the park entrance from the trail. I think I asked this question before. Just wondering if I were to take the trail past kennywood and then make a right onto 837, i can get there with less traffic than taking 837 all the way from homestead?


reddan
Keymaster
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Less distance in traffic, but I find the traffic on that side of the hill faster and with a narrower shoulder. Coming up from Homestead, the shoulder is nice and wide once you get past the Rankin Bridge.


Mikhail
Member
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Nope.

We rode several times 5th from Costco to Homestead Bridge (make a right on a sidewalk) to 8th, right away to 7th, 8th, Forest, W Run, Main, Vondeza, Duquesne Ave, Homestead Duquesne Rd (nice climb), left Commonwealth. We took right at Homeville but if you pass intersection and continue on Commowealth (we did it once all the to 837 by error) and make a left onto Hoffman then you should be in.

Or you can get trail all the way to Duquesne Grant Ave, Homestead Dequesne RD, right at Commonwealth and left at Hoffman.


sew
Participant
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I’m not terribly familiar with that area but can you go past Kennywood where the trail comes out to 837 (about a mile past) and come back on side walk on the other side. Not optimal but I don’t think you will run into too many pedestrians that way.


Marko82
Participant
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First, there is no good way to get there. Otherwise I agree with reddan that the stretch of 837 from the rankin bridge is preferable to the stretch from duquesne.

I’ve heard rumors that there is a trail on the far side of the first bike bridge (past the rankin bridge) that will connect you up to 837. I’ve heard its 90% passible on a road bike too, you would just want to be careful entering the roadway at the top of the driveway because its right where the car ramp going under the rankin bridge is and they will be going fast. This would be a great way to get onto the rankin bridge too, or so I’ve heard.


Andrew
Participant
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Not sure the direction your coming from but, from the waterfront trail…

-Go over the fly over ramp at the one end of the waterfront.
-Continue up the hill from the rankin bridge. It’s a good climb but, there is ample shoulder almost the entire way.
-Make your way to the Kennywood parking lot.
-Eat Potato Patch fries to replenish those much needed calories!

(the way back has ample shoulder most of the way too)


Vannevar
Participant
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Re Marko’s well-informed mystery ramp: if you were southeast on the trail, rode past Marcegagagagagalia Metals, rode onto the paved trail, rode across the Whitaker Flyover and then stopped while still on the flat top of the Whitaker Flyover–

you would see a scrubby ersatz used-to-be path moving away from the trail, sort of opposite direction and back up to the Rankin Bridge. It’s not a very nice path, it’s not rideable. It’s definitely not rideable. It’s walkable, and you lift your bike over some down trees.

The only advantage to taking this kludge route is you get to skip the hill from the Waterfront exit ramp to the Rankin Bridge. To me, it’s a minor benefit and not worth the trouble, cause I don’t know how to identify poison ivy.

What would be so awesome is if “they” could be convinced to purchase and rehab that scrubby little driveway, because it would be an awesome connector to the Rankin Bridge, Braddock, and I can go on and on about that.

Personally, I’d follow the route Andrew describes.


Dberlin
Member
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Going to Kennywood this afternoon after work. Wondering if any of you trailblazers have any updated info on access, or if it’s still best to leave the GAP at the Waterfront?


paulheckbert
Keymaster
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The Rankin Bridge Connector (see google maps) that Marko82 and Vannever spoke of might be overgrown now because a landowner that owns some of the land on that hillside has put up No Trespassing signs on that path (even though it appears that much of the land is not his). Several of us in the Steel Valley Trail Council are researching the property boundaries and trying to figure out a route for a future connector. The fruits of that could be years off.

@dberlin: biking Waterfront Drive and 837 from near the Marcegaglia building is probably the best route, currently, though it’s got high speed car traffic. If you want to help make things better in the future, talk to Kennywood people and tell them they need a connector trail to the GAP. And talk to Whitaker and West Mifflin people and tell them we need a connector trail from the Rankin Bridge to the GAP. I’ve heard that this stretch of 837 will be refurbished in the next few years.


jonawebb
Participant
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What’s weird about Kennywood, and also Sandcastle, is how un-bike friendly they are. There’s a trail that runs right past Sandcastle; would be the easiest thing in the world to connect it to the entrance. But no, you’ve got to go around, through the car entrance. And Kennywood is much worse, since you’ve got to spend a lot of time on 837 to get there. A trail connector would be so easy to make.
I know the Sandcastle trail was blocked until the ownership changed. But I wonder if anybody has pointed out how many people bike past both Kennywood and Sandcastle, including lots of families with children. Don’t they want to sell more tickets? They must have a capital budget; they make changes to the park rides every year.


Mick
Participant
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I don’t know myself, but a riding buddy told me a few weeks ago that the  Rankin Bridge Connector (RBC, also known as the “Whitakers Metals” trail due to an old sign up near the 837 end of the  trail) is passable.

I only explored that trail once, and that was before the bike trail below existed.  It was a little rough getting down, but it worked.

From the top of the RBC, there is a sidewalk up the hill. IIRC, there is a little weird break in the sidewalk near the top, then   mostly parking lots and a path next to the road to get to the entrance.

Back in 2008 and 2009 when I did GAP trips,  past Kennywood seemed like the best way to go, even though it was daughting.  Other parts of the trip included a ghost road at the end of 2nd Ave in Duquesne and an 837 lane closed for construction for a few years (Thank you, PennDOT!) on 837.

It’s so nice now, being able to bike to McKeesport without having to update my will or anything.

 


Mick
Participant
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Also, if you go past Kennywood on the trail and want to go back to the entrance on 837, you can ride the sidewalk on the north side of 837 up, dodging broken glass and the occasional sidewalk parker.


paulheckbert
Keymaster
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If Sandcastle had some imagination, they would create a side trail off the GAP passing through Sandcastle so that brave & overheated cyclists could ride their bikes through a gantlet of squirt guns operated by Sandcastle patrons, on Summer days. It could be a great attraction!

But no, Sandcastle treats the bike trail like an annoyance, something to be pushed to the margins and ignored as much as possible.


buffalo buffalo
Participant
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A friend recently tried to take her two children (ages 8 & 9, or thereabouts) to Sandcastle by bike, and had an awful experience; they were nearly hit by drivers multiple times both on the way in and out.  She sent them a letter afterwards, but I don’t know if she’s gotten a response yet.

Somewhere around here is a post where I looked at property ownership near the Rankin Bridge Connector according to the County RE website; as I recall, most of the relevant land was owned by the school district, at least then….


paulheckbert
Keymaster
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There’s a (vacant) school property nearby, but the more relevant lots are owned by Cornerstone Power LLC and US Steel, according to http://www.lotstolove.org/ . http://triblive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/lifestyles/family/s_525692.html gives some history of GAP trail route planning.  At http://peoplemaps.esri.com/pittsburgh/ aerial photos from 1967 show an old road, and what is I think the old coke gas pipeline (delivered coke gas, a byproduct of Clairton Coke Works, to Homestead Works, where it was used as fuel), and the Whitaker Pedestrian Bridge, which was town down when the new Whitaker Bridge (which is actually in West Mifflin) was constructed.


Dberlin
Member
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Well, I ended up cutting up through the “trail” past the Whitaker flyover on the GAP. It was passable, but had to duck under a few trees and bushes and carry my bike on maybe 25% of it. From there it looked like there was no shoulder on the outbound side of 837 (although I couldn’t really see), so I took the left shoulder, which allowed me to see the cars and trucks speeding towards me.

Today I submitted the following to Kennywood:

To whom it may concern:

I’m writing today to express my sincere appreciation for everything that Kennywood means to Pittsburgh and the surrounding area, and to suggest a change that could make it even better.

As a native Pittsburgher, Kennywood has always held a special place in my heart. Our school’s Kennywood picnic was the most anticipated day of the year. Kennywood’s opening was the surest sign that long, fun summer days were upon us. My grandparents even took their honeymoon to Kennywood.

I am now a season pass holder, and have loved making new Kennywood memories with my boys, who are 4 and 6 years old. We get prepared for the season by watching Rick Sebak’s iconic documentary, and try to make at least 4 or 5 visits each summer.

Yesterday we visited Kennywood to celebrate my son’s 4th birthday. As an avid cyclist, I decided to ride to the park after work.

I was dismayed to learn, however, that even though Kennywood is adjacent to the Great Allegheny Passage (“GAP”) bike trail, there is no safe way to get to the park on a bike.  Although you can practically touch the Steel Phantom from the trail, the only way to bike to the park is to exit the GAP at the Waterfront or Duquesne, and ride several miles on Rt. 837—a highway with no bike lanes, on which cars and trucks regularly travel in excess of 60 mph.

I write to encourage you to provide guest access to the GAP trail. The trail is among the premier bike trails in America, connecting Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. and providing safe, car-free connections to the neighborhoods along each of Pittsburgh’s three rivers. My older son and I regular take long rides on the GAP and Three Rivers Heritage Trails, and would certainly ride to Kennywood if it were safe. Others in Pittsburgh cycling community have expressed similar sentiments.

A safe access point to Kennywood from the GAP trail would serve to strengthen the park’s reputation as a family-friendly destination for summer fun, and would create new opportunities to attract both local guests and those riding to Pittsburgh from out of town.

I am confident that local bike advocacy groups would be more than willing to help in discussing the logistics of creating an affordable, safe entry point to the park from the GAP trail. Please do not hesitate to contact me to discuss this further.

Yours,


jonawebb
Participant
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This is great! More, please! Lots of people who love Kennywood (or Sandcastle) writing them has got to be the most persuasive thing to do.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Three decades ago, I wrote to Kennywood in support of smoking restrictions in the park. It took a season, and a couple dozen letters from others, but no more getting smoked out while waiting in line at a coaster ride.


paulheckbert
Keymaster
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Excellent letter, @dberlin. Let’s all write letters like that!


Italianblend
Participant
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Yeah you would think sandcastle and kennywood’s owners would see how so very close they are to a major bike trail and cut some trees and throw some limestone down for us.

wishful thinking, would be cool to have bike parking near that fence on the trail by the phantom, and a lift taking you up the cliff!

and that sandcastle water gun idea is great! I would ride through there every time and if they charged people to do it, the improvements would pay for themselves!


MarkC
Member
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Confirmed,  the Rankin Bridge connector from the gap up to 837 is no longer passable in a realistic sense. Today I tried it, and encountered a no trespassing sign, and downed trees/brush blocking the way.  I’m not keen on trespassing, bushwacking, nor 837, so the Rankin Bridge moves down the list of desirable ways to go north across the river.

 

 

 


chrishent
Member
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Resurrecting this age-old subject. My company has a Kennywood day coming up, and I was thinking of going there by bike. The PA 837 route, either from Homestead or Duquesne, look unpleasant. Does anyone have experience riding on Ravine St through Munhall/Whitaker? It seems like a gradual climb, and from the Strava heatmap, it appears it gets some decent bike traffic. I figure once I’m on the the hill it will be simple to go down into the park.

Also, what’s the bike parking situation at Kennywood? Any racks available?


jonawebb
Participant
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I was on Ravine a while ago picking up a tag. I don’t think it’s a great street, but it’s certainly preferable to 837.
If you’re going this way it looks like you could also explore neighborhood routes parallel to 837, which you could reach by taking Mifflin to Whitaker.


Ornoth
Member
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I enjoy Ravine, though it’s been a while. IIRC it’s easily accessible, relatively quiet, but not the world’s smoothest surface.


chrishent
Member
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Thanks, Jon and Ornoth! I’ll also look into Whitaker Way/St. It seems that this one gets the climbing out of the way immediately after 837. Once in West Mifflin, it looks like Outlook Dr is a low-traffic neighborhood St, just above 837. Worth checking out :-)


Ornoth
Member
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I took Eliza/Whitaker back from W. Mifflin once a couple years ago. I recall it being a little lumpy.


Dberlin
Member
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Realized I never updated my post, but about a month after I sent Kennywood the above letter last year, someone called me and said they couldn’t provide trail access because they’d have to make it ADA accessible and it’s too expensive. I don’t understand why they couldn’t just keep the main entrance accessible and put some switchbacks and a gate from the GAP trail, but that’s the message they gave me.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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When you figure this out, please post a map and written directions. I am almost never out that way, and would need explicit instructions, both to and from.


paulheckbert
Keymaster
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Ravine St isn’t bad. It’s kind of twisty, so car speeds aren’t so bad here, and traffic is not so heavy. If you stay in the valley, the road straightens out where it becomes Greensprings Ave, so cars probably speed up there. You could climb up to Eliza St, which is parallel, and it might have slower traffic.

To descend into Kennywood, it looks like Commonwealth Ave to Hoffman Blvd is the direct route. Traffic on those roads is fast, as I recall. Descending those on a bike shouldn’t be too bad, as you can go about as fast as a car, but climbing them could be moderately unpleasant. I’ve never tried it, but it appears, from satellite pictures, that it might be possible to bike from Vista View St across a baseball field down into the Kennywood parking lot, bypassing Commonwealth Ave and Hoffman Blvd.


lenticular truss
Member
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Would it be so terrible to overshoot Kennywood, get off the GAP in Duquesne, then work back along the sidewalk that (based on Google streetview) runs for the most part along the south side of Rte 837? I’ve been wondering about biking to K’wood with my kid, and I’m thinking that while on my own I’d be willing to take the more direct route by street, that with a kid this other option might be better. I dunno -sucks that you can’t just get there from the trail.


jonawebb
Participant
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Yeah, that looks like the way to go with a kid. The sidewalk is more or less complete at least on the western side of the road.

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