help me devise a fun bikey adventure for my family?
So, my parents and little sister (14) are coming to visit Pittsburgh this weekend and have never really spent any time here. My parents have also recently gotten really into riding their bikes for funsies on the greenways back at home in Tennessee. They definitely want to see some of the city by bike since I won’t shut up about riding bikes here all day every day, and I’m trying to figure out how to make that happen. They are coming to the Flock ride on Friday, which I think they will enjoy, but I also want to take them on some kind of other bike adventure on Saturday. So… help me figure out where to take them?
I think we need to stick to trails and quiet, relatively flat roads. (Haha, I know, flat in Pittsburgh, lolz, etc. Let’s just not make them climb up Negley or anything.) Let’s assume zero skills in dealing with impatient traffic. I think 20 miles is probably about as much as they can tolerate before it would stop being fun. So… is there some nice route I could take them on that would start in the city, take them 15-20 miles, and give them a nice view of the city and/or some badass fall foliage along the way? Bonus points if the halfway point includes somewhere we could get lunch or something like that. Extra bonus points if it’s easily accessible by bike from the East End (they’re staying in a hotel in North Oakland) because driving bikes around on cars is dumb.
TL;DR gimme your favorite beginner-friendly, sub-20-mile, low-or-no traffic, flat-ish cycling route so I can take my family on a fun Pittsburgh adventure
Easy thing would be Jail Trail, swing over the Hot Metal, get lunch and maybe walk around, take the South Side trail to Station Square, incline up, tourist a bit, come back down, back to the car. You can see a ton of PGH that way and also build in some breaks along the way.
I think that delivering food to the hungry by bike is Saturday morning, could be fun, feel good thing to do with the family. Can’t seem to find the original post now.
Anonymous 10/17/2012 at 10:01pm #
Well, I don’t know how to navigate from Oakland to the trails and back without dealing with the hills and traffic, so I’ll leave that advice for someone more qualified.
Once you’re on the trails they really are as close to level as anywhere in the area. For the best views of the city from a trail I’d vote for the Station Square segment and from the Hot Metal Bridge.
If you really want to get them on a trail away from traffic and do some quality leaf peeping though, I’d have to say go against your bias and load the bikes on a (gasp) car and head for Connellsville. We did that yesterday and the trees were starting to look pretty good. I figured we might have been a day or two early, so if they haven’t suddenly changed and dropped they should be looking really good Saturday. Head east from Connellsville into Ohiopyle. It’s all trail with no cars and just a slight, steady upgrade heading east. At around 11 miles you’ll come to a beautiful overlook where you could pull out a little picnic or some snacks and just enjoy the view for a bit before returning for a total of around 22 miles. The return trip will have that slight downgrade to it the whole way. I’ve taken some folks on this ride who were really not in that good of “bike-shape” and they had no problem with the distance.
Some nice spots of color:
Whatever you decide to do, hope your family enjoys their time in the ‘Burg!
Food to Families is indeed Saturday: https://www.facebook.com/events/478262415540271/
Start is the Pump House at the Waterfront in Munhall; ride will be about ten miles roundtrip to Duquesne and back.
North Oakland is in the largest flat area in Western PA. I would say take back rooads to REynolds and go for a bit of spin in Frick Park and return.
My favorite trail is the stretch of GAP from the Waterfront to McKeesport. You’re along the river, you ride past industrypast and present, below Kennywood, across a nice bridge. It’s pleasant fall scenery.
Parking is abundant at the Waterfront, but I really don’t have any McKeesport lunch recommendations.
Take a ride to Bicycle heaven bike Museum,,right off of the north shore bike trail,,,over 2000 vintage antique and new bikes,largest bike collection of the rare Bowden spacelander bikes stingrays and pre war bikes,,,as seen on tv and people from as far as the u.k have came by ,,,,open 7 days a week,,412 716 4956 412 734 4034 and its free yes something for free,,look up bicycleheaven.org
The food was good at my one visit so far to McKee’s Cafe. It’s right on the trail in McKeesport, and the walls are covered with messages from folks who’ve ridden the GAP, including lots of families.
Bike down to the South side & have brunch at Doublewide or Piper’s Pub, then hit the trail through downtown and over to Bicycle Heaven (it really is amazing), then the National Aviary or Mattress Factory or Warhol Museum & back home.
Park at Greenfield lot of the Jail Trail, JT to Hot Metal bridge to South Side trail, SST thru Sta Sq. to the Fort Pitt bridge sidewalk, Point State Park, bridge to North Side, trail to break at Bicycle Heaven (bring snacks), to the Bastille (Western Pen, the marinas are pretty cool), back to Point, Allegheny River trail to 24th, dip into the Strip for the comestible of their choice (bring locks), Allegh trail back to Point, wiggle thru town (I wouldn’t oppose riding the wrong way on First Ave for neophytes) back to Jail Trail and back to start.
This will infuse them with the essence of Pgh. I think they would be blown away. Sunday is looking rather fab.
Anonymous 10/18/2012 at 11:17am #
I agree with edmonds59 but have a specific mellow route. Take them around town and park at the Duquesne incline right on the trail. Free parking and your car is fine as long as your purse, I-pad and wallets are not laying on the seat. Take them across Ft, Pitt to start off with that view of the city. Head over to the Northside and show them Western Pen. Head along the river past the stadiums and go across the Warhol Bridge back to the city side and head up along the river to the convention center. You can ride up the tunnel and surround them with the waterfalls on either side under the convention center. KIlls em’ every time! Head up to the strip and grab mung bean pancakes for $2.50 each from outside at Sam Boks. Head over to Leaf n’ Bean , I think at 24th and Liberty, or thereabouts. It eliminates many people from the equation because it is a cigar coffeeplace, but it is open and ventilated. with tables outside. , You can bring in beer too, if that is your thing. I usually do not go to places like that, but this is different. It is like a clubhouse with all the doors open and they welcome all so it is a diverse crowd. They have a musician who plays between 12-3 on Saturdays who is really good, He is a transplanted Nashville musician and you never know what you going to get, He will play blues one week with a harp player, bluegrass the next, rock and roll, and on and on. We grab a mung bean cake and sit outside-listen to some tunes before you head back to town on the trail and towards the point. The view of the city and the bridges coming back towards the point always gets raves from visitors!!
Anonymous 10/18/2012 at 11:27am #
I do have to say that reading all of the suggestions shows just how many freakin’ cool options bicyclists have in Pittsburgh. Seriously. And only going to get better. Anxiously anticipating bicycle time yet to come.
Anonymous 10/18/2012 at 12:18pm #
Jumping in the car may not be your thing, but on Saturdays I just think it is worth it for visitors to park in town, and avoid cars by sticking to the trail. The city provides entertaining diversions and sights. That being said, you have a lot of close options if the fall foliage is your preference.
The Butler to Freeport trail is also a nice, close option.
I have a roue that I do with my family for light up night, its very similiar to Edmonds59’s. We normally park right near Washingtons landing, cross over to the point, then up to Jail trail, cross the Hot metal down through south side, through station square and cross back over to the casino and back up the north shore trail. Plenty of good spots for shopping/ eating/ playing along that route.
Here’s an idea. Start at whatever parking lot you chose, but you go by bike and have them find it in their car using whatever gps gizmo they choose. Even if they beat you to the lot they still have to unload their bikes and get ready. Nice little family competition.
You guys are awesome. I need to read through all these again and figure out what to do. Too many good options. Bicycle Heaven will definitely be included: I think my parents would love that, and I still haven’t been there.
Also, Marko, I’m not 100% sure they can fit four bikes in their car anyway, so we would probably have to do that. Which is awesome, because I love that game.
I don’t know how your parents are about history and such but the GAP trail from the Waterfront to down past McKeesport is pretty cool.
man, this thread really makes me want to go for a bike ride!
From North Oakland to the Greenfield Jail Trail parking lot, there is a a pretty good chance the bike with beat the car.
Yeah, Mick, I’m pretty confident I could win that. The other direction, though… the elevation change would not be working in my favor.
Thanks a million, guys. They’re riding from their hotel to Dippy, doing the Flock ride, and then riding from the South Side to the hotel tomorrow with me, so we’ll see how that goes before I make a final decision on a route for Saturday. All of these ideas will be super helpful. And whichever ones we don’t do on Saturday will go on my list of weekend adventures to take on my own!
I’d be a bit concerned about the hotel-to-Dippy part. For relative newbies to tackle Oakland traffic at rush hour on a Friday? I hope you’re giving them some assistance there.
Oh, yeah, no worries, I’ll escort them the whole way. We may actually end up leaving from my house in Friendship, which is a slightly longer trip but allows us to take a pretty low-stress route. I think it’ll be worth it to avoid having to help them navigate through Oakland in a car at rush hour and to avoid having to reassemble several bikes after trying to cram them all into a car.
sorry i didn’t think of this sooner–it’s obviously a bit late for today, but i’ve got a 2-bike trunk rack you can borrow for tomorrow if you need it.
Anonymous 10/19/2012 at 3:22pm #
Pearmask – the trails on the north shore are pretty cool as well. You can take the Jail trail to station square and then cross over to the point, then to the north shore. Washington’s landing is an easy ride with some cool views.
Anonymous 10/19/2012 at 3:32pm #
If you want a flat easy nice ride, start in Millvale. Easy place to park and you can ride down to the city, go over the Fort Duquesne Bridge into Point Park and then go across the Fort Pitt Bridge around and down to Station Square and run that trail to Hofbrau House to have some food. Cross the Hot Metal Bridge and run the Jail Trail back to the city. Take Smithfield Street to left on Third Ave, where you can see PPG Place on the right, which is pretty cool. Continue down to Stanwix make a left and head back to Point State Park, but this time get down to the Allegheny River and run that trail up to the Strip District. You can run across the 16th Street Bridge and head back or you can run up to the 40th Street bridge and loop down back to Millvale.
I find this route very comforting to new cyclists, with great city views and it being pretty darn flat for Pittsburgh. It is truly a must ride. Have fun.
Anybody know Bicycle Heaven’s hours? We got a late start today, but we might wander over there if we can make it before it closes
Probably too late but: the website doesnt list hours, but has phone#(412) 716-4956
Anonymous 10/20/2012 at 8:59pm #
it looked open around 4-ish, but not sure right now.
Were you headed down Ellsworth around 4:30? I saw someone leading a merry band of cyclists that I thought might be you – but alas I was on my Vespa and headed the opposite direction.
@salty, yeah, I bet that merry band was us!
@edmonds: They did great, including surviving Friday traffic on the way to Dippy on Friday and going up Neville from Panther Hollow twice with zero complaints. And they drove their bikes from their hotel to my house on Friday, and then we did not need to put them in/on the car until they left on Sunday, so I consider that a success.
Side note: I think they really enjoyed the Flock ride — thanks to all of you who were extra-friendly to them
We did not end up having the epic adventure that I had envisioned, for various reasons (out late after the Flock ride, woke up late, decided to wait until sometime in the afternoon to see how some sketchy-looking rainclouds were going to behave, tried not to stay out too long for the sake of my extremely cold-natured mother who doesn’t ride much, etc.), but we did ride down to REI because they needed some things and don’t have an REI at home, and then we hopped on that South Side trail for a while and rode to Station Square. I think they had a good time. They wanted to adventure more, but none of us were feeling super-duper motivated that day, so they want to come back sometime soon and take advantage of all these awesome potential itineraries. I am going to make note of all of these for next time, and I’m going to go explore some of them this winter on my own, too — I don’t venture outside of my little riding bubble enough. Thanks for all the awesome suggestions
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