Weekend Wheeling in Pittsburgh

Coffee Ride
By Joe Papp
  |  Gorp.com
Page 2 of 4   |  

Starting at the William Pitt Union on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh in Oakland, this 30-kilometer (almost 19-mile) jaunt is a perfect wake-up for the caffeine-hungry cyclist, since it passes at least a half dozen excellent coffee shops.

With the exception of a stretch on the Eliza Furnace Trail (affectionately called the"Jail Trail" by locals, because it terminates behind the Allegheny County Jail), this ride follows city streets. Thus, despite your craving for a double espresso, avoid rush hour and save this pedal until the late morning. Plan at least an hour and a half for this ride, not including any coffee breaks.

The Ride

From the Union, turn right onto Bigelow Boulevard, cross over Forbes Avenue, ride by Hillman Library, and turn left on Schenley Drive at the site of old Forbes Field. Follow Schenley Drive across the bridge and past Phipps Botanical Gardens on your right. As you cross the Panther Hollow Bridge, bear to the right and ride onto the Boulevard of the Allies. Make a left onto Parkman after a few hundred meters, and turn left again at the stop sign onto Swinburne Street. Follow this twisty, tree-shaded descent underneath the Parkway East. At the stop sign, turn right down Greenfield Avenue, which you follow to 885N, passing under the railroad bridge. Bear to the right, and after only 50 meters, make a right turn back under the railroad tracks, up a short drive, and around to the right. Four kilometers (two and a half miles) later, the entrance to the Eliza Furnace Trail is just ahead.

Enjoy the Jail Trail's easy grade and smooth asphalt. At the end, at eight kilometers (five miles), pedal around the jail and turn left onto First Avenue. Turn right at the intersection with Grant Street, and follow this nifty red-brick road straight through the center of town. The Allegheny County Courthouse and Jail (see some pictures) are on your right, while Henry Clay Frick's Union Trust Building (pictures) is on the left. Turn left on 11th Street, followed by a right onto Smallman. As you travel through the Strip District — the center of Pittsburgh's wholesale markets — you'll pass the John Heinz Regional History Center (pictures and history).

Once you have explored the Strip, head back onto Smallman and follow it to 38th Street. Turn right, and then make a left onto Butler Street in the Lawrenceville section of town. Continue down Butler to a right on Washington Boulevard. At 21 kilometers (13 miles), you'll see the Washington Boulevard Bike Oval on the right, a half-mile track built by the city for cyclists and in-line skaters. Every Wednesday night, the Allegheny Cycling Association (see their Web site) promotes several criterium races there.

After the track, make a right onto Negley Run Boulevard and climb into East Liberty. At the top, turn right onto East Liberty Boulevard, then left on Highland Avenue. Follow this road into Shadyside, where you can stop at Insomnidks Coffee Lounge, or keep riding and turn right onto Walnut Street. After a right onto South Aiken and a left on Ellsworth Avenue, it's only a few kilometers from the end of the loop. From Ellsworth, turn right onto Amberson and left onto Bayard, which, if followed straight, runs into Bigelow and the Union, back on Pitt's campus.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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