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Three Rivers Heritage Trail features the best that the city of Pittsburgh has to offer, connecting major cultural venues, the downtown area, historical sites, and some of the city’s most well-known neighborhoods and parks along more than 20 miles of riverfront trails. Extended outward in three major paved, connected segments from Point State Park, the urban trail parallels its namesake three rivers—the Allegheny, Ohio, and Monongahela—that helped lift the city into prominence as America’s once industrial powerhouse.
Now, the pathway, which began as an idea nearly three decades ago and had its first groundbreaking in 1991—serves as an active-transportation and recreation asset, and major tourism destination, for more than a half million people each year.
Pittsburgh boasts more than 440 bridges, and several of the city’s most iconic in this category serve as connectors for the trail’s various segments. Managed by the nonprofit Friends of the Riverfront, the Three Rivers Heritage Trail also shares a corridor with, and links to, one of America’s most well-known rail-trails, the 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage, and serves as a major spine for the Industrial Heartland Trails Coalition’s developing 1,500-mile trail network through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and New York.
Southern Segment: Station Square to Great Allegheny Passage (Monongahela River–South): 6.9 miles
A great place to begin your journey is on West Station Square Drive on the southern side of the Monongahela River. Here the Duquesne Incline, one of Pittsburgh’s two historical cable cars, travels up the steep hillside 400 feet on an 800-foot track to offer a panoramic view of Pittsburgh and the three rivers.
Heading east on a paved trail beneath the Fort Pitt Bridge, you’ll travel by Highmark Stadium and the Gateway Clipper Fleet before reaching historic Station Square, built in the 1870s to greet passengers of the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad on their way from Youngstown. Ceasing all operations by 1970 and redeveloped in 1976, Station Square is now home to restaurants, bars, shops, and the Monongahela Incline, featuring extensive vistas of the city skyline.
Continuing along the river, you’ll pass under the Smithfield Street Bridge—a spectacular structure completed in 1883 with sweeping blue arches of steel—and then beneath the Liberty Bridge and into an industrial area with a series of shared roadways. Turn right onto Second Street, left onto McKean Street, and left onto Fourth Street, where the off-road trail picks up again at about 1.7 miles from the starting point. Note the brightly colored trailside artwork created on the 2016 national Opening Day for Trails by the local community and overseen by former Pittsburgh Steeler Baron “The Artist” Batch.
In another mile, you’ll approach the Southside Dog Park, just before the Birmingham Bridge. Here, you’ll be greeted by the larger-than-life sculpture The Workers (2012), which was made from scrap metal from local steel mills and celebrates Pittsburgh’s industrial past while embracing the present and future.
From the Birmingham Bridge, you’ll go another 0.7 mile through Southside Riverfront Park and the SouthSide Works, a trendy shopping and restaurant area, where you can cross the river on the beautifully restored pedestrian/bicycle Hot Metal Bridge, a 1900 rail trestle that once transported hot iron to the South Side and steel ingots to the northern side of the river. Continuing southeast another 0.7 mile takes you past the practice field for the Pittsburgh Steelers and toward a more remote section of trail that leads to Haysglen Street and a continuous connection with the Great Allegheny Passage.
Middle Segment: Strip District to Schenley Park (Allegheny River–South, Monongahela River–North): 6.8 miles
While the trail technically begins at 24th Street in the Strip District—an area known for its gourmet food and produce shops, eateries, and nightlife—the trail is closed to 11th Street due to nearby construction projects on this section.
A short 0.4-mile section of crushed-stone trail begins farther up the southern side of the Allegheny River in the Lawrenceville neighborhood, which begins at Bernard Dog Run, a local dog park, and ends at 43rd Street. Future plans call for eventually connecting this section of trail to the main section through the Strip District.
Begin your journey at 11th Street, which is also located one block from the Senator John Heinz History Center on Smallman Street. Heading west, you’ll skirt the southern side of the Allegheny River about 1 mile to Point State Park, at the confluence of the city’s famous river system, which marks the historical sites of Fort Duquesne and Fort Pitt—strongholds of France and Great Britain in the mid-1700s.
Along the way you’ll pass by the Pittsburgh Convention Center and through the Cultural District, which houses several of the city’s top performance venues. The trail then makes a hard left turn southwest from the Point, switching back over the Smithfield Street Bridge in about 0.7 mile to continue toward South Oakland. An awkward merge point for I-279 and I-376 used to require an on-road detour, but the completion in 2018 of an off-road segment of trail, including the switchback ramp at the Smithfield Street Bridge, now allows a seamless trail experience to South Oakland.
Heading east, you’ll pass a trailside bike shop two blocks after the Smithfield Street Bridge, and then the north side of the Hot Metal Bridge in about 2.4 more miles. The trail curves on a southward then northward trajectory for about 1.4 miles, terminating at Schenley Park, a 456-acre green space with a café and visitor center, golf course, sports plex and ice-skating rink, swimming pool, trails, playgrounds, and the 15-acre Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.
Navigate this section by going straight on Second Avenue 0.3 mile, taking a slight left onto Greenfield Avenue, and then taking an immediate left onto Saline Street. Go 0.3 mile, and turn left onto Boundary Street. Go about 300 feet, and turn right onto Junction Hollow Trail. Go 0.5 mile, and take a slight left to stay on Junction Hollow Trail, which ends at Boundary Street, adjacent to some railroad tracks and Panther Hollow Lake.
Extending southeast from the intersection of Second Avenue and Greenfield Avenue is a currently closed 0.7-mile section of trail that is within an active construction zone. As of early 2019, this section was scheduled to reopen in the next couple years.
South of Hazelwood, a 1.4-mile section—also known as the Duck Hollow Trail—extending from the Glenwood Bridge north to Old Browns Hill Road was closed for repairs at press time. This trail connects to the Nine Mile Run Trail, leading another 1.5 miles to the 106-acre Frick Park.
This section from Point State Park and over the Hot Metal Bridge to Homestead is also considered a shared corridor with the Great Allegheny Passage.
Northern Segment: Millvale Riverfront Park to Westhall Street (Ohio River–North, Allegheny River–North): 6.8 miles
The best place to begin your journey on the northern segment of the trail is at Millvale Riverfront Park, just west of the 40th Street Bridge. This paved segment of trail curves southwest and then northwest through Pittsburgh’s North Side neighborhoods.
In about 0.9 mile from the parking lot at Millvale Riverfront Park, you can opt to take a sharp left onto Herrs Island (also known as Washington’s Landing) via a historical rail trestle. This connector trail is mostly gravel and takes you along the island’s quiet communities and waterfront. Trail users on bikes are asked to ride slowly on the narrow pathway and dismount in certain sections—-especially near the waterfront restaurant patio and the marina, where heavy equipment operates.
Head south another 1.5 miles to Allegheny Landing, which is billed as one of the nation’s first urban riverfront sculpture parks. For a side excursion, head to nearby Sandusky Street for a museum dedicated to Pop Art phenomenon Andy Warhol. To reach the museum, head north through the park to Isabella Street, turn right onto Isabella Street, and then turn left onto Sandusky Street. Go one block to the museum, which will be on your left.
Over the course of about 1.1 miles, you’ll pass a series of major venues in the North Side, including PNC Park, Heinz Field, and the Rivers Casino. The trail heads northwest another 2.1 miles, terminating at Westhall Street north of Brunot Island.
On-street metered parking is available throughout Pittsburgh, as well as paid parking garages. Farther out from the city center, free parking is available at Millvale Riverfront Park (70 River Front Dr.), Schenley Park (101 Panther Hollow Rd.), and Peggy’s Harbor marina.
For those taking public transportation to the trail, the Port Authority of Allegheny County operates a light rail system called the “T” that has half a dozen stations located near the trail. Bikes are permitted on board the T and all Port Authority buses are equipped with front-mounted bike racks.
To reach the western endpoint on W. Station Square Dr. from I-376 E toward Pittsburgh, take Exit 69C to merge onto US 19 N/SR 51 N/Saw Mill Run Blvd., and go 0.1 mile. Take the SR 51/SR 837/McKees Rocks/West End exit, and then merge onto S. Main St. Turn right onto W. Carson St., go 0.5 mile, and turn left onto W. Station Square Dr. Go about 0.1 mile, and turn right into the parking lot.
To reach the Millvale Riverfront Park trailhead from I-279 S, take Exit 2B for E. Ohio St. toward SR 28 N. Continue onto East St., and go 0.1 mile. Turn left onto E. North Ave., and then continue onto Spring Garden Ave. Go 0.1 mile, and turn right onto Chestnut St. Go 0.2 mile, and turn left onto the SR 28 N ramp to Etna. Turn left to merge onto SR 28 N, go 2.0 miles, and then take Exit 3B toward Millvale. Go 0.1 mile, turn left onto E. Ohio St. (signs for Millvale), and then take a slight left to stay on E. Ohio St. Go about 410 feet, and turn left onto Riverfront Dr. Go 0.4 mile, and look for the large parking lot straight ahead.
To reach the parking lot at 11th St. from I-579, follow signs to take the Seventh Ave. exit toward the convention center. Head northeast on Seventh Ave., and immediately turn right onto Grant St. In 0.1 mile continue onto Liberty Ave., and immediately turn left onto 11th St. Go 0.2 mile. Turn right onto Waterfront Pl., and turn left into the parking lot.
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