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Biking in the Burbs

Hello all, I just found this site trying to figure out which Pittsburgh suburb to move to as I was looking for bike trails around Pittsburgh and if any suburbs had good trails downtown or even just in their vicinity. I am moving from the DC area which has some decent trails and allows me to bike from the MD suburbs into work in downtown DC with minimal street riding. Since I dont want to live in Allegheny county I have been looking at the Butler, Westmoreland and Washington county suburbs. I dont need to commute at all but would love to move to an area around Pittsburgh that has solid bike trails. Looking at TrailLink it seems that the South is my best bet, as there is nothing around the Cranberry area and not much around Murrysville. Is the Peters Twp area my best bet for a good bike trail area? Is there stuff up north and out east that is just not as well known or published? Thank you for any guidance or suggestions. Blair
2016-04-13 23:19:48
Well, I live in Upper St. Clair -- the small township at the very edge of Allegheny county. Washington county is about 0.3 miles reach from my house. Yes there is a trail ( around bu it's not connected to downtown. And if you go east of Peters you have to spend some time on roads (trail currently goes on streets). If you want to commute by bicycle then one of hte options is to get to T (South Hill or Library) jump on it with bicycle, jump off in downtown and continue on bicycle.
2016-04-14 07:08:33
Trafford is the closest point to Pittsburgh that's in another county. And they're doing some good stuff with trails. It's not ready yet, but will be soon. The ride in to Pittsburgh is not bad, and takes you through Braddock to the GAP. So you could connect to the Southside trails that way. And there's a bus that will take you and your bike to Pittsburgh if you don't want to ride. About the trail in Trafford: http://localhost/mb/topic/turtle-creek-rail-trail/
2016-04-14 07:19:01
Ditto what Jonawebb says. Google the Westmoreland County Heritage Trail, and/or the Black Diamond Trail for activities in the Murrysville area.
2016-04-14 09:32:45
I wish there were a bike trail from Trafford to Pittsburgh, but there is not. Currently, the route is roads, some of them unpleasant. Maybe in 10 years we'll be there. In the meantime I'd recommend living in Allegheny County. Consider Millvale. And in a couple years we'll probably have a trail to Sharpsburg.
2016-04-14 09:52:52
I don't know what the concern is with Allegheny County, but would second the suggestion to consider Millvale. You can bike along trails seemingly forever (you can get to Washington D.C. without leaving a trail), with plenty of bikeable roads heading just about any direction, and North Park about a 15-minute drive from there. I commute through Millvale myself daily, starting from seven miles north of there.
2016-04-14 12:33:04
Many of us who live in Westmoreland County drive to McKeesport or the Waterfront, unload our bikes and ride into the city.
2016-04-14 12:39:41
@Stu Going to guess taxes :)
2016-04-14 15:45:06
Ask the OP, not me. I can only speak for myself, as someone who moved from Westmoreland to Allegheny over 25 years ago, but still owns the property out there and pays taxes in both places. OP: If it's taxes you're concerned about, chances are pretty good that you are going to pay more, a lot more, in transportation costs out thataway than you would save in taxes. It's not my thread, so I'll shut up now.
2016-04-14 15:58:03
Just a comment on trails. Most of the suburban trails (Montour, GAP beyond McKeesport, Butler, Ghost town, etc.) are crushed limestone and not paved. While they are very enjoyable to ride on, they are not usable year round due to them getting soft when wet (mostly early spring). I don't know if this matters to you but I thought I'd mention it.
2016-04-14 16:14:06
My concern with Allegheny county is that the freaking property taxes are insane! I'm not going to lie, they kind of shocked me. I dont want to pay 10K a year in taxes and I want to be in a decent school district, which is why the other counties appealed to me. I read about the Pittsburgh "newcomer" tax in which the school district files an appeal on your property taxes almost immediately following the purchase. So when the previous taxes were only on 250k, the new taxes are on an appraisal of 400k. Sorry to rant and get off topic but that is why I'm looking elsewhere than Allegheny county. I grew up in Highland Park, I'm fine with the city. But my wife is from the Cleveland suburbs and she has "mentioned" (though I view it as a threat) that we should check out Ohio because she wants a 1/2 arce or so. (Again sorry off topic of trails.) So I'm trying to find a good school district, that has a good park system nearby and some nice trails to check out. I dont necessarily need a trail that goes into downtown Pittsburgh, I'd be fine with something that can offer a decent length ride and some options to offer variety. The GAP seems real nice and the WHT seems like a good option as well, and one that is still growing. So no one chimed in with anything up north in Butler county. As I thought from looking at maps, there isnt much developed up there yet. No parks, no trails. As for the trails in the east and south are they all pretty children friendly topography wise and how they are rode? Like will I have an issue with a trailer on any trails and should I avoid certain areas? I know Pittsburgh is hilly so I assume that there are certain trails that may be too steep for small children? Paulheckbert, great map on the Turtle Creek Trail link ,mentioned by jonawebb, showing the future expanisions of the current trails. Thanks again everyone.
2016-04-14 16:29:10
yeah Pierce hit the nail on the head. And @Stu, I'm not going to need to commute into the city for work so the only time I'll be coming in for an event or so. So transportation costs are not necessarily a concern, unless of course you mean that being out in the burbs things are so spread out that getting everyday essentials or even driving to a trail head is going to be a pain in the neck? But please I appreciate any advice, even advice not on bike trails Stu. The comment on transportation costs is an interesting one. Marko, great points thanks for that info. So most of suburban trails are like the GAP then. I ride part of the C&O around here in DC and I know what you mean by they are not very rideable when wet or in the winter with snow. Are there any paved trails in the burbs or I'll need to do as some posters stated and drive to the waterfront or other urban trail if I want to bike Nov-Apr?
2016-04-14 16:43:29
Bits and pieces of the Montour and its extensions are paved, especially in Bethel Park, but it's not consistent. Trails around here tend to have been built for recreation first and transportation/commuting only incidentally, so they're not really up to transportation riding use except by accident. There is in fact a trail in Butler County, which runs from Butler city southeasterly to Freeport on the Allegheny, northeast of Pittsburgh. (It's very creatively named the Butler-Freeport Trail.) I'm not aware that it connects to anything else, yet, though there are plans to eventually extend Pittsburgh's riverfront trails up the Allegheny. (Within my lifetime the city trails may even connect into the Pittsburgh--Erie Trail, but I'm not holding my breath.) Within the city, the trails (other than the Junction Hollow Trail) are all along the rivers and are as flat as is humanly topographically possible here. I see parents with trailers and parents with kids riding on them regularly in the summer.
2016-04-14 17:05:58
I really feel for the OP. Moving from the DC network of bike trails and infra into Pgh has to be like time-travel backwards. I live in Beaver County. No trails to speak of. Cycling isn't routine up here. Having said all that, welcome to the Burgh! There are some great things happening and about to happen with bicycling here, we're just at an initial stage where DC is so well developed.
2016-04-14 21:49:40
"Are there any paved trails in the burbs or I’ll need to do as some posters stated and drive to the waterfront or other urban trail if I want to bike Nov-Apr?" For the record, generally speaking the Waterfront segment of trail isn't kept up Nov-Apr particularly well, which is a longstanding gripe for those who commute through there. Closer in, you'll have better luck w/ the riding if you are looking primarily at riding trails during Nov-Apr. Most of the local trails, Three Rivers Heritage trails, etc. will be fine for hauling a trailer. We started our small people in a trailer & now they're dropping miles. Being near the GAP is really, just something special. Don't know if you mountain bike, but we have access in the city at Frick Park.
2016-04-14 22:12:30
The Butler Freeport trail is very nice, and although not connected to anything trail-wise, it's convenient to hundreds of miles of winding country roads in the surround rural towns. The trail is dirt and gravel, but most of it is in good enough shape to pull a kid in a trailer. If you go off the trail be ready for serious hills and some big pickup trucks who might not be all that bike friendly. But there is plenty of nice riding up there.
2016-04-15 08:15:56
Actually, the Butler Freeport Community Trail is actively working on its connections into the City of Butler. There is a new system of Sharrows in the City leading to key destinations in town (parks, library, etc), and they include access to/from the trail. Alameda Park is looking to add/improve mountain bike trail options as well.
2016-04-18 16:03:21
Planned mountain bike trails, Alameda Park, Butler. I don't know the schedule or the current state of this work. google map:
2016-04-18 23:12:17
"Is the Peters Twp area my best bet for a good bike trail area?" Probably. If you are looking for well-built housing with a nice yard in the 250k-400k range, and in a good school district, I believe you can find a nice selection out there, and be fairly close to the Montour Trail. The road riding out around Mingo Creek Park is also very good, and driving over to a Yough River Trail trailhead isn't too burdensome. The area south of the Allegheny County border and east of Route 19, whether it is Venetia, Peters, McMurray, North Strabane, or whatever, is probably closest to what you want.
2016-04-19 08:02:29