There are a number of discussions of the inevitability of braving 51 to get out of Pittsburgh to the west. I'm hoping that magically someone has a good alternative suggestion given a certain amount of flexibility.
I'm planning a tour to Michigan (Ann Arbor). I have very few exact route requirements, except that I don't have a whole lot of time so will have to take a reasonably direct route through northern Ohio. Anyway, the most challenging bit seems to be escaping Pittsburgh. I'm willing and able to get dropped off by car somewhere north or west of Pittsburgh proper to avoid death traps if that helps.
Does anyone have any particular recommendations for good routes to aim for? I'm happy to hear advice for both the immediate Pittsburgh area as well as general routing farther out.
From New Castle, PA your could take the Stavich Trail to Struthers, Ohio, make your way on road to and through Youngstown, and then pick up the Metro Parks trail that heads north to Cleveland. The Adventure Cycling Association Northern Tier trail (from Washington to New York) outlines a route along Lake Erie all the way across Ohio. With summer tourism mostly on the wane, it should be a nice ride this time of year. Otherwise, there is a patchwork of trails that follow US 20, a dozen or more miles to the south of the Lake (might be worth knowing about in the event of strong winds off the lake...) More information available at https://www.ohiobikeways.net/gmap.htm?id=6
, and https://www.adventurecycling.org/routes-and-maps/adventure-cycling-route-network/northern-tier/
Seriously, getting out of Pittsburgh is the biggest challenge!
Is there something that runs parallel to US 23 in Michigan to get you to ann arbor? Michigan is very grid-y with lots of farm roads so I guess you could wind your way on them until you reach A2...
There seem to be a couple decent options on the MI end - midwestern grids, as you mention.
I'm considering taking the Panhandle trail out of Pittsburgh and then cutting through Ohio from Steubenville. It adds a few miles and vertical feet, but also adds a few more off road segments. I haven't looked closely at all the connecting bits though.
Once in western Ohio, check out the North Coast Inland Trail, which runs close to the OH turnpike. I rode it recently and it was a pretty nice trail. It may or may not work out for your route.