An alternate Dirty Dozen
I’m toying with the idea of coming up with a list of 12 or 13 stupidly difficult hills to bike up that are not on the current DD list. For these, I would include difficulties of traffic as much as steepness, though being steep or long would be a prerequisite.
A few that come to mind:
1 – Crane Ave, going east off of Banksville
2A – Steuben out of the West End
2B – alternative: Neidel St, a block away, much less traffic but a moonscape surface
3 – McKnight Rd southbound from Nelson Run Rd past Ivory and the I-279 on ramp (some of this is within city limits)
4 – Federal Street
5 – Dornbush St in the East End
6 – Hodgson Ave on the Ingram Boro line
7 – Churchill St, McKees Rocks
Some of these are streets I’ve personally had to bike up, a few of them frequently, though I’ve never been on Dornbush or Crane on a bike. For those, I’m going by the reputation of others.
I tried to stay within or very near the city, but I don’t get south or east very much.
There must be others.
2B: Both Neidel St and Walbridge St both start in the same spot, and are both very steep, with Neidel being more of a goat path. Both are steeper than Steuben, I think.
Off the top of my head,
– Homer St., plus a little bit of Buente St, in Spring Hill
– Potomac, from Banksville
– Rising Main in Fineview. Short, but has Henderson as warm-up
– Greenleaf St. in Duquesne Heights.
– 12th St plus Brosville St. in South Side
– Herron Ave is quite steep in parts
– Buena Vista St in North Side (cobbles, baby!)
– Columbo St in Garfield. Starts at Negley, and goes all the way to the water tower
Some folks have trouble with Negley up from Fifth. And in terms of combining traffic with a hill, there’s always Greenfield up from the EFT.
While I was searching for an alternative to Ardmore I rode up North Ave into Chalfant for a while; that was challenging.
Bigelow St in Greenfield is long but doesn’t have much traffic.
If you really want a long hill with dangerous traffic, there’s Forward up from 9 mile run to Beechwood. People fly around those blind curves. (For anyone that needs to go this way, ascending through Frick park is a much better idea.)
To do Bigelow Street, first do Greenfield up to Sylvan, then Sylvan up to the base of paved Bigelow, i.e., the top of the steps.
In the case of Steuben, I looked at the sidewalk along there. There essentially isn’t any. It’s got to be close to a 10% grade and there is no shoulder to speak of, either. Plus, it is THE way to get west into that part of the city. I haven’t tried Walbridge, but I’ve biked both directions on Neidel in the last few months. It pops you out right at the top of the difficult part of Steuben.
I agree, Negley south off of Fifth is quite the climb with a lot of traffic.
Itin St is another Spring Hill challenge.
Beech St, off Spring Garden to just north of Northview Heights, is a full quarter mile at somewhere between 16 and 20% (average).
Milroy, off East up to Perrysville at Marshall.
Montana, off Perrysville, is only 400 feet long, but it’s an average 17%. Plus, it reaches (nearly) the highest point in the city!
Blessing to Webster is not easy, and if traffic is a factor, the several near-blind curves add to the difficulty index.
Any of the streets that climb Upper Lawrenceville, but especially Kent–Kendall–Celadine and 57th–Christopher. If you include both lower and upper McCandless, you get three out of the four major road surfaces (asphalt, block, and brick, no concrete…)…
I recommend riding from the bottom of Herron Ave up to the hill, then left on Milwaukee up to the park with the water tower. In that one long climb you go from Strip/Lawrenceville over the busway, up the S curve and through Polish Hill, across Bigelow into the hill and up to the water tower, which has an amazing view in all directions. Maybe not as difficult or steep as others, but you basically get no break from climbing, starting at almost river level to possibly the highest point between the Allegheny and Mon.
It is, indeed, the highest point in Pittsburgh between the Allegheny and the Mon. In Pittsburgh, only the North Hills is higher. Folks who grew up there (called “Sugar Hill”) remember looking down at houses on Mt. Washington.
Just past Liberty tube South. Four mile climb to Mt. Lebanon… Gradual, but long.
Another suggestion is Redgate Road, just East of Sewickley. Buffalo and I rode up that hill on a Weekend Hills Ride, a couple of years ago. Nasty uphill, rivaling any true dirty dozen hill. A downhill into Glenfield, where speeds over 40 mph can be reached.
If anyone ever wants to do the Oakmont Dirty Dozen…Hulton Rd/ Coxcomb Hill Rd (Climb #1) to Logans Ferry Rd. Take Logans Ferry Rd (Climb #2) to Sardis Rd. Then descend down Old Leechburg Rd. then climb Myers Drive (Climb #3) to PSU New Ken. Those three climbs are ~1500′ in less than 12 miles. The descents are rather quick at over 40 mph. Wait till late summer and you can take Coxcomb Hill Rd down after they have tarred/chipped to get added excitement!
Ah, so many choices…
Somewhat recent ones that come to mind:
1) Colombo up to Garfield (*)
2) 57th up to Stanton Heights (*)
3) from Etna, Washington up to Friday
4) Saline up from Imogene to Beechwood
5) Whitaker Way up to, um, Whitaker
6) Commercial/Forward up to Beechwood
7) Brushton, from Homewood up to the water tower
(*) already noted
So okay, these aren’t super hard, nor do they attract notably crazy traffic. But for us 2nd tier crankers, they’re hard enough.
if needs more challenging, federal is kinda gradual compared to other hills going up from the northside to Fineview.
Also I second the Polish hill “s curve” of herron. plus brenton, polownia, etc.
Don’t sleep on some of the hills in Oakland. Robinson or Darragh are a biitch to bike up.
As @andyc said, Forward Avenue from where Nine Mile Run trail crosses the road, to Forward at Beechwood, is a tough one. The section from the bottom to Summerset Drive is tough (despite being not that steep) due to of a lack of sidewalks, tight curves, and fast traffic; the portion from there to Beechwood is tough due to sheer steepness and very narrow sidewalks (the traffic here, although not going as fast as lower down the hill, is going faster than practical on a bike, and there is not enough room to comfortably and safely ride next to the motor vehicles).
I recommend Soho St in the Hill District from Centre Ave to Wylie Ave. It’s very steep AND the first half is belgian block. I tried to do it once and failed. I consider Forward Ave from the Irish Centre to Beechwood Blvd easy, by comparison.
Here are a few mentionable hills.
- Powers Run Rd. from Freeport Rd. to Camberwell Dr. — O’Hara Twp.
- Montier St./Laketon Rd. From Park Ave. to Graham Blvd. — Wilkinsburg
- Beulah Rd. from Long Rd. to Frankstown Rd. — Penn Hills
- Beulah Rd. from Long Rd. to McCrady Rd. — Churchill
- Penn Ave. from Ardmore Blvd. to Graham Blvd. — Wilkinsburg
- Negley Ave. from 5th Ave. to Dunmoyle St. — Squirrel Hill
- Dinwiddie St. from 5th Ave. to Centre Ave. — Hill District
- Kirkpatrick St. from 5th Ave. to Centre Ave. — Hill District
- Aiken Ave. from Mossfield St./Black St. to Hillcrest St. — Garfield
- Riddle Run Rd. from Freeport Rd. to Murrayhill Rd. — Springdale Twp./Frazer Twp.
- Ross St. from 6th Ave. to 10th Ave. — Tarentum
Edgebrook, Whited, and Glenbury are the three through roads from saw mill run Blvd up to Brookline Blvd. They’re all pretty good climbs on narrow twisty roads with a fair amount of traffic. Whited used to be a part of my commute home. It’s a toughy, but not really in the same league as the DD hills I’ve ridden.
Whited is fun, sort of. (narrow, traffic, …) And there’s Greenwood in Morningside which is pretty steep, but I guess not steep enough for the DD’s.
I once thought that any street with steps for a sidewalk should qualify as a tough climb. Unfortunately that’s not always true. Consider places like N. Pacific at Kincaid in Garfield… [which, for some reason, has yet to show up as a tag-o-rama tag. That allegator is so cool. But I digress.]
I’ve experimented with “alternate dirt dozen hills” and have a few hills that weren’t mentioned, some of them equally as difficult as DD hills.
Mooney Road (Lincoln Place) 0.38 miles long with a 15% avg gradient
Wallbridge (West End) 0.25 miles with a 13.1% avg gradient
Ferndale (East Hills) 0.09 miles with a 22.8% avg gradient, also peaking at 44% which is steeper than Canton Ave
Capital (Brookline) 0.4 miles? 11.9% avg gradient with belgian blocks for the entire climb
54th > Kent Way > Kendall St > 55th St (Upper Lawrenceville) 0.47 miles with an 11% gradient, and a very nasty cobbled climb on Kendall
Colerain > Newett (Carrick) 0.53 miles with an 11% avg gradient
Brookside > Sebring (Beechview) 0.6 miles with an 8% gradient, but Brookside is at least 12-13% avg
Here’s a route I put together a while back. For the sake of comparison, the DD is roughly 55 miles and 6500 feet of climbing. This alternate route is 54 miles and 6400 ft of climbing.
Start at Bike PGH
1 – Herron up to the the reservoir
Warhol Bridge to Northside
2 – O’Hern
3 – Cutler, then circle north, around to
4 – Milroy
McKees Rocks Bridge to Sheraden
5 – Glasgow
6 – Greenleaf
traverse Mt Washington, down Williams and over to
7 – Sterling (and Eleanor)
8 – Woodford
9 – Mooney (underrated!)
Cross the Rankin Bridge
(extra credit for Earl in Braddock)
up 6th/Brinton to
10 – Dornbush
11 – Ferndale/Lawndale
12 – Kendall
End at Bike PGH
For the record, I’ve not done this all at once :)
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