Montour + Panhandle Trail
Erok and I spend Friday on our bikes exploring two local trails neither of us has touched before – The Montour and Panhandle Trails. We rode Carson St out to McKees Rocks and then onto Neville Island. Weird place, 3 miles or so of dead flat, dead straight road that kind of smells like a toilet bowl. After getting some route tips from Steevo, we hit the beginning of the Montour Trail right at the 79/51 interchange. Rode it for 20 miles or so until this big trestle bridge where it connects with the Panhandle Trail. Took this until it ended in Carnegie somewhere, and found out way back via Noblestown Rd. 65 miles or so total, great day on the bike.
The trails are pretty nice, not quite in the condition of the Yough trail, but similar. Parts had a fair amount of loose rock on them. The Montour was definitely the better maintained of the two, and had some water stops along it while the Panhandle had none. Typical out in the sun style, so bring your sunblock There was a really cool pond on the backside of what may have been a rock quarry or something towards the Carnegie end of the Pandhandle trail that had s nice layer of soap-like scum across it, but seemingly was just fine for the koi and other fish and turtles living in it.
Favorite part? The usual stupidity we get ourselves into. Like when I dropped a can of cola from my jersey pocket, it sprung a leak, I immediately opened it and proceeded to hose us each down with some warm cola, much to the liking of a person walking nearby. Or when we stopped in the only shade along the trail at the time, that cast by a port-a-jon, so Erok could sit in the rocks and gather his head and stomach from the previous night’s imbibing. Saw Reddan on the way home holding down a lane in the Southside.
Good ride, good ride, Definitely recommend the route for anyone looking for a fairly long, mostly flat ride. Even the ride out of Carnegie via Noblestown wasn’t bad. A few rolling hills, but no real grinders.
I don’t ride out that way as much as I should, but there are some really swell roads south and west of Carnegie.
Both of those are great trails. I’ve ridden it home from my wife’s work before. Gently rolling and beautiful.
The Panhandle trail is also a nice alternative to Noblestown Rd from Carnegie to McDonald. Although the downside is all the residents think you should be on that trail no matter what.
ha, that’s exactly what brad said. i was amazed at how polite people were when you had to cross a street. they stopped. and waited for us to cross.
I’ve kicked off my long rides for each of my last few summers with a Pittsburgh-Montour Trail-Pittsburgh loop, starting out the same way you guys did the Montour-Panhandle loop.
Note that (as of last year) the “trail” through Glassport on the return trip is actually “the bumpiest alleys we could find”, making the roads far more preferable if you come back on that side of the river.
I did the bulk of the Montour a few weekends ago; 35 out and 35 back. I think I ended up down in Bethel Park before having to turn around at an old railroad bridge that had been closed off. There’s an on-road detour around the 50/980 intersection that lasts maybe a mile, and one or two other small on-road detours after that, but otherwise it’s a pretty smooth ride. The worst part is dealing with the crossings around the Robinson area.
I might ride the Montour from Coraopolis out to the Panhandle connector, then ride the Panhandle out to West Virginia and back as a fully-loaded warm-up the weekend before the CTC ride.
Oh man, I’m jealous. Never done these trails myself. Erok, did you check out that bike x-ing intersection that bob talked about at the UCC meeting? Also, Erok and Brad, you should do the infamous Potato Garden ride sometime that Oscar writes about in his book. Goes out through Carnegie and god knows where. Ended up coming within a stones throw of the airport and then descended into Hopewell. Did that ride last year Mayhew, Bjanaszek, and Robbie (not sure if he posts here or not). Anyways, it was epic.
Erok: I did the whole thing back in ye olde days when I was even fatter and slower. I went the opposite way; down to Clairton via McKeesport and Glassport, then up the trail to Coraopolis and back home. There were some “interesting” on-road detours then, but my understanding is that most of the sections of trail are now linked up. Fun ride; I’d be up for a repeat one of these days.
Scott: +1 on Potato Garden. Still one of my favorites, although the rollers on top of the ridge can be a stone byotch to ride in high winds. We used Potato Garden as part of the 200K route a few weeks back, and I thought I was gonna get lynched by some of the other riders after that leg
I found out about the panhandle trail after riding to weirton on freaking roller after roller after roller and seeing this thin line down below the
entire time, when I got into town, I saw the trail
and the map that showed the road I was on had paralleled it for like 15 miles.
More awesome than potato garden is the SUPER SECRET
road that is closed in 1 direction (like no trespassing signs only on 1 entrance) that is
literally on airport property. It connects imperial to clinton.
CLINTON A CLASSIC REST STOP ON A COLD DAY… THEY HAVE TABLES TO STAND AT LIKE A EUROPEAN COFFEE SHOP (in chew voice)
I’ve ridden the Panhandle trail to Weirton twice. Well once really. The first time was one of my worst days on the bike.
The trail is pretty unimproved for quite a few miles. and the remaining RR ballast will give your tires the beat down. I got about 6 flats the first time,ran out of patches and tubes, walked my way to Bavington, and was picked up by my brother who happened to be to be diving down 22 west headed to Ohio from DC. I ended up throwing out both tires (28mm paselas) because of the sidewall cuts.
I rode the whole thing during Ken’s Touch Ohio ride last summer . Still no fun, but no flats. I think I was running much bigger tires, maybe even 45mm knobbies. On the way back I took the road that parallels the trail for the section that isn’t finished. I was glad to take the rollers over the rocks.
I know what you mean about that unimproved stretch. A summer or two ago I rode that for about half a mile until I began to fear for my tires and turned back. I think I read on the Panhandle web site that the whole thing is finished now.
I am going to ride the pan handle to weirton. im taking my 9yr old daughter, she’s been riding with me for the last 2 years. Any way i have a few questions. Ill get on at the Walkers Mill road. I need to know where i can stealth camp? are there ant single track to ride on the way. Is there anywhere close to the trail head in WV to camp stealthy like?
i did the whole montour last year on a 3 speed. starting in Sq. hill to Clairton and then to Neville Island and back on 51 to the city.
neat ride. amazing how much use the trail gets by locals out in the McMurray/USC area. …good for them!
Also, did a running route from McMurray to Morganza rd. and back on foot recently and now they have the tunnel and trestle open that cuts out the steep hill on Georgetown Road to Morganza road.
hmm didn’t go that far south to know about camping.
the section we did was definitely rougher than the montour, but we were still able to keep up a decent clip. i never feared for my tires.
Reggie, sorry I am not familiar enough to recommend camping. I know the part that I was near was pretty isolated, maybe 20 miles out of weirton.
I would probably think twice about camping along the Panhandle. Until they set up designated camping areas, you’ll never know if you’re setting up in someone’s yard, farm, or otherwise private property. The whole thing out and back is only something like 60 miles, so you could easily just make it a day trip. If you really want to do bike camping, just do the Allegheny Passage.
I don’t know if you’re going to see a lot of natural beauty out there, unless you actually want to spend an evening camping in the middle of an old strip-mine. But it could end up being an adventure, so good luck.
well wsh6232 if i was going to ride this by my self i would ride down and back in one day. but im taking my 9yr old. she; is a strong rider but dont think she’ up to 60m in a day. plus i have been told there are some sections off the trail that have some good single track. figured we would screw around on that for a few hours. we ride the A.P. a lot especially from mckeesport to ohiopyle. its been probably 8 years since i rode the muonour and have never ridden the panhandle.looking for new places all the time. if any one knows where i can do completely or mostly off road and off bike trails? really want to do mostly single track.
I do remember seeing seeing some sections off the trail that looked ideal for mountain biking, but I’m not sure how extensive any of the single track trails are. You see a lot of local kids on dirt bikes out in those parts.
The (possibly former) tire-shredding section of the Panhandle trail is outside the Montour trail beltway, in the vicinity of Joffre and Burgettstown.
It would be great if there were a trail all the way out to Burgettstown. I don’t go to many stadium shows, but I’d like to have the option without having to play chicken with drunk drivers on the way back.
If the weather holds up I’ll be checking out the Montour this weekend, probably Sunday.
Finally got to the Montour today, got in 40 miles (20 in, 20 back) and was just clipped by some light rain in the last two miles. Really nice trail, easy ride, and the folks at the crossings really are surprisingly nice. I suddenly felt rude taking a drink at a stop when I realized traffic had stopped so I could cross.
-2 beavers (one living, one dead)
-2 yellow bird things
-3 red bird things
-1 black racer
Insects injured in head-on collisions: 1900
Insects caught in my beard: 25
My butt is so numb.
well we did the panhandle it was fun only went as far as burgettstown rode in bavington stealth camped right outside game lands boarder. it was cool. definitely will ride it again.
nice, thanks for the report. how close to the post-gazette pavillion can you get?
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