Route from Amtrak Station to Homestead

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MarylandDave
Participant
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Can someone recommend a bike route from the Amtrak station to Homestead that uses the Homestead Grays bridge? It seems the 837 route is not very safe.


reddan
Keymaster
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If it were me, I’d go Grant St–>Eliza Furnace Trail->Second Ave/885–>Glenwood Bridge–>837 towards Homestead.


edmonds59
Participant
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^that


Ahlir
Participant
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The bit at the end of the Glenwood Bridge is a bit iffy since it’s essentially a highway interchange. There’s construction at the moment, which I’m not sure is good (things get slow) or bad (road narrows to one lane). I usually ride the bridge sidewalk, then carry my bike down the stairs at the end (what can I say? I’m a wimp). If you have a lot of baggage that may not work. Depending on when you’re coming by you might consider going either through the Sandcastle or Whemco properties, which lets you avoid a fast section of highway. If you’re a tough dude, do as the previous posters suggest.

If you want to get there using the Homestead Grays Bridge you’ll have to go through town and up and down some hills. It’s longer. Roughly, you’d go up Liberty (or a parallel street) to the end, left on Center to Highland, turn right then jog over to Shady, left on Fifth then right on Beechwood. Go to the end; you will be at the top of Brownsville Road; turn left. This will take you down to and over the bridge. Don’t worry, we can draw you a map.


cburch
Participant
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Browns HILL Rd.


Steven
Participant
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Or you could take the Eliza Furnace Trail to the Junction Hollow Trail, which puts you on Forbes at Craig. Then up Forbes (which has a bike lane for the climbing part) to quiet Northumberland, to Beechwood (bike lane), and continue to Browns Hill Road as Ahlir suggested. Most of the climbing is very gradual.


Ahlir
Participant
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Quite.

What can I say: way too many BrownsX referents in Western Pennsylvania. What, by the way, is that all about? Is it one guy, or was like every other family name “Brown”? I knew I shouldn’t have skipped those toponomastics lectures in college…


mark
Participant
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take the trail out of the point, go down it till the bridge is over your head, turn right, go over the bridge, come back across the bridge, go through sandcastle parking lot to waterfront, escape to homestead


edmonds59
Participant
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Ok. Or just Eliza Furnace trail to Greenfield Ave to Browns Hill. There will be climbing.


MarylandDave
Participant
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Thanks for the ideas, everybody. Our main goal is to get from Amtrak to Homestead with a minimum of traffic and maximum of safety. We’ll have heavily loaded bikes and are not in any hurry. We don’t mind hills. The websites for the GAP trail say not to use 837, so I thought a logical route would take us over the Homestead Grays Bridge. It looks like Swinburne to Greenfield to Hazlewood to Browns Hill is a possible route – but how to get from Amtrak to Swinburne? I don’t see Eliza Furnace Trail on the map.


chefjohn
Participant
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Eliza Furnace Trail (referred to by locals as Jail Trail) paralells 2nd Ave from Ross St. downtown to Greenfeild Ave. in lower Greenfeild. Be aware there is a small detour that will make you have to cross 2nd Ave. twice in order to stay on the trail (no big deal) and Greenfeild Ave. from bottom to top is a SERIOUS climb even without a fully loaded bike. Good Luck!


mark
Participant
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MarylandDave
Participant
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Thanks so much, Mark, for the detailed Google route. Looks like the Glenwood Bridge shown on it is the better way than the Homestead Grays Bridge (I should not have gotten hung up on the Homestead Bridge route)

Thanks too to Chefjohn for more info on an alternate route.

Would be helpful if Mark’s Google route was explicitly posted on the GAP website. (Maybe it is and I missed it…)


mark
Participant
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this route is probably not publicly posted because it uses the sandcastle parking lot, you should note that this is not a possible route when sandcastle is closed 11a-6p with a little buffer on both sides (and closes for the season in two weeks, check the sandcastle website for exact dates and times). Eventually this route will be open all the time because it’s the future path of the Great Allegheny Passage. On weekends you can stick to the trail a bit longer by crossing over the river on the hotmetal pedestrian bridge and heading up the trail on that side, during the week it is under construction. If you choose this path on the weekend you can walk the last quarter mile between the end of the trail on the southside and the sandcastle parking lot.


John
Participant
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I’m guess you guys are taking the train in to town then riding the trail toward DC. [Edit after seeing Mark’s last update: map of possible weekend route.]

http://ridewithgps.com/routes/599604

They’re supposed to complete this section of trail sometime next year…


MarylandDave
Participant
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Again, thanks. I see we’ll need to plan a bit to avoid a closed parking lot at Sandcastle. I also got some ideas from Google when I asked for a route that went near the Magee Playground. With all these options, I’m sure we’ll figure it out. Yes, we’re taking Amtrak from DC to Pittsburgh to ride the trail/C&O back. http://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=amtrak+station,+Pittsburgh,+Pennsylvania+15207&daddr=magee+playground+to:homestead,+pa&hl=en&ll=40.425127,-79.95575&spn=0.061811,0.110378&sll=40.433229,-79.956093&sspn=0.061803,0.110378&geocode=FegfaQIdY2g7-yHfCsYT-Fzxkw%3BFTXXaAIdrEE8-yEHqOuUCa4ySA%3BFY6LaAIdxaM8-ynHATNrJe40iDFTtkDmV31WjA&mra=ls&dirflg=b&z=13&lci=bike


Steven
Participant
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mark
Participant
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i would not go up that hill no matter what, if sandcastle is closed you can just take 7th ave for a couple miles into homestead and then hop back on the official trail where it starts there. don’t go over the hill! its not a good idea! i promise!

if camping make sure to stop at husky haven campground, if b&b make sure to stop by lenoras in perryopolis, levi deal mansion in meyersdale, and stay in a lockhouse on the C&O if you can still get one.

eat pie at weavers in hancock either way! don’t skip great falls… ok that’s all my advice, unless you want more.


ejwme
Participant
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ok, don’t know enough about the trail bits, but the bridges…

Pittsburghers hate to cross bridges except during rush hour when they all try to cross them all at the same time (in cars). Depending on the way YOU attempt to cross them (in lane, on shoulder, on sidewalk (if the last two exist)), you may have interesting experiences, especially getting to and from the bridges, if you attempt it during rush hour.

Just trying to remind the locals that timing affects the comfort levels of the different routes, and I haven’t heard those that know better mention it explicitely so I figured I’d remind them :D

Dudes, “we” should set up an escort service guiding people to/from the end of the trai head to various locations, at least until the trail is done. That would make “us” awesome. (I don’t know who “we/us” is – I’m one of those useless “idea people”)


mark
Participant
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i have led people from downtown out and mckeesport in multiple times and gotten paid for it! it is a service that people demand.


ejwme
Participant
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mark, I was totally thinking about you when I typed that, but wasn’t sure how to type it up properly…

Actually, just thinking about it, if I were doing a GAP ride, now knowing the service exists, I’d pay for it even in my home town. It’s like buying breakfast at the hotel – sure you could try and find cheaper fare at a local cafe in a strange city on your own, or you could follow the path of least resistance, eat a bagel in your PJs, and sort it out later. On vacation, the path of least resistance often makes the vacation feel more like a vacation :D

you should totally advertise more. Or maybe I should go do things that would allow me to see your existing advertising more ;)


edmonds59
Participant
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That service would have to be sponsored, though, since apparently nothing can exist without sponsorship, like “The Consol Energy GAP trail escort, powered by clean magical unicorns”.


humblesage
Participant
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“The Consol Energy GAP trail escort, powered by clean magical unicorns”.

haha… Love it!


ejwme
Participant
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dude, I would pay a LOT of money to be escorted by a clean magical unicorn to the GAP trailhead from my house. Bonus tip if it has a sparkley rainbow mane and communicates via telepathy.


mark
Participant
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i can totally be a clean magical unicorn so this will work out.


mark
Participant
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the times i haven’t done this through venture outdoors I’ve gotten $50 twice (this was 2-4 people) and ~$100 once (this was a larger group of people who all pitched in ‘tips’).


MarylandDave
Participant
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OK. It’s now October 13, 2011 and we’ve completed our Pittsburgh to DC tour. Had a really, really great trip. Here is how we did the leg from the city to Homestead: Started at Quality Inn University Center and went a short distance to the Hotmetal Bridge. We crossed this on the bike lane with no problems. On the south side of the river we picked up the bike route that runs upstream toward Homestead, and kept on it till the bitter end. I do mean the bitter end – where there is a big chain link fence across the path and a NO TRESPASSING sign. Just on our right was the railroad line, which was of course very much in use. We pushed our bikes along the railroad bed (had plenty of room to do that)about 200 yards and came to a point under the Glenwood Bridge. Here we found a locked gate that went into the Sandcastle Park. This we expected, since the Park was closed for the season. So we went up a gentle hill and swung onto Route 837, following that road to Homestead. It was a rainy Saturday morning and we pedaled without too much drama along with traffic the short distance into Homestead. Here we picked up the GAP trail.

All in all, not a bad route as it turned out. Most of it was on bike paths, and there were no real hills to speak of. I should mention that, as we walked our bikes along the railroad tracks there was a scrap metal operation just to our left – and when we got back to the road near the Sandcastle gate there was an office of the scrap metal company on the right. A very helpful fellow in there gave us directions – and was most friendly to bicyclists. He said his company was donating property to the bike trail. Congratulations to him!

Thanks for all your advice and ideas in this forum. I hope our experience will be of help to others.


edmonds59
Participant
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Great news!


Marko82
Participant
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Glad to hear that you made it through without too much fuss. Hopefully we’ll have a completed trail through there for your next visit.

Some related infrastructure has just gone in at Homestead:

http://bike-pgh.org/blog/2011/10/13/first-cycle-track-in-pa-installed-in-munhall/


rsprake
Participant
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That’s pretty rad that the scrap metal place helped you and even bragged that they were donating some of their land for the trail.

Glad you had a good trip. Any photos?

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