The present state of the GAP
I have a friend that’s going to try to ride the GAP next weekend… I haven’t done the new sections since they’ve been officially open, so I (she) has a couple questions before she sets off.
#1 The detour for the water plant thing is still active, right? does it still open saturday mornings?
#2 Would a person with no knowledge of the trail be able to set off from the jail trail and get to mckeesport without any further instruction? if not what would the further instruction be? (for example is the link between the waterfront trail and the railroad crossing well marked? What about from the end of the bridge in mckeesport to the start of the trail in mckeesport?)
#3 how early do the sandcastle gates open
1. Yes, it’s still closed during the week, and open on weekends.
2. The parts that aren’t open yet aren’t marked (nor some parts in Homestead that are), so she’d need some kind of instructions.
Roughly: Go to the end of the Baldwin Borough Trail. Continue 800 feet on the railroad ballast under the Glenwood Bridge to the road (Haysglen Street) and turn left, then right into Sandcastle. Go through Sandcastle. Get on the Waterfront Drive sidewalk and bear left past Costco and the multiplex. At the pedestrian bridge over Waterfront Drive, take the bike trail on the left, and when it ends, continue left on the Waterfront Drive sidewalk, around the big blue building (Marcegaglia), and get on the trail again. Continue on the trail to McKeesport and follow the markings along Locust Street, down the sidewalk on Lysle, and right into the trail parking lot under the Fifth Avenue Bridge, where the GAP resumes. I think the McKeesport section is pretty well marked.
She may want to print out the PDF map from here first: http://www.steelvalleytrail.org/trail.htm
Also, Google Maps in bike mode now shows the entire trail from the pedestrian bridge under the Homestead Greys Bridge down through McKeesport.
(Edited to add details.)
I was hoping they’d open the gates earlier than they open the park… probably foolishly!
Good point. I have no idea whether they open the gates before they open the park at 11 (for employees to get in, perhaps). Or whether they’d let cyclists through during that time.
May I clarify that when we say, “go through sandcastle”, the intent is to go through the SC parking lot, and then on the SC access road that heads toward the smokestacks?
The first time I went “through Sandcastle” I rode through the water park section, which was not very effective.
Yes, the parking lot. If pedaling gets hard and everything’s turned blue and wavy, you are too far north. Climb out and return to the asphalt.
this is what i said for leaving on a friday… anything too confusing or big that was left out?
leave from bloomfield approx 10:30a and head down s. milvale into oakland eventually making your way down neville into schenely park which becomes boundary street at the bottom of the hill. take boundary street deeper into the park and you will see a gated trail access to the left, take that trail to its end (the huge underpass, don’t go under it!) where you will hop left onto irvine street which takes you through hazelwood to the glenwood bridge. cross the glenwood bridge, on the other side take two quick lefts going back towards the river and you will find a small road that crosses the railroad tracks into the sandcastle parking lot. ride through the lot to the waterfront and when you hit the big intersection at the end of the sandcastle drive turn left and follow the sidewalk around the bend till you see the big pedestrian bridge that cross the 4+ lane road beside you. that pedestrian bridge is where the trail starts so turn left off the sidewalk and follow the path, it will lead you around the majority of the waterfront on a bike/ped trail that is between all the businesses and the river. This path ends at a sidewalk and you will follow that around a big blue build till the trail starts again on the other side. You can follow this trail over three bridge and underneath kennywood to mckeesport. In mckeesport continue on the markings along Locust Street, down the sidewalk on Lysle, and right into the trail parking lot under the Fifth Avenue Bridge, where the GAP resumes and you can follow that all the way to cumberland! You can camp your first day in the dravo cemetary… a nice little campground, make sure you explore the whole area before you pitch your tent, there are lots of little nooks and crannies. I’m guessing that this will take the better part of 4 hours so you might want to either leave later than that or push a little further. 30 city miles is much more stressful than 45 trail miles though, so you might want to just cool it and hang out in the cemetary/river… i bet you could get some folks to meet you there, its only like a 1 hour drive from the city. if you want to go further cedar creek is an ok option but I don’t remember much about it… it is 12 miles further. your next day to ohiopyle will be about 50 miles (or 38 if you end up at cedar creek) and that night you can pick whatever campground you find (maybe earlier into the park). The next day is about 30 miles into Rockwood, stay at the husky haven campground, it will take you at most 4 hours of riding to do this day, so think about where you are going to spend that other 10 hours of daylight. I would suggest Kentuck Knob, the natural water slides, or the hike i told you about in ohiopyle behind the Falls City Pub. There is a really good lunch option in connelsville if you cross the bridge into the town and then turn left and go to the end of that road, falls city pub also has good food if you hang in ohiopyle. Rockwood into Cumberland is the best stretch of the trail meyersdale and frostburg both have plenty of good lunch options, so no worries there.
Steven & Vannevar, good point, and the same could be said for being too far south as well. Tricky, that.
I’ve always thought it was ironic that they have an area called “Lazy River” right beside… a(n often) lazy river.
take that trail to its end (the huge underpass, don’t go under it!)
If she’s not familiar with the area, she might think this means not to go under the high bridge that carries the Parkway. Might want to say “Don’t follow the part of the trail that runs next to Greenfield Avenue under the railroad trestle and onto Second Avenue”, or make sure she has a map.
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