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Murray Avenue ends at Hazelwood Avenue at 40.41972°N and -79.92814°W. You’d take Hazelwood Avenue only for a few metres onto Browns Hill Road at 40.41958°N and -79.92720°W. Small sections of Browns Hill Road do not have a sidewalk if you’re walking and the traffic moves pretty quickly along this corridor. This leads directly to the Homestead Grays Bridge. This offers pretty good views of the Waterfront.
As you exit the bridge you must cross at the traffic lights to recover the sidewalk to head along West 5th Avenue at 40.40746°N and -79.91419°W. You can make a quick stop at “The Stacks” located at 40.40477°N and -79.91799°W. You pick up the Great Allegheny Passage Trail just beyond the corner of Waterfront Drive and West 5th Street at 40.40349°N and -79.91970°W. You’d be following the section of the trail that’s heading due east. The trail heads toward Point State Park in downtown Pittsburgh in the opposite direction. That leg is a fairly easy approximately 10 mile trek.
You can opt to walk through the Waterfront Shopping Area and pick up the Pedestrian Bridge over West Waterfront Drive at 40.40833°N and -79.91770°W. The better part of this trek along the banks of the Monongahela River begins on the opposite side of that pedestrian bridge at 40.40885°N and -79.91837°W. Along the trail there’s a lot of restaurants and pubs. Most interesting are the views of the river. It’s not unusual to see Canada Geese about the river.
The walking trail exits onto the sidewalk along East Waterfront Drive at 40.41440°N and -79.89960°W. It’s only a very short walk to the Homestead Labyrinth at 40.41421°N and -79.89825°W. There’s a lot to see, do, and reflect upon at this spot. If you’re lucky you may even see the train go along the labyrinth. The Great Allegheny Passage continues heading along East Waterfront Drive to the Rivers of Steel Pump House & Water Tower located at 40.41298°N and -79.89631°W. This was the site of the 1892 Battle of Homestead.
The Rivers of Steel Section of the Great Allegheny Passage begins just past Bristol Metal at 40.40754°N and -79.88854°W. This trail is very clearly marked and unfortunately it’s paved. It is also a shared trail so you would encounter many cyclists, walkers, joggers, and people walking dogs. I’ve been fortunate to see a few birds of prey, rabbits, and deer along this section of the trail.
The trail goes under the Rankin Bridge at 40.40461°N and -79.88212°W. Unusually, there’s a bench placed there looking out at the river. You’re walking next to a very busy railroad at this point. The trail crosses the railway lines at the Whitaker Bridge at 40.40176°N and -79.87805°W. On the other side of this bridge you’d be crossing from the Munhall area into the West Mifflin area. Additionally you’re now some distance away from the banks of the river. Along this section of the trail there are a few picnic tables, benches, and a memorial for someone who died along the trail possibly. The upper banks are loose and when I traversed the trail this evening a section had given way sending very large rocks down the incline onto the trail.
You get a relatively good view of the Braddock Locks and Dam further along the trail. There are a couple of very small waterfalls along this section of the trail as well. The trail continues past the Kennywood Park Amusement Park at 40.38933°N and -79.86316°W. Just beyond there you’d find a martialling area for trail volunteers. It contains a water pump, air pump, and a portable washroom. In addition it has a small picnic area with a view of the river. The trail continues running just below but parallel to Commonwealth Avenue in the City of Duquesne. There is another railway crossing bridge located at 40.38259°N and -79.85376°W. There is a major road crossing at Grant Avenue at 40.37386°N and -79.84451°W. The trail then continues along what’s labelled as Braddock Historic Road past mostly warehousing facilities along South Linden Street. There’s a small picnic table just off the trail beyond the South Linden Street tunnel at 40.36356°N and -79.84200°W.
This trail continues under the South Duquesne Boulevard Bridge at 40.25998°N and -79.84522°W. The trail has its own crossing via the McKeesport Connecting Railroad Bridge at 40.35832°N and -79.84745°W. This is a lovely structure spanning the Monongahela River and affords very good views of the South Duquesne Boulevard Bridge, South Duquesne, and McKeesport. The bridge makes landfall on the McKeesport side of the Monongahela River at 40.35555°N and -79.84764°W. It continues onto Industry Road and connects to the McKees Point Trailhead at 40.35445°N and -79.86876°W. Today I stopped just past 40.35544°N and -79.84973°W because of fading daylight and made the long trek back to Squirrel Hill mostly following the same path. However, the trail through McKeesport is relatively simple and well marked. Within a few minutes it's easy to get to the Youghiogheny River and the McKees Point Trailhead. The only real diversion was through the East Waterfront Drive area I chose to use the sidewalk back to the Waterfront and not the trail because of icy conditions.
The Great Allegheny Passage goes along to Washington D.C. and is an approximately 342 mile one way journey. This is highly recommended as a summer hiking trip or biking adventure. On my trek back through Braddock this evening I bumped into a backpacker calling himself “Bloom” [trailname as is common in the hiking fraternity] and his dog. He said they’ve been trekking for just over a year now from the West Coast. Hats off to you and your dog Bloom! You've emancipated yourself from a world of abstraction, false security and material excess. I certainly hope that our trails cross again. Godspeed.
“It should not be denied... that being footloose has always exhilarated us. It is associated in our minds with escape from history and oppression and law and irksome obligations, with absolute freedom, and the road has always led West.”
Wallace Stegner (1909 - 1993).