Long July 4th Weekend Running

Here are three streets runs which I sandwiched around my attempt at the Hell Hath No Hurry 50 Miler. Unfortunately, that race was on trails in Settler’s Cabin Park and so added nothing to my street total. I also only got in 38 miles, so DNFed. But I digress.


RATS Run #00423 in Squirrel Hill

This was such a short run I didn’t even bring my camera, or maybe it was that I ran before 7AM and wasn’t really awake. At any rate, I just took in Victory Way (top circle), Timberline Court (bottom circle) and the bottom piece of Forward Avenue (you have to find that by yourself.)


Hell Hath No Hurry

HHNH 38 miles, 6ish loops

RATS #00425 – West End and Elliott

Monday, July 5th, was a day off work with no big plans. So, of course, I explored the city some more. My “A” goal was a few snickering little streets in the West End. Every time I drove my them, I could hear them, snickering, “He hasn’t found US yet. Ha Ha!” Well, today, with candy bar in hand and a patriotic shirt on for good luck, I set out to end that snickering once and for all.

The first little snickerdoodle to go down was Plank Street. It is pretty much a driveway from the bottom of a cliff, across Wabash Street and into Saw Mill Run (the creek). The next peanut in the gallery was China Street. There’s no wonder I had missed it before, because little is there. A few cobblestones near the billboard at the bottom of Greentree Road traced where the street had been. Pushing through the undergrowth I could feel remains of a street, but everything else was overgrown. Some time ago, I think there were steps from China Street to the train line above. On maps it appears they would have almost connected with Journal Street steps in Ridgemont, but I don’t know if that actually was the case. At any rate, I didn’t see evidence of steps. Perhaps in the winter I would have.

From there, I crisscrossed under railroad trestles off of McKnight Street, as it plays jump-rope with Saw Mill Run. Several businesses still hang on down there, from Johnny’s Diner to TMT Services. I would not want to be here in a flash flood, with water crashing down off the hills.

From here I ventured up Noblestown Road. I’ve used it for many years as an alternate route when the Fort Pitt Tunnel is backed up. As a driver, I appreciate its curvy efficiency. As a pedestrian, I’m traumatized its lack of sidewalks. At least there is a small shoulder, and, if I would rather risk falling down a slope than getting hit by a car, I have the option of trotting on the far side of a guide rail. On a normal day, this would be pretty dangerous. However, with little going on and no traffic, it was OK. I feel bad for folks who use that bus stop on a regular basis, though.

Around the curve, I was rewarded by thundering applause from dozens of Kennywood prize animals watching my progress. (Or maybe it was just my thundering heartbeat!) Continuing, I came across the Old Stone Tavern, in operation nearly continually from the 1780’s well into the 2000’s. There is a group, “Pittsburgh’s Old Stone Tavern Friends Trust Inc.” which is trying to keep the tavern from falling into disrepair. I hope they succeed.

Old Stone Tavern

Another building, more of a garage, struck me. “Mike Mannella” is proudly emblazoned across the lintel. I didn’t get as much information about that building and am curious if anyone knows the story there.

Mike’s parking spot?

I returned a different way, down the Kerr Street steps, one of my favorite flights in the city.

Kerr Street Steps

RATS #00425 in Squirrel Hill

Less adventurous than my last run, this one took me around the “North of Forbes” section of Squirrel Hill. Large single family houses are intermixed with condos on the shady streets.

Off of the major streets like Wilkins, Negley and Fifth, little dead-end streets curve up the hill providing privacy for unique houses.

Down near CMU, I took a little street off of Morewood behind frat houses. It’s off-season and a deer family quietly watched me run by. Robin Way is listed on CityStrides as a street, but in fact it is a private drive. With that, I was done on this lazy summer evening.

North Shore, Carrick and Belthoover Finishing June 2021

RATS #00421

RATS #00421 was a quick six miler after work. My main targets were alleys near PNC Park and Heinz Field as well as re-doing Children’s Way near Allegheny Center. As it turns out, there had been a Pirates baseball game that day, so my alley running included spectator dodging.

Once I had put some distance between me and PNC Park, I ran along Reedsdale Street, as it goes under the T, which carries hopeful gamblers to the Casino. It was rather precarious to walk along but I did see a number of “Marcher Arrant” stickers plastered on poles and guard rails. He blew through town earlier this summer and walked much of it. This section of town is not meant for pedestrians. It is meant to funnel people to the stadiums and back out.

Finishing Reedsdale, I decided to circle back to North Canal Street by way of the Children’s Museum. I always forget that West Park has a train track running through it, and, that the West Ohio Bridge is under construction. Whoops! I couldn’t get through, and had to detour via take West North Avenue. Isn’t it against some rule to put “West” and “North” in the same street name? It should be!

Anyway, upon emerging from the other end of West Park, I passed Allegheny Traditional Academy, which I believe is a charter school, before going through a section of Children’s Way. There’s some cool stuff there, including the sculpture reCARstruction. The link has a video of its creation.

Moving on, I trotted up North Canal Street. It starts as a ramp off of East Ohio Street and cars zip down it, perhaps expecting to get on the interstate. However, as it sweeps past the railroad and a high-rise building, it becomes just another way to get to Giant Eagle. I found out later that there is another section of North Canal, even more obscure. I ended near my start on Goodrich Street, a cobblestone relic of the past, interrupted by ramps.


RATS #00422 in Beltzhoover and Carrick

RATS run #00422 was all about alleys. Alleys in Beltzhoover and alleys in Carrick. Those aren’t exactly adjacent neighborhoods, so this ended up being a long run. But, let’s start with Beltzhoover Alleys. They are generally gravel and overgrown. Some are nearly footpaths.

Here along the alleys, you see garages falling down, with weeds on their falling roofs, but for the most part they are free of garbage and dumping (unlike Homewood). Heck, you see houses falling down on the main streets, so there’s no surprise the garages on the alleys would be in disrepair as well. I do have to say that Belzhoover is an active community. There’s always someone walking their dogs, riding bikes, doing lawn work or otherwise out and about.

Buffington Road, sits at the bottom of a steep hill lined with ominous houses. It was gated off. I really hate that. The maps show a public street, but the owners apparently think its a private drive.

Anyway, I shook the Beltzhoover dust off my feet and crossed over to Borough Way, forming the border of Pittsburgh and Mount Oliver. From here, I zigged and zagged my way to several alleys in lower Carrick, ending in Sinton Way. Sinton is a staircase from Dartmore (near Saw Mill Run) to Lucina, where it flattens into a paved street. The steps in the picture below, however, are just in Phillips Park. My heart rate exploded going up those.


That’s about it, both for this run and for June. I finished June with a respectable 112 miles, which included another “Take the Stairs Fatass” 50k.

Majestic Archon Oil

RATS Run #00420

Majestic Archon Oil; no isn’t the latest renaming of Standard Oil, but rather three of the alleys I finished up on this run in Friendship and Garfield. Archon Way is just a short little garage access road in Friendship. It dead-ends into a shabby garage, festooned with car parts.

Moving up the hill into Garfield, I came across this massive white house which still holds some glory, in spite of the window bars and peeling paint. I also came across this new recent construction, or is it a brutalist building? Only the architect knows for sure.

Up in Garfield, I darted in and out of alleys. Oil Way is little more than a small driveway, while Majestic Way is a steep stone stab into the hill. At the top of the hill in Garfield, the greenery takes over. One alley ends in an empty lot, now a playground. Fannel Street is as green as a lawn-bowling court with a rabbit directing traffic.

Gretna Way took me around an old school. On the way down, a sidewalk was brightly colored with this wall of names. I’m not sure what that is about. Last but not least, the Cathedral of Learning stands tall in the evening sun, the view coming down North Pacific.

Too Mundane

Well, it had to happen sometime. Some readers might have thought it already happened, but this, this is one for the record books. Two very mundane runs. Not a lot to see, although I still took pictures, to make sure you, the reader, also realizes how mundane these runs were. If you fall asleep mid-post don’t blame me, blame your coffee.

RATS Run #00418 in Shadyside and East Liberty

RATS Run #00418 was a short run from Mellon Park to the end of the rainbow, Rainbow Street, that is. Adding to the whopping 2.69 miles, I turned the corner on Fifth and Penn (East Liberty Version) and ended up high-stepping through downed tree limbs while hoping I didn’t fall into the turning lane. Grrr

The end of Rainbow Street isn’t all it’s cracked up to be; just a busway entrance.

Now I traipsed through little streets which have recently blossomed across from Bakery Square. I’m not sure what kind of soil they’re using, but those trees look pretty sparse. The condos look modern and sleek, but still sparse.

This took me to the back of Mellon Park. Softball and kick-ball leagues were in full swing, so I dodged them and ran behind the tennis bubble, from an earlier ‘future’. Finishing out my miles, I made sure to go to the very end of Cornelius Way, off of Howe. With that, I was done.


RATS Run #00419 in Banksville

Now for another abject lesson in mundanity. I started at the corner of Banksville and Banksville. The little sideroad, Banksville Avenue branches off of the express lanes that are Banksville Road. Outbound drivers are just realizing they aren’t on the interstate anymore, while inbound drivers are gearing up for tunnel traffic. Anyway, a couple of hotels grace Banksville Avenue. Catering to the visitor traffic are an Eat ‘N Park and a piggy BBQ place.

Catering to wedding guests is The Boiler Room. It is temporarily closed, but hopefully that’s just a short-term Covid thing. I must say, while it doesn’t sound like an elegant wedding place, it certainly had the look. Behind “The Boiler Room”, Alpark Avenue stretches back nearly to the Parkway West. When I laid out my route, I took a peek at Google Streetview to see what I was getting myself into. I saw a street lined with cars parked in front of semi-permanent trailers. However, things have changed. All the trailers and cars are gone. Wild grape vines are taking over.

From here, I started up Crane Avenue. It’s a steep, winding road with narrow shoulders and no sidewalks. Prior to running up here, I thought there was nothing around, so no sidewalks kinda made sense. However, two of Pittsburgh’s largest apartment complexes are off of this road (Hyland and Crane Village). Additionally, there’s a bus-stop, orphaned from any pedestrian access; a park at the top of the hill and a restaurant at the bottom. C’mon Pittsburgh, you can do better!

East Entry Drive bears off to the left and conjures up the entrance to a mansion, but in reality is just a short drive to a self-storage facility. There are a few businesses and apartments wedged in there as well. Crane Village is a sprawling campus of garden apartments. I could see the UPMC building and Oxford Center peek through the trees before getting caught in a short downpour. It turned all the streets to rivers and my shoes into canoes, floating me down the hill.


If you made it this far, maybe these runs weren’t THAT mundane. Just be careful going up Crane Avenue.

Squirrel Hill to New Homestead

https://www.strava.com/activities/5471340806
RATS Run #00417 Summerset and New Homestead

For this run, I started in the upper reaches of South Squirrel Hill then made my way across the Monongahela to New Homestead. I parked near Forward and Beechwood and trotted down the hill to Summerset. It’s a nice development of newer houses built atop a slag heap. There’s a tree-lined entrance and sweeping views of the Mon. More importantly, it’s a shortcut to Dunkin Donuts and Bruster’s Ice Cream! Mark down THIS route.

Below Summerset, the Jewish Association on Aging has several housing facilities from apartments to assisted living. In addition to a high-rise, college-like buildings dot the well-maintained grounds. This little bird seemed out of place, hopping around on the sidewalk, chirping.

This leads to Browns Hill Road. Take the right and you’re at Brusters, with Dunkin Donuts at the next light. Alas, my trek took me down Browns Hill Road, where the sidewalks are iffy. Sometime you have them, sometimes you don’t. I crossed the street at an inopportune spot and got a gutter. Finally out on the Homestead High Level Bridge, I was treated with views of the Mon and a laden train far below.

Between the still-standing smokestacks and the ever-present railroads, reminders of the steel heritage of Homestead remain. This is roughly the site of the famous “Homestead Strike“. Just off the end of the bridge to the left is a bar, Blue Dust, named for the blue dust which covered steelworkers’ clothes after a shift.

But Homestead is not within the city limits of Pittsburgh, I was just passing through. Heading toward New Homestead I found a short-cut; steps leading from 8th Avenue to Basic Street. At the top of the steps, there is a view of the old smokestacks.

Turning again, I slogged up the steep hill which would take me back into the City of Pittsburgh. Beyond the impressive retaining wall, I found a little grotto. Perhaps it isn’t the safest place, what with rocks tumbling about, but the “Park Here” sign was certainly welcoming.

Rounding the corner, Basic Street enters New Homestead and becomes a paper street, disappearing for a half-mile. It is an area of half-acre yards and modest homes. According to CityStrides, Benezet and Bench Way continue, making a circle. Well, not really. They are more like street stubs with new construction going on.

New Construction

And that was about it. I retraced my steps out of New Homestead, passing the Bulgarian-Macedonian National Economic and Cultural Center (BMNECC, for short). Last time I checked, it operated as an event venue, for dances and parties, while its bulletin board had flyers for lessons in Bulgarian. Eventually I crossed the Homestead High-Level Bridge again, this time getting an evening view of Duck Hollow.

Hitting the Rocks Bottom

Route of RATS #00416 Across the McKees Rocks Bridge and into Chateau

It was a humid summer evening in the ‘Burgh. Clouds pregnant with rain hung heavy over the city. Steam from earlier rains rose up to greet the newborns. This was the evening of Tuesday, June 8 and I was struggling. Mapping out ‘efficient’ runs has become more difficult. So, I figured, I’d do a simple run; complete Brighton Heights Boulevard, cross the McKees Rocks Bridge and then find the OTHER piece of Branchport Street I had previously missed.

I parked on Termon Avenue and scampered toward the McKees Rocks Bridge. It is a little annoying that sidewalks disappear from one side of the road, forcing you to cross. Par for the course, I suppose. Crossing Route 65, where it hits the bridge is a lesson in patience, but doable. If I remember correctly, only one side of the bridge had an open sidewalk. Once I got there, though, I was rewarded with great views down the Ohio on the right and down into an Alcosan waste water treatment plant on the other.

I must say, those churning tanks were mesmerizing. So many of them! Some were empty and surprisingly deep; maybe ten feet or more. On an amusing note, there is a high chain-link fence right above those tanks, presumably to reduce the chance of people falling in or having debris thrown in, mucking up the plumbing.

Unfortunately, the high fence stopped and only a low barrier separated me, the runner, from falling into the river. I found it unnerving, especially when the walkway went around the pier on the outside.

I made it to the other side just fine, of course, and was rewarded with steamy views of downtown, so far from the Bottoms, yet so close.

Downtown Pittsburgh from McKees Rocks Bridge

Simply returning across the bridge, I got to appreciate the views again. Then I trundled down California Avenue to the Eckert Street Steps.

Now, this section of the run was mainly due to poor planning. Earlier, I had run many of the streets in Chateau, but somehow missed that Branchport Street. This time, running down Eckert, I kept a mantra of “street after the marina”, “street after the marina”. I did get some nice views of the Ohio. “Street after the marina”, “street after the marina”. Look at that cool railroad bridge. “Street after the marina”, “street after the marina”.

Missed it. Whoops! Turning around, I finally came across it, a mere driveway.

Branchport Street, the Other

With this, I returned up the steps, up California Avenue and right onto Brighton Heights Boulevard. The Brighton Heights Bunny welcomed me back.

Brighton Heights Bunny

From West Liberty to Library, Road, That Is

RATS Route #00415 from West Liberty to Library

With alleys to do in West Liberty and busy streets to do on the Southern Edge of the World, I started RATS run #00415 from Moore Park in West Liberty. Moore Park is very convenient, just off of Pioneer Avenue. There are tennis courts, basketball courts, a spray park, a pool and large fields rolling down toward Moore Greenway. For my purposes though, there is a nice little parking lot.

Anyway, I started there and cut down through Our Lady of Loreto’s driveway, aka Herman Drive. Making the right onto Crysler Street, I found myself in the maze of driveways around West Liberty Elementary. I got spit out onto Elmbank Street, which falls precipitously to a green dead-end.

Speaking of green dead-ends, Fernhill Avenue has several, in spite of any map which shows that it continues in a long circuit. Inland Way took me on a ridge below Dunster. From there I headed toward Brookline.

I think it was on Lugi Way that I found a salute to veterans and recycling as well as an alley duck. This tour of the lesser known views of Brookline eventually took me to McNeilly Road. McNeilly is rather busy and not meant for pedestrians. I ducked onto McNeilly Court as it curved up the hill. It dead-ends abruptly after the curve. Returning to McNeilly Road, I then went up another curvy street, Aidan Court. It turns out that that new subdivision was pretty much built on top of the older homes on McNeilly Court.

Luckily, though, the wide shoulders and parking lots afforded places to run. I also found Black Dog Car & Dog Wash. I mused what the options could be:

  • One pass dog and car – “Just get him to sit on the hood, ma’am. He’ll be OK.”
  • Slobber wash – “We have ten golden retrievers just waiting to lick your dog and car clean.”
  • First World Wash – “Just open all your windows and let Fido sit on the front seat.”

Moving on, McNeilly narrows under a train trestle right before it hits the McNeilly T-Station. There’s a slim little sidewalk there and it takes you all the way to busy Library Road.

Library Road took me briefly out of the city into Castle Shannon. Again, it’s not very pedestrian friendly there, so I stayed up on the green embankment. My target was Belleville Street, up steep 6th Street. I was very happy that Belleville narrowed into a trail and I got a nice little shortcut back to Library Road, before any need to trespass on a power-line tower.

Circling back into the City, I braved the traffic along Saw Mill Run and Provost Road. I thought I’d need to scurry up Arcata Street, but it was just a 50 yard driveway to a washed-out bridge. No, I didn’t scale the bridge or swim the creek.

With that, I trundled up Glenbury Street, gasping for air and watching out for cars. Upon returning to Moore Park, I ran right into the cold spray, screaming like a little kid. Or a like a dog going through a car wash.

Long Way to Traverse

RATS run #00414 From South Side to Traverse Field

On this bright Saturday morning, a group of friends, led by Bob and Nancy, were doing the South Side Slopes piece of the “Take the Stairs Fatass” 50k. That route draws a jagged circle around Pittsburgh, starting in Spring Garden. An unsupported event (e.g. a ‘fatass’), it uses over 70 flights of city steps to bring the participants to some of the best views highlighting the city.

Anyway, I was NOT doing it, but figured I could meet up them. Sure enough, shortly after I parked in the South Side, I ran into them huffing and puffing up Eleanor Street. It has great views, and everyone in Pittsburgh should do them.

Breaking off after a few blocks, I continued through Arlington and to Amanda Street as it cuts down to Carrick. I needed to complete Charlock Way and Dove Way.

This area of the city; Knoxville, Mount Oliver, Mount Oliver Borough and Beltzhoover, are tightly packed. In some lucky areas, trees throw some shade, while in others, it is just sun, concrete and houses. Dove Way sounds pleasant enough, like the gentle cooing of mourning doves as the sun comes up over a green yard edged by flowers. The reality is different. It goes behind narrow towering houses leaning on each other for support. Grimes Avenue, while aptly named, at least has some trees.

Continuing the bird theme, I cut down through Partridge Way and a little unnamed alley off of Hawk Way.

Finally, I went back to Brownsville Road, passing the flower vendor en route to Borough Way. Borough Way straddles the southern border of the Borough of Mt Oliver and the City of Pittsburgh. At the end of Borough Way sits Traverse Field, which has little league baseball games. I finished up a little alley there and made my way back over the big hill, back to the South Side. It was a hilly seven miler. I was beat at the end.

Post Run

Crossing the River and through Homewood

Here are two runs from the end of May.

RATS #00411 in Homewood

Homewood! Homewood! Homewood!

I’ve written about you often and been through your maze of streets and alleys more than once. However, there’s always a little more of you. This was a Sunday afternoon run to tie up loose ends. El Court, for instance. On my first run past, I thought it was a sketchy driveway. Going around the block and back, I decided it was just sketchy, not a driveway. It has the style of row houses facing each other. Of course, a car was parked at the end facing outward. Why not?

I’ve found that this style of housing, with its row houses enclosing some sort of walkway or driveway, is found occasionally across the city, typically in older neighborhoods, Lawrenceville, Oakland and Perry Hilltop for instance. El Court, however, takes the cake for disrepair.

Another street I needed was Annan Way. It intersects North Braddock and parallels the busway as it heads toward North Homewood Avenue. Cinnibar Way is a similar-looking alley but isn’t nearly as long. It does have that typical red-brick paving of most of Homewood’s alleys.

Prior to getting here, though, I traipsed up Inglenook Place. I had done that area earlier, with its long flight of stairs up to Sickle Street. However, I had missed a tree-lined alley, Hackett Way, earlier. Actually, earlier I didn’t think it was even a street. But it is, and there I was, running it down. I didn’t get a good picture of it, but it’s right under those trees at the top of the steps.

In spite of rampant dumping in alleys, deer frequent the open grassy lots. Cuddy’s looks like a store from the 50’s.

Murals adorn many brick buildings. As I was discussing with a friend recently, these are ‘paid’ art; I call it graffiti gentrification. Most of it is pretty cool with real design and artistic talent. Of course, it’s just not the same as the midnight taggers marking their territory.

And that’s about it.


RATS Run #00412

I started this run, run #00412, across the Allegheny River. It is “officially” in the Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar neighborhood. Mostly, though, is a an Aspinwall, Fox Chapel shopping area.

After getting all the way to Fox Chapel Road, I retraced my steps and crossed the Highland Park Bridge. It crosses the Allegheny just upriver from “Lock and Dam 2”. It is a fairly simple lock and dam, maybe nine or ten feet high.