Around the South Slopes


RATS #00455 Around South Side Slopes

I started on the flats, parked under the railroad trestle on 26th Street. I warmed up by going downhill and circling Sidney Court, a small plaza of townhouses in the heart of the South Side. They look new and relatively modern.

Now I reversed course and clambered up the 30th Street Steps to Josephine Street. My targets were a few streets off the beaten path in Arlington. Going up Northview Street, Cobden and Cologne were just a “short-cut”. One more set of steps, the Syrian Street Steps powered me over to Devlin Street, which is unexpectedly broad and flat. (It was, the first time I came over here.)

My target street, Castel, had two portions; an obvious one which quickly dead-ended and a section which curved towards and old playing field. This was the section I had missed. Some light bush-whacking was involved and got me to the end as it unceremoniously dissolved into weeds. Returning, I scurried up the steps of a building. It still must be an active garage.

Next, I ventured to the very end of Roman Way. I’d been on the street long before and was not surprised by the flat street with modest houses spaced neatly along it. Sometimes, I feel like I’m going back in time in the neighborhoods. I wouldn’t have been too surprised if Rip-Van Winkle himself had emerged from an old RV.

I did run down to Orin Street, but was thoroughly dismayed at the mass of cars parked on that dead-end. From there, I went up to Dial Way, off of Jonquil Way. Dial Way doesn’t appear on Google Maps, but there it is, street sign and all. It just goes a hundred yards or so downhill between faltering houses.

From here, I popped over to Spring Street on my way to Waite, where it sticks into St. Michael’s Cemetery. That cemetery is high on the hill and the houses across the way look like they are in the sky.

I made my way behind the yellow house onto Quarry Street. It was the day of the South Side Step Trek and I could hear the crowds down in Quarry Field. While later in the day, I did part of the Step Trek with some friends, now I was destined to find the back of St. Paul’s Monastery before climbing down the steps on St. Joseph Way. The views up here never disappoint.

Three Recovery Runs in September

Hey Folks! Hope everyone is having a happy holiday season. The days have gone by fast and its been nearly three weeks since my last post. Whoops! At any rate, here are three runs from mid-September. Incidentally, they are the first three runs I did after running the Pine Creek 100K on September 11.


RATS #00448 in Homewood

This was a bit of a recovery run which included some small alleys in Homewood, one of the city’s flattest areas. First, I crossed the East Busway and trekked to the end of Chaucer Street, as it disappeared into woods.

Then I reversed course to Spin Way, where a cool old car was parked casually on the street. Unlike the usual ‘disappear into the woods’, Spin Way ended at a gated, weed-filled parking area. From here, I worked my way to the end of Beecher Street, which peters out into a field.

At this point, I just ran back to my car.


RATS Run #00449 starting with City of Bridges Run Club

This was a fun run, which I started with the City of Bridges Run Club. Shortly after we crossed the Smithfield Street Bridge, I branched off. I took a gander at the Wabash Tunnel Ramp, which seems very much like a highway ramp to me, no sidewalk, no shoulders and a high possibility of cars zipping past. I would not recommend anyone run or walk it.

From there I ran past Station Square and towards 12th and 13th Streets along McKean Street, Cabot Way and Bingham Street. 13th Street ends at a railroad track, wide-open.

From here, I crossed the 10th Street Bridge and headed back downtown. The sun is setting noticeably earlier so by the time I got to Second Avenue, under the Liberty Bridge, cars’ lights were on and streetlights showed the way.


RATS Run #00450 in Perry South, Marshal Shadeland and California Kirkbride

Now, I was back in the saddle. This run, RATS #00450, took me from Riverview Park, down into Perry South, into California-Kirkbride and back through Marshall Shadeland and Woods Run. The first part of interest was an alley at the back of Fowler Field. This is just off of North Charles Street.

Last year, I teamed up with Dumpbusters to have a “Trashy 5K”, where we picked up garbage along North Charles. This time, I needed to finish off Snyder Street where I noticed this old red truck with the beady-eyed creature looking at me. It was a friendly stare, so I smiled and moved on.

My next adventure was to find the end of Harlan Avenue. While Harlan is blocked off pretty soon after it intersects Strauss Street, I wanted to see how far it went. First I passed the Jersey Barriers, then the overgrown No-Parking sign, then up the weed-choked asphalt. Finally the road itself became a broken jumble of asphalt, concrete blocks and bricks. That looked like the end of the road to me. From the end, I could see the remnants of the Irwin Street Steps. Missing treads are evident by the lack of shadows on that lower flight. They are mostly missing, which must be why these steps are blocked off from top and bottom.

From here, I crossed Brighton Road and headed to the top of California-Kirkbride. I usually like to use Hyena Way, but since I wanted to stay on top, I took Winifred. There are some great views here, from Stranmore Way and Sunday Way. There’s also a Mercedes which has been parked way too long.

From here, I did my due diligence on Morrison and Lamont Streets, going past the last houses, into more stinging weeds. B Street Steps provided a nice short-cut. Just mind the missing tread!

I cut over to the other end of Stranmore, where it intersects Hyena Way. Coming down the hill, there’s a lot of construction activity. This Ingersoll-Rand Paving Roller looks like it has had a bad day. I’d hate to be the one to change that tire.

After going down Hoffman Street, I crossed over to Beaver, finding my way back to Riverview Park. I ended up going into Woods Run, using the low road into the park.

One and a Half Runs

Here are two short September runs. The first, #00447, covered a few alleys in Lawrenceville. The second, which was rather disappointing, covered some territory in Hazelwood.

RATS Run #00447 in Lawrenceville

Modoc, Blackberry and Poe. The Ways.

Running, dodging people, cars. The Means.

Up steps, sniffing flowers

Past the last house on the alley

Craning my neck for the view

Scooting through the broken fence

Finally home. Meow.

Home sweet home

RATS #00447 1/2 in Hazelwood

This was supposed to be a simple run to do Cove Place and get Redstone Way, a tiny alley I had missed off Monongahela Street. I also needed the end of Marsden Street. Marsden Street went further than I expected, basically becoming a driveway as it passed the remains of a shed littering a backyard. I popped out onto Hazelwood Avenue and made my way toward Redstone Way.

However, Monongahela Street was a raceway of kids on bikes. Folks were hanging out, leaning against cars parked in Redstone Way, so I skipped it. The good weather really brought out everyone. A small black kid on a bike with wheels no bigger than my hand raced me to the end of the Monongahela. I was worried I would trip over him.

Anyway, I ran up Johnston Avenue, looking to complete Cove Place. Much to my chagrin, it was thoroughly fenced off. Damn!

So, this run only gets a “1/2”. Three miles in and only one street done.

Wavy Glass Run

RATS Run #00446 – Glass Run Road and Hays

In which Edward Runner realizes that Glass (Run Road) is dangerous and vows to never run that way again! Cross the street, hope not to die, get those salt crystals out of my eye. Amen.

Starting in one of my favorite spots, the Waterfront across from Costco, I ventured past Sandcastle and up Baldwin Road. It is one of those mixed-use areas, part heavy manufacturing, part worker housing. I picked up Glass Run Road, carefully crossing ramps leading to the Glenwood Bridge, Carson Street, Homestead and points unknown. I went up and down Haysglen Street, a small side road with maybe a dozen homes on it. Google maps calls it “Glass Run Road Extension”, but I think that’s wrong.

Glass Run Road wasn’t very busy, but still, isn’t a road I will be running on again. No sidewalk, no shoulder and some tight curves made me pretty nervous. Many drivers are cautious roads like this, but one wacko and it would be all over. I was inordinately overjoyed at the sight of Tom’s Fleet and Tire Service, as I approached the Pittsburgh-Baldwin line. BTW, Baldwin Borough looks like a gerrymandered Congressional district, curling from the Mon around parts of Pittsburgh, Brentwood, Bethel Park, South Park Township, Pleasant Hills and West Mifflin.

I continued into Baldwin plowing up the big hills to West Agnew Street. Going left would take me to Becks Run Road, but I headed right, where Agnew dissolves into the Hays Woods “neighborhood”. That’s a bit of a joke, because there are no houses up there, only trails. I’d say 99% of Hays’ population (all 400 of them) lives down on Baldwin Road. But, there are great views from Hays Woods. From the hilltops I could see the Cathedral of Learning, the Glenwood Bridge and railroad yards in Hazelwood. In spite of its deserted appearance, there is a lot going on about this area. Roughly speaking, it is slated to become a Pittsburgh park. I’ll leave the curious reader with just this link for further research.

Off of the hillsides, I tried to stay on West Agnew but lost my way. I was just thinking “this will be fine as long as I don’t get my feet wet” when I plopped into a muddy puddle. Oh well, no worries. This is a pretty wild area. The “street” I was following petered out across a creek from Glass Run Road. Bushwhacking my way back to the main trail I did get some close up views of nature.

My original plan was to find my way down to Baldwin Road from West Agnew, but that didn’t pan out. So, I retraced my steps back to West Agnew Road. There, I had a dilemma. Should I return along Glass Run Road, the most direct, but nerve-wracking route, or traipse through Arlington and the Slopes to catch the trail back to Costco? I chose the latter. Hear that, Glass Run Road? I’d rather dodge bullets in Arlington and do the Himalayan peaks of the South Side Slopes rather than run on you again!

Nonetheless, after tracing the arc of the Mon, racing trains, I returned to the waterfront with 16 more miles under my belt.

Deserted Berg and a Great Gate

RATS Run #00445 Bookending Carrick

This was my first big run of September, 2021. I choose to go back to Carrick. My favorite way to get to Carrick is to drive up the winding Beck’s Run Road and park along Brownsville Road not far from the Dunkin Donuts. That way, I can easily treat myself after a long run. It also has the benefits that many of Carrick’s one BILLION streets are within striking distance.

My first street was Berg Place. I have run past it several times, just tiredly looking at it as a little driveway. Today, I decided to just see how far that driveway went. It didn’t go far. I was amazed how run down it was. While I wouldn’t call this area of town “pristine”, most of the homes here are occupied and in decent shape, perhaps needing a little work. Berg Place, on the other hand was a disaster area. Several apartment buildings lined two driveways. There are at least 20 apartment units among three or four buildings and a line of garages. I imagine at one time they were all full of families. In fact, Google’s Streetview from 2007 shows neat apartment buildings. Now however, weeds grow through the asphalt and vines climb the building. Balconies without railings cascade down buildings while the dark eyes of broken windows stare on.

I did some research and it seems this level of neglect is the direct result of a bad landlord. Perhaps slumlord is a better name. According to a 2015 Post-Gazette article he did such cool things as surreptitiously running a hose from a neighboring property to supply water for his tenants, mostly Bhutanese refugees. (I personally didn’t know that Pittsburgh even had a Bhutanese community.) Can you imagine getting water on the third floor from a hose at ground level? That’s pretty bad. I’m not sure what has happened since, legally, but there were plans for the URA to take over the properties. Sigh, they seem to take forever to redevelop properties.

Moving on from Berg Place, I swept up Spencer Avenue with its classic Pittsburgh four-square houses. I hopped over to Rhoad Avenue, where the dead-end evidently continues beyond the gate. Skipping over to Novel Way, I scooted past the German Shepard at the corner and went as far down Novel as I thought feasible. Perhaps there’s an epilogue past that shady spot, but Novel Way looks finished at that point.

Jumping down Makery Way, I set out to find Gilboa Way and Wendelin Way. As alleys go, Wendelin Way is bright and open, even though its on the low end of a cemetery. There seems to be a slight misspelling on the street sign, as Maggie Ess pointed out. Maggie had been walking all the streets of Pittsburgh and finished a few weeks ago.

Calvert Street is one of those Pittsburgh streets which can only be accessed through Baldwin. It was a great neighborhood. I mean, there are CAT people there!

Coming back into Pittsburgh along Agnew Road, I cleaned up along Beck’s Run Run where the patriotic car wash was packed. Cursing the lack of sidewalks on that curvy, dangerous section of Beck’s Run Road, I eventually topped out on Brownsville Road.

I was about halfway done and resisted the urge to grab a doughnut before continuing to Parkfield Street. As I turned from Parkfield to the elusive end of Riota Way, a gardener on the corner made sure I knew Riota was a dead-end. I chatted with her briefly about my project and got motherly warnings about going down Parkfield. “It’s so steep and the cars fly up the hill! Be careful!” Pittsburghers are so nice. BTW, that’s great advice if you are ever running on Parkfield Street. Stay close to the curb and keep a sharp eye out for zooming cars. Dressing in blaze orange might help, too.

Once safely down to Saw Mill Run Boulevard, I scooted across to Ansonia Way. Ansonia Way is blocked off for cars, but is fine for pedestrians. It goes all the way the the T embankment where it becomes Midwood Street. At one end is a T Station. Returning to Saw Mill Run Blvd is easy with the Midwood Steps to cross Saw Mill Run creek.

Once up on Saw Mill Run, I made my way to Whited and the little Ballinger Street. Ballinger is another of Pittsburgh’s split personality streets. There are two disjoint sections with the same name. I suppose they connected at some point. Now, one leads you right to rail road tracks. Luckily there’s a gate, or someone might get hurt.

Safety Gate

This pretty much finished up my planned route, so I clambered up Colerain Street again, circling the playing field once for fun. Yet another steep street.

Short August Runs

Here are a few short runs from August.


RATS #00438 – California-Kirkbride and Marshall-Shadeland

Here’s a little Sunday funday runday. Fivish miles in California-Kirkbride and Marshall-Shadeland. With the bulk of the streets done, it was more about going down back alleys than an expansive opening of an area. Accordingly, while starting in Allegheny West, I made my way up California Avenue. Flowers at the corner of Marshall Avenue and California Avenue were as bright as the day.

Moving up Superior Street, I took a side trip on Seiffert Way to Thelma Way. On Google Maps, it looks like Thelma Way goes through. It doesn’t. Rather it ends in a tangle of weeds and branches. Seiffert Way and Ludene Way were as advertised; short, dead-end alleys. I wonder how many times I’ve used ‘dead-end’ in this blog. At least a thousand. Next stop was Bland Street. How Bland was it?

Really Really Bland

Pushing forward through the myopic, dystopic fog, I came to a ballfield and Unit 56, waiting for orders. Unit 56 looks a little forlorn. Has the Mothership abandoned it? Did no one pick it for the team? How long has it been sitting there, with weeds growing into its brain?

It was all downhill from here, though I had an AMAZING time!


RATS #00439 into Duck Hollow

This run was even shorter than the last. I just wanted to complete a couple of streets in Duck Hollow. Rather late one Tuesday evening I made my way there via a bike trail below Summerset. Trails go off the main one into old slag heaps, although this one was apparently closed.

Duck Hollow has four streets and maybe twenty houses. It is at the confluence of Nine-Mile Run and the Monongahela River. After some research I found a nice Pitt News article about it. Surprisingly enough, I sometimes run with Mike Portogallo whom they interviewed. Small world.

I do have some news! McFarren Street has been rerouted over a new bridge. Perhaps now Duck Hollow residents can get deliveries to their door. My pictures of the Hollow, itself, came out rather fuzzy between my running and the dusky light.

I went in on the new bridge and came out on the old, open grate bridge. The railroad trestle is striking in the twilight.

Finally, I came out onto the parking lot above the Mon. Sure enough, folks of all shapes and sizes were hanging out, enjoying the evening. I enjoyed the view of the river and the Homestead High Level Bridge.

Homestead High Level Bridge

RATS #00440 in Brookline

Another short, evening run; this time in Brookline. July Way, Harex Way and Tariff Way were my goals. July and Harex I got, but Tariff Way continues to frustrate me.

There’s a street sign on Sussex Avenue at it’s intersection with Tariff. I dutifully did that little driveway section which, incidentally, doesn’t even show up on CityStrides or Google Maps. Meanwhile the other section of Tariff Way, off of Thistle Street, goes about twenty yards before arriving at a broad expanse of lawn. I suppose I need to go across the lawn and have a beer at the neighbors for CityStrides to recognize it. Argh!

At any rate, it was a decent little run on a hot summer’s evening. I even got to do the Stebbins Steps, again.


RATS #00441 in Greenfield

This is a Greenfield Re-Run. I was retracing a route which CityStrides hadn’t picked up. While that was initially a bit annoying, it turned out to be a good run with some amazing views. I love this one from the corner of Lydia and Bigelow.

From there I wrapped around a couple of alleys, some which dropped me into backyards, some of which allowed me passage. The grapevine arbor was pretty cool.

Eventually I found my way to Tasso Street, which has two distinct sections joined by the Noah Street steps and the Bud Hammer baseball field. The home team must have won, as heavenly beams of light shone down on the field.

And that was all, 4ish miles on a hot August evening. My watch recorded over 600 feet of elevation in this run. Not sure I believe that.


So, there are a few more runs in August I haven’t recorded here. I’ll get to those in the next blog. Thanks for reading along.

Hail to Pitt!

RATS #00437 from Swisshelm Park to West Oakland

So, this was a rather ambitious run from Swisshelm Park, aka “The Land Beyond Frick Park” to the high reaches of the University of Pittsburgh. Going through Frick, one of my favorite routes is along Nine-Mile Run. It has been significantly cleaned up, but I still wouldn’t splash around in it. In a heavy rain, the upstream sewage systems in sections of Pittsburgh, Wilkinsburg, Edgewood and other communities tends to overflow into the drainage system, which, of course, flows through here.

Nine-Mile Run in Lower Frick

From there, I continued through Squirrel Hill into the Land of the Universities. CMU continues to build like a beaver. It is a place of learning, though, so good advice is everywhere. This wouldn’t be the last crane I saw.

Flossie Way was one of my target “streets”. It’s actually just a little alley in Oakland. ROTC students were gathered in the parking lot, doing drills. Beyond the asphalt was a green drainage swale, to slow runoff before it hits places like Frick Park. (Though that water would never go through that park, it’s already downstream.)

Coming into Pitt’s Upper Campus, I needed to complete “Benedum Square”. It’s a cozy little courtyard in which the engineering students can decompress. One, apparently had worked too hard for so long that he was just a shell of his former self. In seven years or so, I might see his offspring.

Moving up, I got a glimpse of the deconstruction of the Learning Research and Development Building. It’s not often that a building is taken down piece by piece. Further up the hill, I got some close-up views of WQED’s tower. More chances to look up!

I spent some time running in and out of the streets at the top of the hill. The Veteran’s Administration has a big shiny building there. Beyond Pitt’s sparkling athletic fields you can see downtown.

After dodging students moving in, I made my way past the Peterson Event Center. The steps provide a shortcut from the winding roads.

With that I made my way back to Frick Park. This was the first run in awhile and, by the time I got to Frick with 13 miles done, I was pretty beat.

Pears in the Pittsburgh Jungle

RATS #00436 in Oakland, South and West

RATS #00436 was a Saturday morning run in late July. I was aiming to capture Juno Street and a few streets in the Middle Hill. Juno Street starts down in Panther Hollow, but I had seen some steps just off the Boulevard of Allies that I thought might be a short-cut. I was on the right track, but the wonky wooden steps had been hit by trees. Trunks snapped by recent storms had broken the railings and lay across the steps. I’ve found that, sometimes, a path is clearer from the opposite direction, so I went around, hoping to come up Juno from Panther Hollow. However, after weaving through the Pittsburgh jungle, I came to the end of Juno Street as private drive replete with “No Trespassing” signs and (alleged) dogs.

Somewhat defeated, I trotted back down into Panther Hollow to take the Dawson Street Steps back into Oakland. Those, at least, were well maintained. I made my way down Bates Street to Technology Drive at the bottom. It looks so modern compared to the streets a half mile away.

Having enough of modernity, I re-crossed Second Avenue and traipsed up Hodges and Mackey Street. Here I went back at least 75 years. Hodges Street, as small as it is, has a couple of branches. I went up the left branch, assuming I’d find steps up to Lawn Street, but all I found were pears. They looked good, too, but I didn’t eat any. Keeping the slim figure, ya know.

Mackey Street, for its part, was much more overgrown. Steps sprouted from the end of the asphalt and clung to life as they ascended to Love Street. These steps weren’t in very good condition either, with stray tires and missing treads.

Nonetheless, I made it up to Craft Avenue and continued onto Fifth Avenue. Moving towards the Middle Hill, I took Brenham Street off of Fifth. It is a spit of asphalt splitting into the a jungle after 25 yards. Nothing there, so it was back to Fifth Avenue. A few yards further, the Mohawk Street steps gave me a shortcut Beelen Street. On the right, Beelen, has it’s own dead-end into a verdant Pittsburgh hillside while the left leads to Kirkpatrick Street. I took a sharp right onto Gazzam Avenue which was longer than I expected. No surprise, it dead-ended into a steep hillside covered with vines. There was a house back there, which I gave a wide berth.

From here, I just wound my way up Bentley Drive to Terrace Village (aka Oak Hill). I finished off Waring Court, an undeveloped street loping toward…you guessed it, a jungle.

This run complemented my earlier run into the Middle Hill from Downtown (run #00435). It turns out this was the last run in July and the last run in Pittsburgh until the middle of August. July was a big running month for me, with 134 miles, including 38 miles at Hell Hath No Hurry.