Revisiting Vista’s

RATS Run #00467 Allegheny West, Allegheny East, Spring Garden

This post-work run was supposed to be a preview for a City of Bridges Run, but turned into an adventure all of its own. I started near West Park and was happy to see that the Ridge Avenue bridge had been completed. Several runs have been extended when I forgot it was closed and had to go the long way around.

Ridge Avenue Bridge Over Norfolk Southern Tracks

From there, I made my way through East Allegheny towards Spring Garden. I took Gerst Way over I-279. At East Street, I made the left and rambled up to Royal Street. I was looking for a small street, allegedly off of Bly Street. I hadn’t seen it on a previous run, and was hoping to find it tonight.

All I found off of Bly was an overgrown hill. Perhaps the “street” had been steps which have since fallen down. Oh well, I turned back to clear up some more mysteries. For instance, the mystery of Radnor Street and Callen Street, known on Google Maps as Vallette Street; did it exist? Was it passable? I returned to East Street, heading back into town, then turned left onto Rostock Street.

A couple of houses up, I came to the end of Radnor. A barrier prevented cars from going further, but I scooted around. I went deeper and deeper into the underbrush. Eventually I found it impenetrable. Perhaps in the dead of winter this would go through. Returning to Rostock, I came across an open manhole. That’s a long drop and I’m happy I didn’t have a misstep into it. Apparently, though, there is a whole world of manhole-lids. For the curious, check out “The Ultimate Manhole Covers” site.

My next target was a spur of Kaiser Street off of Haslage Avenue. Those were high on the hill above me and I approached them via Vista Street. I had heard the Vista Steps had been re-opened after a two-year renovation project. In fact, a September 21, 2021 City of Pittsburgh Facebook post says, in part, “…This $750,000 Department of Mobility & Infrastructure project saw the preservation of the mosaic mural created by Linda Wallen and nearby residents.” I am a bit surprised at the cost of this, but I suppose these steps will last another 100 years. I’d hate to see what it will cost to fix the Troy Hill Steps. Anyway, it has one of those bike runnels, so that if you’re riding your bike up Vista Street, you can scoot it up alongside you on the steps.

Now, if you ARE riding your bike up Vista Street on a regular basis, you are one hell of an athlete. Between the top of the steps and Goehring Street, the grade is between 8% and 17%. While I have run up it a few times, I think it would be harder on a bike.

Elevation on Vista Street

Making the left onto Goehring Street and right onto Kaiser took me higher and higher. I was disappointed that Kaiser became a driveway at Haslage, with a rope across it and a guy fooling around in the yard. So, for now, I skipped it.

I like this area of Spring Garden / City View. The hills are punishing, the houses are surprisingly cool. At my back, Pittsburgh spreads out below.

Hunnel Street is another unbelievably steep road. Those wooden steps are pretty sturdy in spite of their wavy look. Just before the top of Hunnel, Frontier “Street” goes off to the left. In some regions, that would be called a yard. Today, I took a pass on it.

Hunnel turns into Stein and goes abruptly downhill. Stein, the street, continues as steps past this decrepit white house. Can’t drive that way, of course. If it had a bike runnel, too, I suppose you could sail down the steps on a bike. As it is now, you’d just go bump, bump, bump on your bike. Since I was NOT on a bike, I just went clomp, clomp, clomp down the stairs to Homer Street. My time was getting short and after passing the ghosts of Homer, I scurried back to the Allegheny Center.

En route, I passed the Aviary and saw only one big bird was roosting in a tree. I was hoping it was Cody, but couldn’t really tell.

Aviary

Four October Runs Across Pittsburgh

I’m writing this blog on March 12, 2022 and am very depressed by the current state of world affairs. I’m sad for Ukraine, angry at Russia and exasperated by the U.S. response. Nonetheless, here are four runs in October, spread across the city from Belmar to Fairywood. Hopefully recalling better days will brighten my mood, and yours too.


RATS #00463 Belmar

RATS Run #00463 in Belmar was another effort to finish up some small streets and dead-ends in the area. It was just to the northwest of RATS Run #00462. I started on Meade Street and caught Calway Street and Heart Court right off the bat. Then I made a long trek on Upland and Apple past the Negro Opera House. I’ve remarked on this house before. Now, it looks like renovations are underway. Yay! Perhaps these will be completed?

Moving on, my next goal was Mingo Street. Earlier, on a run with Rich, I balked at going past the barriers at the bottom of the hill. Today, though, I wanted to take a closer look. It turns out that Mingo Street does, indeed, continue. It passes two houses which seem ready to fall down. Reflecting on yesterday’s run on Hallam Street, I expect these houses to be gone without a trace in ten years.

I followed Mingo around the hill. It emerges onto Latana Way, where kids still play with trucks and a very red shed hosts basketball tournaments. Turning back onto Grotto Street, I crossed Lemington Avenue and made my way onto Elrod Way. Tucked up the hill was the alley of my destiny, Mayo Way.

I had some Mayo sandwiched between two dead-ends. Along the way, I daresay I surprised an old guy hanging out in his garage, but I made sure not to park it anywhere. To be honest these “No Parking” signs crack me up. I mean, really? Is this a problem? People parking in front of an inaccessible, broken down garage? Or is it that “No Parking” signs are more durable than your regular signs?

Anyway, moving on, I made it to both ends of Ebel Street and, again, verified that I’d be sanctioned heavily if I trespassed onto Highland Drive, a former site of the VA Hospital.

From here, I made my to Easton Way and through the Paulson Playground. On a warm afternoon, this place is swarming with kids. Today was quiet, though. Then it was a short jaunt up Clifford Way. I did not see a Big Red Dog, but he could have been hiding in the dense undergrowth.

From here, I made my Dreary way across the Larimar Avenue Bridge and followed Relic Way to its bitter end. For some reason, the GPS thinks I ran through yards, houses and sheds instead of straight down Relic. And that was it, a solid 8.84 mile run.


RATS #00464 Fairywood

RATS #00464 was on the opposite edge of town; a few Pittsburgh streets off of Ingram Avenue and then into Fairywood. I was a bit surprised to find an historical marker for Pittsburgh way out here. I suppose it’s a border sort of thing.

After running halfway across the Steubanville Pike Bridge, I came back skirted past an old “Sharp Edge” restaurant, with inviting red awnings. However, the windows were dark and the place was deserted. Closed. I have heard, though, that another restaurant will be moving in.

I ducked under the bridge to run along Napor Boulevard. Napor runs along the edge of an light industrial park on the edge of Chartiers Creek. Cellones is a large scale Italian bakery which has facilities here. Chartiers Creek looked peaceful.

Coming back to West Steuban Street, I crossed over Ingram Avenue and onto Woodmere Drive. An Amazon warehouse sits at the end of Woodmere. With a quick left then right, I found myself back on Industrial Highway. While only 3/4 of a mile long, it is built like a full scale highway. I’m always a little scared to run on it and really push the pace. Today was no exception, as my leisurely 10 minute pace increased to a 7 min/mile pace before I got winded and had to drop back to an 8:30. Great place to sprint.

I intended to go to the end of Industrial Highway, or as Strava calls it, “Chartiers Valley Lane”. However, the road went through a gate, marked “No Pedestrian Access”. Hmm, that seems pretty clear. Hey, I went further than the Google Streetview car did! It looks like Maple Grove Aggregates is the only thing down there.

I turned back toward the heart of Fairywood. As I’ve mentioned before, there used to be a housing development here. That one is empty land now. An empty pool is starting life over as a forest, tree by tree. But there is a housing development on the other side of Broadhead Road and one of Pittsburgh’s biggest landowners, the URA is trying to develop this.

I finished up running along Windgap Road. That’s a street in bad need of sidewalks. I did get a peek into the 25 yrd long Medford Street before finishing up in the Ingram Crafton Shopping Center.


RATS #00465 Brookline

RATS Run #00465 was a quick run in Brookline to finish up alleys like Pontoon Way (both sides), Minor Way, Redbird Way, Mossrose Way and Georgette Street among others. However, it was already dark by the time I got going, so I don’t have many pics. I think this neighborhood, nestled between Glenbury Road and Carmalt Field is pretty nice. It is all suburban residential, but the hills and alleys give it a mysterious air. From the end of Wychelm you can see the lights of downtown.

After going up to the end of Wychelm, I went down Parklyn, catching the left and right to get to the end of Mossrose Way. I returned along the long stretch of Mossrose, where it rises above the houses as a lane covered in pine needles. Making two rights, I decided to be bold and go down Georgette Lane. It was not, indeed, a driveway, but rather a respectable, short street with a house at the end.

I finished up Minor Way and went to the end of Redbird. That alley just bailed out at the top of a hill into someone’s backyard. Whoops! A wet, short night run all done.


RATS #00466 Duquesne Heights and Mount Washington

Returning to daylight and hills again, RATS Run #0466 wrapped around Mt. Washington and Duquesne Heights. I spent some time on the Emerald View Trail, which encircles this section of town.

Cielo Lane juts off of Fingal Street to provide some nice views of the Point. I tromped down to Greenleaf, which dives toward the West End Circle. However, about half way down I took the steep right onto Homer Street. There are only a few houses there, perched high on the hill. Homer leads directly into Emerald View Park.

I took Emerald View until I popped up on Grandview. From there I completed Augusta Street, en route to Wyloa Street. I thought I had completed Wyola, but it turns out there is a little spur which remains to be done. However, I got to traverse some of my favorite steps, Greenleaf and Well.

Now, my next target was Chess Street, but that was well on the other side of Woodruff Street. I took a “shortcut” by going up the Mann Street Steps to get me closer to the southern end of Mt Washington Park. I was appalled by the lack of a retaining wall behind condos being built on Grace Street. I can already see the road being undermined.

In the woods I lost my sense of direction and ended up on Norton, instead of Spahrgrove. Chess Street, wasn’t much to see, in spite of the cobblestones.

From here, I ran back to my car on Bigham. Damn, this area is hilly!

Basic Questions

RATS #00460 New Homestead

Does Basic Street REALLY have a spur which connects Revenue with Girder? How far down Chord Street is it feasible to run? Is Mestaland really a street? These questions and more had vexed me for some time. Early on a bright Sunday morning in October, I intended to get some answers. I parked at the West Homestead Community Park and ran back into the city. Even here, an electric scooter was dumped along the road. Niceville leads up to Armorhill, past a little New Homestead sign. Somehow, the last time I was on Armorhill, I had missed the turn for Mestaland.

Oh, now I realize why. It looks like a driveway! Anyway, I took Mestaland as it snuck behind houses on Armorhill, clinging to the top of a ridge overlooking Sandcastle. At the end were a few mobile homes stacked on foundations and several “Private Property” signs. No worries, folks, there’s nothing appealing here anyway.

Getting back to Armorhill, I took a right as it winds and becomes Panorama Street and Ingot Avenue. There are several streets jutting off to the left and I cruised down each one. An elderly man was taking his morning walk down Mariana and I asked him whether the street continued. “Not anymore” he said. Then he asked “Is that your car parked on the side of the road?” I had noticed it, too, a small blue car. “Nope not mine.”

Panorama Street became Spike Way with a playing field on the left and skying radio towers to the right. Two of these were old style towers, with guy wires going everywhere.

Now Ingot Avenue starts to drop quickly until it intersects Girder Street. On an earlier run, I had taken the right. This time I took the left. According to Strava, Basic Street should intersect Girder before it curves into Chord Street. On the other hand, Google Maps indicates that Girder curves and dead-ends before some houses, with no other intersection. Must say that the reality is closer to Google Maps.

Google Map Screenshot

Girder was simply a narrow roadway; but Basic, as it ends, becomes a driveway for numerous vehicles in varying states of operation. Three mildewed trailers, and some trucks guarded the driveway full of vehicles. This did not look promising, so I turned around.

Working my way back to Armorhill, I passed Mt. Rise Baptist Church and the blue car again. This time, as I ran past, I noticed a man slouching down in the front seat, sleeping. Well, look at that! Time to pick up the pace! I made another effort to find mythical Basic Street connector off of Revenue Street and only found a cell-tower and a dragon.

Just a little over three miles had answered many of my questions. No, None and Yes, if you’re keeping score.

Bells on the City’s Edge

RATS #00456 Along Chartiers Ave on the Pittsburgh-Crafton Border

This run, RATS #00456 was a Sunday evening run in early October along the Pittsburgh-Crafton border. My main purpose here was to complete “Bell’s Run”. Now to get there, I started in the Crafton-Ingram Shopping Center, parked between the Giant Eagle and the Crafton-Ingram Bowling Lanes. You can’t get more Pittsburgh than that. I ran through Crafton’s Central Business District, past Stotz Avenue and out along Bradford Avenue. Making the left along Crafton Boulevard, I crossed the bridge in search of Chartier’s Avenue. Here, it is a trail at the end of Kingston Avenue.

Continuing on the Kingston/Chartiers Trail, I came across some steps which took me up to a residential area. I’m not sure whether to call them the Ewing Road Steps or the Kingston Steps. Anyway, they led me off the trail to a region of large houses and yards in Crafton.

But I was veering off of my path, so I made my way back to Chartiers Avenue near the Idlewood Station, where it is resurrected as a street. I stayed on Chartiers as it wobbled in and out of Pittsburgh. Cellone’s Bakery once had a pedestrian route to their shop, but it was blocked off now. Turning on Bell Road, the road splits, but both ran into closed gates; a bakery and a communication’s tower.

Returning as dusk settled, the deer were out in force, including ones nonchalantly playing in a front yard as well as a skittish buck on the trail. The Dari Delight was still open, so I got a soft-serve. Last one for the season probably.

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.

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.

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.

Roads Les Travld

RATS #00435 Middle Hill and Oakland

After work on a Friday, what to do? Head home and battle traffic? Naw

Happy Hour? Naw, a couple a beers and THEN battle traffic; no thanks.

Run? Of course!

Ironically enough, one of my cardinal rules has been to NOT run on hot Friday afternoons through sketchy areas. But there I was, on a sunny, hot summer Friday evening running through the Hill District . Spoiler alert, I survived, just slightly dehydrated.

At any rate, I ran across the Andy Warhol B