Right now, the sunny September days are getting shorter and Steeler season is kicking off. Puffy cumulus clouds are punctured by fighter jets in formation screaming over the stadium. But last December, I had extra vacation days and took them off to run. This run, RATS #00487, was on Monday afternoon, December 27th. For late December, the weather was pretty good, around 40 and humid.
I parked in the Allegheny Cleanways parking lot on North Charles and proceeded to knock off McIntyre Place, a little hook of a road at the end of West McIntyre, filled with small brick houses, neat and tidy. Kenwood Avenue intersects McIntyre and continues up the hill as steps. I had already completed them, so it was back to North Charles.
Making a right onto North Charles, I had the pleasure of tromping over the Swinburne Bridge. It is high over I-279 and looks down into the city. Yeah, that’s early afternoon in December. It looks more like a gray morning.
Circling around a cluster of horribly named streets, Sunset Avenue, South Side Avenue and Entrance Street, I came to Hobbs Street. I’d been here before, but somehow missed the cross-street at the top, Norris Street. This time, I made sure to do it. On the way down, I was greeted once again by the spectacular views.
I took a left at the bottom and proceeded up to Marathon Street. It would really be cool if the Pittsburgh Marathon came up here, but I’m guessing runners would not be too happy about climbing 500 feet from the Point.
Climbing down from the Marathon high, I passed the ballfields on Romanhoff. I needed to revisit Beckfield Street and Zell Way. These are all tiny streets which don’t have the will to live. Instead they simper out under vigorous weeds and broken asphalt, making liars of old maps.
However, it is a cute neighborhood with breathtaking views.
From here, I climbed and fell to Frontier Street, a boldly named swath of grass off of Hunnel Street. Why it has a new brilliant blue street sign is beyond me.
I started back and scooted through St. John’s Lutheran Cemetery as a shortcut to Lappe Lane (the upper section). This was quite a billy-goat run.
RATS #00481 was a little four miler last December when the skies were clear and the weather cool. Honestly, just a little cooler than it is today, about six months later. Anyway, I started up in Brighton Heights, parked at the Legion Park parklet. I thought I did a pretty good parking job, much better than the dude or dudess who crashed there earlier. After examining the crime scene for a few minutes, I trotted down Brighton Road.
I needed to find the end of Ribb Way. Oh? Never heard of it? Me neither. It’s off of Harbison Road and Rigel Street; basically a driveway overlooking Brighton Road far below. Be careful of parking here too, as the trees will drop a heavy ticket on you.
I continued down Brighton on my way to find Sheriff Street. That’s one of those I had missed several times before. Duh, I had kept going down obvious paths. Finally, I found it tucked behind the Circle K and leading to a loading dock. A loading dock for a company called “Stetson”. I think it’s totally appropriate for there to be a Stetson on the Sheriff, but it’s neither a hat nor a law-enforcement agent, just Cosmic Humor. This, apparently, is Stetson’s national headquarters. They’re in the “Convention Services” business.
Moving on, I revisited a little triad of streets; Plough, Tumbo and Toberg tucked off of Woodland and above Superior. Once upon a time, steps came off of Toberg and provided a short-cut to Woodland. With this run, I verified those steps are cut-off at the top. Tumbo just stops at some woods and Plough digs into a driveway. They do have cute views, though.
From here I made my way down to California Avenue on my way to Fenway. The cold air had its benefits as the vegetation had died back, giving me great views of industrial Pittsburgh.
I had been on Fenway before, but apparently hadn’t run the whole thing. Today I did. It wasn’t a walk in the park, more like a trot through trash. What a shame, it could be a beautiful spot.
From here, I made my way back to Legion Park. I did Hertzog Street on the way. December 2021 was relatively warm and this was the first of many runs that month.
Here are three runs to close out November 2021. RATS run #00478 was a little three miler in Arlington, Mt. Oliver and St. Clair, while #00479 was a seven miler in Crafton Heights and Elliott and #00480 was a four miler in Lincoln Place. All were designed to fill in ends of roads and alleys missed.
For RATS run #00478, I started high on the hill next to Arlington Playground. There is a small water park here and a ball field. A good batter might be forgiven if they think they could hit the ball downtown, it seems so close. Leaving the dreams of the field behind, I bounded down Mountain Avenue then made a sharp right onto Parkwood Road.
This section of Parkwood Road ascends a steep hill going into Pittsburgh’s Mt. Oliver. The left side has steep lots speckled with houses. The right side, where the sidewalk is, passes medium and small houses whose back yards drop off quickly. Once I got to Otilla, Parkwood had leveled off, 120 feet above its Mountain Avenue intersection.
Making the left onto Otilla Street, I sought out my first goal, Poco Way. This small alley goes behind five houses on St. Joseph Street and ends. Returning to Otilla, I made a left onto Walde Way en route to Farina Way. Like many of these later “streets”, Farina Way looked like a driveway at first. However, I was pleasantly surprised when it hooked up with Ignatious Way behind leaf-strewn yards. Ignatious intersects with Rectanwald Street and I took Rectanwald’s short flight of broad steps back to Walde.
From here, I scampered down to McManus as it travels behind an elementary school. Steps down, steps up and I was back on Mountain. I went up to Henger to complete a section I had missed. A Jersey barrier blocks the road, but residents have sprayed a message for drug dealers: “Go elsewhere…We Are Watching!”
They must have been listening, because there was no one there. I scampered over the barrier and continued on Henger to the fences. The fences enclose what was once St. Clair Village. From what I’ve read, it became a festering spot for crime and drugs and was subsequently torn down. That was years ago. It is still vacant. Some sections are now used by the Urban Hilltop Farm, but none of the housing has been rebuilt.
From here, I returned to Arlington Playground via Mountain Avenue. It was a rather satisfying run, what with the unexpected passage on Ignatious, clarifying Henger and Poco. Henger even gave me some souvenirs; seedlings stuck to my tights.
RATS run #00479 was a romp in the West. I started at Herschel Park, one of my favorites. I think it’s the unexpected view and the easy access, both getting to Herschel Park and running the western neighborhoods from it. Anyway, for this day, I had more dead-ends to explore. My first one was Coey Way off of Arnold. Coey Way is a rather tame alley which goes directly uphill, behind brick suburban houses to a parking spot.
Then it was off to Corso Way, less than a quarter mile away. However Corso Way seems to be in a different world. To get there, I took Obey Street as it steeply falls off toward Noblestown Road. Just past “Grimes Signs”, Magnus Way on the left, snakes uphill past a couple of houses. When it turns, Corso Way begins. Corso Way, goes about 1/4 mile into the woods. I ran down it, splashing through muddy ruts, six inches deep. At the end, a low slung house or trailer stood, with “Beware of dogs” signs, and a couple of cars parked in front.
I was happy to return out of that alley. I worked my way up Obey Street to Albia Way, just off of Steuban. That was an uneventful alley, mainly for garage access. Now, once I made it to Steuban, I made a left and continued down Middletown Road, looking for a cross-street, Woodlow. Alas, I had made a left when I should have gone right and I had to retrace my steps to find Woodlow.
Woodlow cuts from Steuban Street to Crucible Street through a large housing development in Carnegie Heights. It’s hard to tell if it is one big complex, or several smaller apartment complexes adjacent to each other. Now, rather than one house on the end of a muddy alley, like Corso Way, there were twenty or so multi-unit apartment buildings, where hundreds of people live.
I wrapped around Crucible to Dickens then made the right onto Meadowbrook Way. Much like Poco Way in the previous run, this just curved behind some houses and ended. I took a driveway at the back of Pittsburgh Classical Academy which put me out on Chartiers Avenue.
On an earlier run, later at night, I touched on little Elf Street, off of Chartiers. Today, I wanted to do the whole Elf, so again I tromped down Chartiers, past the grimy Marathon Gas, past Inner City Towing’s junk yard and past the muraled retaining wall. The right onto Nittany took me uphill. Large yards from adjacent streets converge on Nittany. They were kids playing and backyard picnic tables along the high-side of Nittany, where it curves and intersects Elf. Elf, itself, is very small; maybe twenty yards. At its end, a nice, large house sits.
Returning to Corliss Street, I now began my ascent of the back-end of the West End. Just before the Corliss Tunnel, Rupp Street on the right takes you to Danley. A two-hundred foot hill climb later and I came out on Mark Way. The road up, Lakewood Street, had nice views across Corliss Street to houses in Sheraden. There were also several house ruins along the way. From Mark Way I could make out the McKees Rocks Bridge through a break in the trees.
Now I kept to the high road; Lakewood to Lorenz to Valonia. I needed to finish off Lander Street. This section of Pittsburgh never ceases to amaze me, with the views and the houses stuck at crazy angles on the hillsides.
Lander Street, itself, is falling off the hillside. Part is blocked off and the hillside is encroaching on the houses.
From Lander Street I went down the Planet Street steps toward the West End. From South Main, you can see Walbridge Street splitting off with sidewalk steps on the right and a cool flight on the left (which takes you to Kerr Street). I took the sidewalk steps.
Almost back at Herschel Park, I just had East Chestnut to do. Once I found it, running the fifty yards to the end wasn’t too hard. And that was that, seven hilly miles and a many alleys done.
In Lincoln Place, RATS Run #00480 took me.
Longer to picture than to run, was Plaport Way, with its non-intersecting ends.
Cooley Way took me coolly beyond the pavement onto a grassy strip behind large yards.
But I earned it, a grand view of Lincoln Place from Commission Way.
So, in this abbreviated style, you’ll see that I started at McBride Park and did odds and ends of Lincoln Place. Please pray the Krampus doesn’t get me!
That’s all for November, 2021. Ten of my thirteen runs covered new streets on only 65 miles of running. Finishing these “streets” was becoming getting more and more tedious. Mostly, it is running to the ends of alleys or re-running street sections to make sure CityStrides picks it up. Nonetheless, I’m getting there.
I’m looking out my third floor window and low, scuttling clouds are throwing out splatters of rain. The heat is on again and it seems much more like November than May. So, digging back into yet-to-post archives, here are three November 2021 runs.
This was a very targeted run in Brighton Heights. Only four miles, I was trying to finish out the ends of small streets above Brighton Heights Park then follow Farragut to the Ohio. Friend, runner and storytelling extraordinaire, Rich, “BugayMan”, came with me on this Sunday morning adventure.
Steese Street was typical; a gravel driveway past a half built extension at the end of a dead-end street. It was high on the hill off of Benton Avenue and Lapish Street. Then adventures in dead-ends continued as I wandered down Haller hill with the twin streets/driveways of Dugan and Karwich off of it.
Making a right at the green house on Holler and Speck, we curved around the end of Edwin Street then made our way across Flora Street. Flora is pretty flat for this area. The back-windows of the homes must have great views. Transvaal Street dips back to Holler, where we caught steps down to Lapish Street. It was nice to see this in daylight; the last time I was here it was quite dark.
Crossing Benton Avenue at San Pedro, we made our way through this area, with its mysterious twists and turns popping out onto the busy Brighton Road. We trekked downhill towards the old Giant Eagle. Finally, dodging grocery traffic, we made the left onto Farragut Road.
A few weeks prior, I had considered doing this road in the late evening and I’m very happy to have reconsidered. It looks much better in the daylight. Farragut straddles the Pittsburgh-Bellevue border as it snakes down to the Ohio. There are a number of business down there, businesses which need lots of room; auto yards, trees services, landscaping companies.
An isolated house remains under the Jacks Run Bridge. It looks older than the bridge, but I’m surprised it wasn’t torn down during bridge construction.
Farragut dies out at an outflow pipe just before the Ohio River. I believe that that flat black rubber nozzle protruding from the pipe allows water out, but collapses, closing before river water can go back into the pipes. Railroads rule the remaining 100 yards to the river. Peeking out, I got a nice view of the McKees Rocks Bridge.
Lime Street has been a sore spot for me for awhile. There’s no feasible, safe, way to run to it. It’s off of Saw Mill Run Boulevard as folks accelerate to highway speeds. I drove there, anxious about getting rear-ending as I made the sharp right turn then abruptly parked.
I ran a tenth of a mile to the end of the street, ran back and hopped in my car. Sorry, no pictures. But if you’ve been following along, I think you can picture it. Tall narrow houses clinging to the hillside with lots of old cars parked out front.
This is the longest run of these three and served the same purpose; finishing up the ends of small streets I had missed and making sure I couldn’t go through such streets as Fercliffe or Elmbank, regardless what maps were telling me.
I parked in my favorite spot at Moore Park, then made my way to the end of Levitt Street. En route I re-ran Southcrest and Linda Drive. For some reason CityStrides calculated that I had missed Southcrest. This time, I ran right down the middle of the street. Levitt is at the end of Fallow, which overlooks Saw Mill Boulevard and the Bon-Air T Station. I think I had dog issues the last time I was on Levitt – in that a large German Shepard was running around unleashed. If I was as much a dog-whisperer as I am a cat-whisperer, this streets project would have been much quicker.
Anyway, with no dog incidents here, I returned to Pioneer Avenue. Mayville Avenue, Elmbank and Ferncliffe were my first stops. These streets plunge off Pioneer’s Golden Path. The bottoms are wet and woody.
Next up was the OTHER end of Elmbank and the major thoroughfares of Raeburn Way and Alumni Way. Completeness is a curse.
After Alumni, I circled Kenilworth and returned to Moore Park along Pioneer. Once again I passed this cool Little Free Library. You can find @cheesemeadowlfl on Instagram.
I’m really hoping NOT to have snow in June, but that seems to be the blogging trend here. Thanks for continuing to follow along.
As I sit at my desk, the Saturday before Easter, the weather is certainly reminiscent of early November. So, here are three runs in early November 2021. I do expect, though, as the days get longer and warmer, I won’t be able to find late November or December runs mirroring May weather!
This little run was exclusively to find and traverse Parody Street. Turns out Parody Street is a two-block set of steps from Beechview Avenue to Rutherford Avenue. At 6:27 PM on an early November evening, the sun was fading fast as I parked above Vanucci Park in Beechview. I slogged up and down on Sebring until I made a left onto Beechview. I knew I wasn’t supposed to go as far as Hampshire, but it kept getting closer and closer. Finally, just beyond a building on the right a little driveway gave egress to steps. Can’t park here, though.
The steps cut a path to Methyl Street and continued steeply to Rutherford.
By the time I got to Rutherford, the night was full on. I had a momentary thought of finding the end of Canton, but it was too dark. So, I returned to Vanucci and drove away.
In contrast to RATS Run #00471, this run was in the bright full sun of a Saturday afternoon. However, much like running Parody Way, I was focused on completing obscure alleyways; Michigan Way, Partridge Way, Voix Way and Elite Way.
Michigan Way, in Knoxville, was an easy one – just run up Knox Avenue until you get to Michigan and turn left. Knox Avenue exudes inner city dirty ghetto charm, without cool graffiti, but the perfect, cool, sunny running weather made up for it. I came back on Brownsville Road, looking for Alice Street.
Near the end of Alice Street, Partridge Way juts off to the left. Partridge Way has two sections, interrupted by a small hill, overgrown bushes and a barrier. You definitely can’t drive all the way through. I had done the upper section and wanted to see if the lower one somehow connected. No dice, after passing garages and a woman doing yard work, the alley came to an end; no apparent way through. This area was much more typical Pittsburgh; garages off the alley, large four-square houses closely packed up and down the hill.
Now, a funny thing happened on my way to Bon Air. For those who don’t know, Alice Street continues into Bon Air, changing names at Tarragonna Street to Bon Air Avenue. As I was ascending the little hill past Tarragonna, I noticed some strange leaves in the street. They were clumped together and rather green. The wind started to blow them around as a pick-up truck stopped just past me. Two young dudes hopped out, leaving their car doors open. The green leaves were twenties.
I asked them if this was their money and just got, “Not mine, but there’s enough here for all of us!” Not known for letting a loose twenty lie, I picked up a couple and continued up the hill. Crossing into Bon Air, which has a different, more suburban feel than Knoxville, another truck slowed down. An older guy shouted out “Hey, did you drop something? There’s money on the street back there!” I just waved him off and continued running. I made the right on Conniston Ave, pleasantly surprised at suddenly having extra pizza money when a small gray SUV slowly approached. A young muscular man inside rolled down his window.
“Did you pick up my money back there?
“I picked up some, how much did you lose?
“Wow! I didn’t pick up THAT much! Only $40. Do you want it back?”
He gave me a long hard stare, then said “Nah, man. You’re so honest. Just keep it” and drove off.
Argh, I was a bit nervous at this but continued on my route to find Voix Way. It was a short alley between Conniston and Fordyce. Then I was onto finding Elite Way, off of Roseton Avenue. Elite Way isn’t on Google Maps but made it to the Pittsburgh Blue Street Sign List. It’s not very Elite either, just ending in a ivy covered hillside.
Now, as I trekked out of Bon Air, I took an alternate route to the moneyed hillside and returned to my car. That was a lot of excitement for just a three mile run. On the way home, I got some Mineo’s.
The following Saturday I got out for a longer RATS run, this one in Banksville and Ridgemont, crossing through Greentree a bit. Again, I was mainly targeting obscure alleys such as Henwood Way, Roseberry Lane and the misnamed Lampe “Avenue”. I also got the deserted office park vibe by running around Mall Drive (Parkway Center Mall, that is). What a wasteland.
But let’s start with Lampe Avenue. It is a small spur of a road off of Greentree Road. Most of the time, a chain blocks off the drive, but today it was open. It seems it is used by a construction company to store vehicles. It goes through stands of Japanese Knotweed until disappearing into piles of dirt and debris.
From here, I trekked back up Greentree Road to McKinney Lane. From this high hill, I could see the tops of buildings downtown. McKinney Lane shoots past large office park buildings and empty parking lots. Perhaps they would be more full on a weekday? However, this whole Parkway Center Mall development seems empty and outdated. I continued on McKinney past the offices until I found a small path down to the Giant Eagle, the last tenant.
From here, I crossed over the Parkway West on Greentree Road and made my way back toward Banksville. Arbor Drive is just a little dead-end. From there I took Winchester Drive and Carnahan Drive towards Henwood Way. Carnahan is a bit tricky for running, as it loses sidewalks early on.
Now, one reason I had missed Henwood previously was it looked like a driveway off of Roseberry Street. I should have known better. It turned out to be beary welcoming street, after all. Further up the hill, past the drive into a trailer park, Roseberry Lane tops out in the parking lot of The Log Church, whose buildings ramble along the top of this hill.
I returned along Carnahan Road to Banksville Park and that was it, a relatively unadventurous run.
Here are three runs from the end of October, 2021; Squirrel Hill, Westwood and another Windgap adventure.
On a rainy Friday afternoon in October, I set out for Westwood again. My goal was several small streets I had earlier missed; Kearns Place, a section of Oakbrook Circle at the end of Kearns (before it dissolves into a path down to Greentree Road); Sky Way, appropriately named; and the ends of Valora and Winona.
Roughly speaking, this section of Westwood sits on the top of a large hill bounded by Greentree Road on the East and South and Noblestown Road on the North and West. On the highest streets such as Warriors Road, you can see downtown buildings peeking out through the trees. Kearns crosses Warriors and starts a long plunge down toward the West End. Right before it is blocked off, a little section of Oakbrook Circle juts off to the right. It is completely disconnected from the rest of Oakbrook Circle across the street and higher on the hill.
Streets tightly packed with houses were interspersed with long wet alleys. Fall colors along Coverdale were especially bright on that rainy, gray day.
The houses were generally large here with sizable yards. Some were decorated for Halloween, but I didn’t see any “natural” haunted houses, like I’ve seen on other parts of Pittsburgh.
And that was it, three hilly miles and several street-ends done.
RATS #00469 was a six mile run around Squirrel Hill and Greenfield to catch such major thoroughfares as Hempstead Street, Webb Street and Traynor Way. I’m not sure what possessed me to start from the track at Schenley Park at 8 AM on Saturday, but I think that’s where the City of Bridges group run was starting and I started with them.
Nonetheless, shortly after we crossed the Greenfield Bridge, I veered off to the right, down Greenfield Avenue and up Kaercher. Finally I took the right on Yoder and started the steep descent, with views of Oakland before me. Webb Street looks more like a broad driveway and ends above Yoder at a gated backyard.
Returning to Yoder as it crashes down the hill, I took the Alvin Street Steps to the top of Alvin Street. Alvin Street has a 16%-25% grade with sidewalk steps and also ends at Greenfield Avenue.
My next stop was Traynor Way, so I returned up Greenfield Avenue in search of this elusive prey. Actually, it wasn’t so elusive, just camouflaging itself as a driveway. Eschewing camouflage altogether, a flock of colorful flamingos quietly graced the hillside.
Now for Hempstead, a quarter mile of old-style apartment buildings in the heart of Squirrel Hill. Such large scale, older apartment complexes are common in Squirrel Hill.
From there, I just worked my way back to Schenley Park, happy that the heights of Greenfield were behind me.
RATS Run #00470 was another visit to Windgap. I wanted to verify a few things. Does Summerdale go further than I thought? Is Acasto Way really on the wrong place on the map? How about Youghegheny Street and that area under the bridge?
I parked on Summerdale, above Chartiers Playground; finished up Celina Place and made my way to the Windgap Bridge; under it actually. It was a bright Sunday afternoon and no one was out.
Going under the Windgap Bridge brought me to a small industrial park. Large warehouses stationed themselves at the ends of wide roads, meant for 18-wheelers. On the way out I noticed steel I-beams lazily placed along the road; perhaps in lieu of railings.
Coming out from the industrial park, I made a right on Youghigheny Street to it’s mulched end. It goes behind long backyards and ends near the railroad tracks. Now I went down Windgap Avenue and took the right on Summerdale. City Strides claims Summerdale pokes past Mayfair, but that’s not the case. Even back ten years, Google Streetview shows nothing but woods at the end of Summerdale.
Now I sailed down Chartiers in search of the real Acasto. There it was, with a bright blue street sign, to boot! Alas, the Open Streets Map on which Strava and CityStrides are based have it in the wrong place, about fifty yards from its actual location. From there, I took a stab at Alora Way but didn’t feel comfortable towards the end. Perhaps I have another trip to Windgap in store!