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.
Here are two runs I did last December, as the daylight was approaching its minimum. Here in early September 2022, I seem to be stuck in eternal summer.
RATS #00485 was on a rainy, cool Saturday afternoon. My main goals were to finish off Plummet Way, Alcove Way, and Lacona Street. Plummet and Alcove are non-contiguous alleys; ones that keep the same name but are interrupted, typically by houses, garages or hills. I also wanted to double check how far West Cherryhill went.
It wasn’t particularly cold, high forties, but was rather dreary. I was apprehensive about going all the way down Plummet but shouldn’t have been. A woman was out decorating her house and chatted amiably. Apparently, some of the trails down here used to go all the way to Beck’s Run Road. The last pic above was from the end of Plummet Way, just past her house.
From here, I made my back to Amanda Street and Alcove Way, going until the going was gone. Again, garages and vegetation crowded out the alley before too long. Then it was on to a low-point, Lacona Street. Lacona looked like a slightly newer development than the rest of Carrick, but, also ended in vegetation high above Beck’s Run Road.
From here I crossed Brownsville Road, such a fitting name for that drab street. I traversed West Cherryhill as it plummeted down the ridge. Maybe once upon a time, it continued to the ball field below, but these days it just ends at that fence. I must say, there was no end to the decorations in this neighborhood, which brightened up the afternoon.
The next day, Sunday, December 19, 2021, I ran in Brookline. Brookline and Carrick have a lot of similarities. There are just across Saw Mill Run from each other and have hills upon hills, and lots of alleys. It was a little colder that day, in the mid-30’s, but otherwise fine. My first street target was Adara Street. Never heard of it? Well, it COULD be because it is just a little turn-around at the end of Denise Street. If you’re a South Hill’s T-Commuter, you might recognize the Denise Street Station. Anyway, I traipsed from Brookline Park down to Adara. After about twenty feet, the pavement ended. A far way to go for such a small street.
I crossed Saw Mill Run at Whited Street and took a hilly detour on the right, ending up on Lynbrook. That’s a rather pleasant street for running, very suburban. That route also got me off of Whited Street, which has only intermittent sidewalks and a small shoulder. Made the left onto Marloff and scooted down Marloff Place. It just goes into a big parking area at the bottom of a hill. I got a kick out of these decorations. It looks like Bumble deflated the other creatures and looks a little abashed.
From here, I made my way to find Pinegrove Drive. I usually write out my runs on a small piece of paper. The last time I tried Pinegrove, I was befuddled because I didn’t see a street where it was supposed to be. This time, I knew to be a little more observant and watched for a metal barrier. I hopped it ran a bit down “Pinegrove Drive”, which really is just a path along a fence into the woods. No wonder I missed it before.
From here, I traveled back to the heart of Brookline, those long hilly streets off of the Brookline Boulevard. Crossed off Oleantha Way, and danced down the Belle Isle Steps on Route to Pardee Way in route to the far end of Ingomar Street. OK, maybe I didn’t actually dance, but how many ways can I say “moved from one place to another”?
And that was it, nearly eight miles in the book and several streets done.
Here are two runs I did on December 12, 2021. The first was to the end of Tinsley Way, in Squirrel Hill and the other was to complete a section of Baldwin Road.
This was only 1.9 miles of Squirrel Hill exploring. I parked on Beechwood Blvd and quickly made my way to the end of Tinsley. Since that was less than 1/4 of a mile, I decided to make another attempt at “officially” completing North Woodland Road, a private drive on Chatham’s campus. I continued past the Chatham Mansions and antique gas-lamps. However, it was to no avail. In the end, a high gate crossed the road and I could go no further.
On that Sunday afternoon, I ran again. The Steelers were not playing and the weather was cool and sunny. In a word, perfect. I started at the Waterfront across from Costco. I ran past Sandcastle’s empty slides along the bike path. However, when it got to Haysglen Street, I broke away from the bikers and made a left past Keystone Iron & Metal, with their piles of metal scrap and headed south along Baldwin Road.
This section of Baldwin Road slinks under the crazy West Carson Street intersection with 8th Avenue. Above, ramps go in all sorts of directions, but Baldwin Road tracks straight, past the paving company, the flag store and the Social Club. I don’t believe I saw one soul along that stretch.
Now, I had, on a previous run, done much of this area. However, I needed to go all the way out of the city to complete Baldwin Road, so on I went. Once you pass Ramp Street, the sidewalks disappear.
I liked the clean severity of this old building and thought Poljak Racing was a thing of the past. But I am mistaken. Apparently AJ Poljak is the points leader in the Penn Ohio Pro Stocks division racing at the Pennsylvania Motor Speedway. Click here for a link to their blog. Who knew?
Trundling along, keeping an eye out for cars, I took a detour to finish off Rand Street. My earlier run hadn’t gone all the way to the houses’ concrete apron as I did this time. By the time I got to Chapon’s Greenhouse, I was out of the city.
However, Baldwin Road winds so close to the Pittsburgh-Baldwin border, I continued another quarter mile to make sure. Turning around, I noticed this curious gorilla-worker, complete with lunch pail. On the way back, the sun was getting low in the sky and made the RR crossing signs appear on. No worries, no train crossed and I managed to avoid cars all the way back.
This run, RATS run #00482 took place last December, on a cool and misty Saturday morning. As I’m writing this, it’s mid-July, 2022, and another heat wave is predicted to brown the grass and sear the lungs. Between then and now, I’ve run two road marathons, done an unsupported 52 mile hike and completed the 36 mile, Rachel Carson Trail Challenge, so my running has been much more active than my street exploration.
Nonetheless, on December 11, I drove up to Riverview Park to start another exploration of Perry North and Ivory Avenue. I had several goals; finish Groyne Street, climb Mike Wolff Drive, explore Zane Place to the Zth degree, tool around Adna Place, and pick my way down Bluebelle until I found Peacock. With my phone in a ziplock bag to protect from the rain and mist, the pics all came out blurry.
Groyne was just a little drive between two houses going down Venture Street. But Mike Wolff Drive could be located by the TV tower in the distance. It’s quite a hilly drive. I made sure to go all the way to the end, where a dozen satellite dishes looked this way and that, gathering signals from all over. The TV tower has barnacle antennas all the way up its length. On the edges of the lot, steel guy wires keep the tower in place.
Next on the agenda was Zane Place. My maps showed it as two disjointed segments off of Nelson Run Road, so I was pleasantly surprised to find a footpath connecting the two sections. I had been dreading backtracking down Zane Place, but didn’t have to!
From here, I found my way to Adna Street. This is another driveway-like street. I surprisingly came across a friend of mine who I know as an awesome trail runner, up in these northern streets.
Now I scampered back to Perrysville Avenue. I pursued Phipps Street to it’s end at a large house overlooking I-279. (Strava has the name as “Philips”, but that’s probably wrong.) Then I took the Bluebelle steps, those rickety, slick wooden treads up to Peacock Way. Again, Strava says it is “Bluebelle Street”, but Google and the street-sign agree on Peacock. Past the garages, Peacock peters out into a grassy hilltop.
Returning down Peacock, where it becomes Amos Street, I was greeted by an amazing view. I’ve seen this view before, but I still think it’s cool that I could see the Observatory at Riverview Park from here. I made my way past Fiasco Art’s wild murals to Perrysville Avenue again.
Instead of going directly back to my car, I took Vinceton to Dornestic Street. My goal was Festoria Street, off of Oakdale. A few twists and turns and a large set of steps got me down to Oakdale, passing a horse pasture along the way.
I briefly went up Festoria, but, alas, no pics. Oakdale Street seems very remote. In reality, it is only a half-mile from neighborhoods packed with houses, lawns and cars. I followed Oakdale to Mairdale and went up into the park. Unfortunately, there was some construction and I ended up bushwhacking my way up to the road I was parked on.
And that was it, six miles on a cool late Autumn day.
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.
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.