This was a six mile run up and down alleys and streets in Duquesne Heights, centering on Piermont Street. While the map makes Piermont “look” straight, it was as hilly as they come. On the other hand, with clear skies and brilliant sun, I really didn’t have any complaints. Duquense Heights, like many Pittsburgh neighborhoods is densely packed with houses, yet has some very woodsy areas too.
The early evening sun and low humidity made this a happy run. However, running in alleys is always fraught with uncertainty. Does the alley go through? Are there wild dingoes on this alley? Are there huge butterflies and gnomes? Tonight I found a huge butterfly and red gnome.
Running west on Piermont Street, I think I found the stairway to heaven. I even heard a voice saying “Come, come into the light”, only to find a young woman helping her grandmother read a map.
That was about it. In some areas, streets in one direction are relatively flat, while the cross streets are super steep. Here, they are generally steep in both directions. That makes running in Duquesne Heights and Mount Washington a challenge.
This was my favorite type of run – start with friends and then grab some new streets on the way back. Actually, my FAVORITE run would have been to have all these folks come with me, but a 300′ hill is a hard sell.
It was a cool, humid and cloudy morning. Temps held steady in the low 40’s with intermittent drizzle. We started at Ascend, nestled as it is between old multi-story brick buildings. We made our way to the Liberty Bridge, accessing the sidewalk via a muddy walk-way under the bridge and a short set of stairs to the deck. Once on the deck, the downtown skyline spread out before us.
Once in downtown, we zigged and zagged toward a water stop near the Wyndham. This was three miles in. The planned route took the group in a cloverleaf around downtown, coming back to this water stop several times. I decided to branch out on my own. I had various choices – explore more of Brighton Heights; criss-cross my way through Manchester; climb Greenleaf onto Mount Washington. Eventually, I decided on Greenleaf, in part because it was going to be closed for construction soon. After some tearful goodbyes (just kidding, a couple of people waved bye), I started out.
Now getting to Greenleaf is not straightforward. It is a small residential street which falls off of Mt. Washington into the West End Circle. To get to the West End Circle, I had to cross the West End Bridge and find my way to the other side of the Circle. The West End Bridge has approach ramps and stairs for pedestrians. The pedestrian ramps are notoriously flexible and you can feel it bucking up and down when a group runs across.
After crossing the bridge, I was able to cut across the circle, passing the end of Sawmill Run (notorious for flooding). Finally, I got to the base of Greenleaf Street.
From here it was up. On one hand there’s no sidewalks, on the other hand, there’s not much traffic. Even though you’re supposed to run facing traffic, on hills like this, I find running on the uphill side better. Cars aren’t going to be zipping by. Pretty quickly, Greenleaf climbed high enough to start showing off views.
At the top, Greenleaf wraps around into the modest residential neighborhood of Duquesne Heights. George and Guy Trail hugs the cliff below Skookum Field, where a baseball hit 190′ would tumble far down the cliff.
The views are spectacular and several snazzy houses vie for space along the cliff with the WBZZ radio tower. Small lanes between the newer houses had the best security. I felt watched.
Greenleaf Street continued through Duquesne Heights. This is an interesting area. Tall narrow houses are literally under large view-hogging condos. Street stairs and connecting stairs abounded. Greenleaf Street transformed into a stairway before transforming again into an alley. Sioux Way was part-stair, part brick.
Finally, I made my way to Grandview Avenue, that popular promenade overlooking Pittsburgh. At the eastern end of Grandview, Vinecliff Street, a weathered set of stairs and asphalt, struggles down the hill. I took that en route to finishing back at Ascend.