Ragged Ravine Run

“So, you want to be chased by dogs?”

RATS #00221 – In the Ravines

I planned this run thoroughly. Conveniently starting at Riverview Park, I would run around the park on the streets in the ravines. As usual, I had “runtime” surprises, including mapping inaccuracies with OpenStreetMap. If you haven’t looked carefully, you might not realize that maps from Strava and Google Maps are different. Strava uses OpenStreetMap, which relies on individuals to make corrections, whereas Google has their streets view cars and other tools. I suppose I need to contribute to OpenStreetMap myself, to make corrections.

OpenStreetsMap had an error about Doak Way. It placed it further down Dornestic than it actually is. On the other hand, I knew there was a set of steps from Dornestic to Dalton. I wasn’t sure if it this was in addition to Doak Way or not. While investigating this, a rather beefy bulldog mix decided to investigate me. He barked a little and sniffed, and was uncomfortably close to my calves. I was relieved when a man came quickly off of his porch and, in coaxing tones, said “Come on back! He doesn’t want to play with you!” Maybe if I had had a ball. Now I was a little unnerved, but no worse for wear, so I waved off the dog and went down the steps.

I uncovered a tiny blue church with mossy steps. Following Glenside Street as it becomes Oakdale Street, I was once again struck by the rural character of this nook of Pittsburgh. Oakdale Street eventually becomes dotted with houses, still very rural in feeling. Festoria Street is a dead-end dog-leg off of Oakdale. As I was about to make the turn to the dead-end, a woman came out of a house and asked me what I was doing. She was less than enthusiastic about me running up to the dead-end, so I turned around and went out on Oakdale. She was friendly enough, I suppose, but the first person to challenge me running on a public street, dead-end or not. When I checked later, Google Streetview had not gotten further, so they must have gotten the same message.

After that, the houses went downhill. I did come across the a house which looked like it dropped out of tornado in Oz. What is this anyway? A deluxe outhouse? Further on Oakdale, there are hulks of old cars and industrial debris just off the road.

Continuing on Woods Run I explored the small streets above Woods Run near Central Avenue. Here there were more OpenStreetsMap snafus and another loose dog nipping at my heels. This time, I only heard bottles clinking; no one called the dog back. At this point, I decided to cut short the run. That area, near Sorento and Smithton, quickly becomes very inner city, with houses tightly packed on each other. Honestly, while some houses are a mess, many are fine. There’s at least a half-dozen sets of stairs.

Smithton, Rothpletz and Grand Avenue all converge into Kilbuck Road at the bottom of Riverview Park. I came across the stables for the Pittsburgh Police and eventually ran into Riverview Park while getting a close-up view of a salt-dome.

So, I was a bit disappointed with this run. While there were some nice areas, the threat of loose dogs, auto wreckage and a greying sky dimmed the early promise. Nonetheless, got a good five miles in.

Warning: Bridge Closed Ahead

RATS #00206 – Termon Avenue and Brighton Heights
RATS #00210 – Riverview Park to Gass Ave and back

Last Wednesday, I decided to run in Brighton Heights, centering on Termon Avenue and catching a few additional streets. Yesterday, I had very much the same thought about Riverview Park and its environs. Turns out that these were complementary adventures, each one reaching opposing piers of the former Davis Avenue Bridge. Both runs also traversed Woods Run Road and found pink houses along the way.

On a brilliant evening I started on Terman Avenue , which stretches from an Ohio River overlook to Brighton Heights Park. Overall, this was a great area for running with wide streets and a vibrant neighborhood. It was relatively flat for awhile, then ended in steps and ravines as often always happens in Pittsburgh. I went up Wapello Street stairs to Cornell Street and did Harvard Circle, which was a bit disappointing. Instead of a level green lawn with libraries and philosophers discussing the meaning of life, it was a narrow street ringed by modest houses enclosing a hill of wild trees.

Zig-zagging along Aqua Way, I hit another section of the Wapello Street Stairs, adorned with these Spring=like tree murals.

Going up and down the streets, I noticed a rather old detour sign saying the Davis Avenue Bridge was closed. Being who I am, I had to see just how closed it was. I was hoping for maybe a pedestrian path across a little bridge, or a sidewalk available next to some construction. In fact, the pier was substantial, but the bridge itself was gone. The Davis Avenue Bridge had been closed for YEARS, eleven to be exact.

Now, I’ll fast forward to yesterday’s run starting in Riverview Park. I parked along the grand promenade into the park. The apex of the park is Allegheny Observatory.

Running around and around the park roads eventually took me to Woods Run. Roughly my target was to go up Gass Street, and circle back around. Along the way, I got a call from work, so for a few confusing blocks, I was doing phone support for an ERP while finding my way around small streets and stairs above Woods Run Road. I suppose I could have just stopped.

Finally getting off the call, I found myself under Shadeland Avenue Bridge. I got an up-close look at the big church under the California Avenue Bridge. Apparently it is historic and seems to still have services. Unfortunately, it is a big building and in disrepair, so I hope that congregation can keep it maintained.

Finally, I found the Gass Avenue Steps, which lead to a very steep Gass Street, but high on the other side of Woods Run. I took the long way around and came back to Riverview Park via Bascom Avenue, passing Perry Traditional Academy.

So, it the neighborhoods in Northern Pittsburgh are divided by the great Woods Run chasm. The only bridge to span that ravine is gone and getting from one side to the other is quite the chore now.