Love, Peace, and Joy and Those Beechview Hills

Here are two little five milers. One in the South Side Slopes and one in Beechview. One had twice the elevation gain as the other. Any guess which one? Read on to find out.
Route of RATS run #00401

This run started in my favorite spot in Beechview, Vanucci Park. I can park there without worrying if the car is going to roll down the hill. At any rate, I wanted to cover a couple of streets I had neglected near Coast Avenue as well as to explore Crane Avenue a bit. My impression had been that Crane was not safely runnable and wanted to verify that.

Immediately out of the park, I made a right up the Andick Way Steps. They took me past a basketball court. The squeak of shoes, ball clanging off the rim and trash talking spoke of games being played, even though the retaining wall was too high to see over.

The next turn was a left onto Kenberma Avenue. Kenberma falls rapidly under the electric trolley line known as “The T”. From the bottom, I wrapped around Hampshire Avenue to the Boulevard and the Fallowfield T-Station, a hundred feet above.

The next stop on my tour was Alverado Street. At the north end of Alverado, a set of crazily tilted steps drunkenly fall down the hillside. I followed, only to realize they went to a house, not through to another street, and backed out.

To wrap up this area, I decided to run up Canton Avenue; the tenth of a mile street which is the steepest in the US. At the top, I explored the stairs off to the left which took me back to Coast Street, with only a 13% grade.

With this section done, I headed up Fallowfield to Crane Avenue. Crane is no bigger than the residential streets I had just been on, but has more traffic and fewer sidewalks. I feel like city planners intentionally said “we don’t want anyone walking here!” I crept down to Shadycrest, which, unfortunately is deemed government property and is awash with “No Trespassing” signs. From there, Crane Avenue makes a steep descent to Banksville Road; blind turn, no shoulder, no sidewalk, maybe another time.

I ventured the other direction on Crane, diving into Lowenhill Street behind Brashear High School. The basketball courts there were eerily silent while quiet dog-walkers ignored the signs and traipsed their canine cares around the field.
Route of RATS run #00402

The evening was heavy with humidity when I started this run in the South Side flats. Going into the slopes by way of Quarry Street I passed under the Mission Street bridge and skirted the edge of South Side Park. The houses are tall and thin. All the houses in this row have three floors, a basement and attic.

Further on, as I criss crossed Freeland Street the skies opened up. A pedestrian shouted out “Great running weather!” and dodged into a house. The steps became gushing rivers.

Thoroughly soaked, I came back down Brosville Street and was awarded with some neat views of the retreating storm. Thank goodness for the towels I had in my car.

So, what was your guess? More elevation in Beechview or the South Side Slopes? If you guessed Beechview, you were correct! 1,034′ vs 596′

Not sure, might be a dead-end

No Outlet No Kidding
No Outlet No Kidding

This late morning run is brought to you by hills and hills and hills. Yes, this is Beechview, for all you arm-chair runners. I had previously called Greenfield the “Land of Hills”. This must be the “Motherland of Hills”. Beechview is a little bit out of my way, though I have actually run here before, doing the Hell on Hills 5K a few years ago. Check out the race! It was fun, though grueling.

I started on Westfield St, right above a cute little playground and ball field. Looking out over the fences I could see the top of the UPMC Building, in downtown Pittsburgh several miles away.

UPMC Tower from Playground Hill
UPMC Tower from Playground Hill

I ran down Westfield, which goes all the way to a T-stop, then wound my way up and down hilly dead-ends. Princess, Brookside, Platt, Traymore were all lined with neat houses clinging to the steep streets. There were many “No Outlet” signs warning of dead-ends. Mostly they were accurate. Eventually I came to the eastern terminus of Hampshire Ave.

Hampshire runs roughshod over the massive hills in this area, taking no contours and no easy ways. Of course, it, too, ends in a dead-end. Actually three, count ’em, three “No Outlet” signs graced the corner of Hampshire and Napoleon! This is just before Hampshire ends at Canton Ave (“steepest street in America“). Now, I had hopes of getting down to Banksville Road and running UP Canton, so I was delighted to see a public stair off to the right as I ran past the “No Outlet” signs. The stairs looked promising, but, alas, just became more and more overgrown.

Sometimes, that’s what happens when you ignore signs. You get stuck at the bottom of a dead-end, with no where to go but to retrace your steps and get out of there. Continuing on, I made it down to Banksville Road via Canton and Coast. I took a break and got my bearings again. There were so many hot, hilly streets to run on! However, I was beat and just followed Fallowfield, to Sebring Ave, then to Westfield, where I had parked my car. It was a good start, though, in this neighborhood of crazy steep streets called Beechview.

PS Fallowfield was no walk on the beach either.

Fallowfield St in Beechview
Fallowfield St in Beechview

Whoops! Forgot to post the Strava map! Here it is:

Strava map of route for Run All The Streets run number 55
Strava map of route for Run All The Streets run number 55