The Three Rivers Heritage Trail evolved from five separate trails and today comprises several unique sections. Most of these segments are riverfront trails along both banks of the three rivers that form Pittsburgh’s famous point: the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio.
The westernmost segment is also known as the Chateau Trail where it runs through the virtually uninhabited industrial neighborhood of that name. Sweeping river views greet trail users to the west, while the area’s warehouses and businesses line the trail on its opposite side. Trail users pass between the Ohio River and both the Rivers Casino and Carnegie Science Center before emerging into North Shore Park.
The park spans the distance between Heinz Field and PNC Park, the home venues of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Pirates, respectively. Here the Chateau Trail becomes the North Shore Trail segment, which continues uninterrupted upstream along the Allegheny River to just beyond Millvale’s Riverfront Park. The route provides an urban outdoor experience with vistas up and down the rivers, views of the development on the North Side, a connection to downtown Pittsburgh and close-ups of the contrast between old industry and new.
Take the trail bridge from the North Shore segment to Washington’s Landing, an island in the Allegheny River, to walk its loop trail. Or you can cross the 40th Street Bridge to experience Lawrenceville’s short, unpaved portion of the trail. Back west towards the stadiums, separated bicycle and pedestrian facilities on the handful of bridges over the Allegheny River allow trail users to access Pittsburgh’s downtown.
Here the trail runs on the south bank of the Allegheny River, passing Pittsburgh’s convention center in the shadow of the city’s skyscrapers. Traveling west on the trail leads to Point State Park at the confluence of the three rivers. The history-filled park features the remains of Fort Pitt and Fort Duquesne as well as a popular fountain that sprays water up to 150 feet in the air. East of downtown, the Strip District Trail runs through the former industrial neighborhood, now home to a number of street vendors, antique dealers and farmers’ markets during the summer months.
Extending southeast from Point State Park, the Eliza Furnace Trail—the oldest component of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail—has a history smelted from the city’s largest steel mills of the past. Today you are treated to an extensive array of museum-quality interpretive signage that lends a sense of history and place within the Pittsburgh region. This segment is also known as the Jail Trail, as it passes quickly by the Allegheny County Jail.
At the Hot Metal Bridge, the trail splits into two. The Panther Hollow segment runs south then abruptly turns north, leading directly to the 456-acre Schenley Park and close to both Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. The Hazelwood segment instead turns to the Monongahela River, running south along its eastern shore to Pittsburgh’s Hazelwood neighborhood. After a gap in the trail in Hazelwood, the short Duck Hollow segment begins, passing through dense woodlands next to an active rail line.
The Hot Metal Bridge, which once carried iron by rail from the Eliza furnaces to Pittsburgh’s south side to produce finished steel, has been converted to a pedestrian connection that crosses the Monongahela River and leads to the South Side Trail segment. This part of the trail runs through South Side Riverfront Park in the hip South Side Flats neighborhood, providing even more sweeping water views.
In the west, the trail morphs into the Station Square segment, which passes through the famous shopping and entertainment complex occupying buildings originally used by the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad. In the east, the South Side Trail becomes the Baldwin Borough segment of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. The trail leaves Pittsburgh here, running between the Monongahela River and an active rail corridor before reaching the community of Homestead at the Glenwood Bridge.
The trail that continues into Homestead is the 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage (GAP), which runs all the way to Cumberland, Maryland. In fact, three parts of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail (the South Side segment, Hot Metal Bridge and Eliza Furnace segment) also make up the northernmost route of the GAP to take long-distance trail trekkers into Point State Park and downtown Pittsburgh.
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