Pittsburgh has many lovely scenic roads for biking and running, but many of us just don't like the hills, or could do without having to worry about being hit by a car. If this sounds like you, then check out one of Pittsburgh's great rail trails, most of which have grades of no more than 1-2%. One of the most popular is the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, which covers nine different trail sections in and around downtown Pittsburgh, including the North Shore Trail, the Southside Trail, the Eliza Furnace Trail and the Pittsburgh Riverwalk. Out in the suburbs, the 40+ mile Montour Trail and the 29-mile Panhandle Trail are easily accessible from a large number of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. If you live near McDonald, where the two trails cross, you're especially blessed!
Two new bridges just opened on the Montour Trail in late July, leaving only two at-grade crossings remaining in more than 35 miles of the Montour Trail from Coraopolis to Route 88 in South Park Township. This year also marked the opening of the new Montour Trail Airport Connector spur in Findlay Township connecting the trail to the Pittsburgh International Airport. And then there is the time and cost of upkeep of the trail surface - a big effort for volunteer-led organizations. If you have time, there are a number of ways that you can volunteer to get out and help clean up or even participate in construction - check out the Web sites for the Montour Trail Council, Friends of the Riverfront and Steel Valley Trail Council. The Panhandle Trail is maintained primarily by the communities through which it passes, but the Collier Friends of the Panhandle Trail is a good place to start for more information. If you don't have time, but still enjoy using the trails, there are several charity events held throughout the year to support the trails, such as this month's Rock the Quarry XII on the Panhandle Trail, and next month's Montour Trail Half Marathon or Tour the Montour trail ride. Or you can always just make a donation!