Ever since moving to South Side Flats last year I’ve regularly gone out on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail that snakes along the neighborhood’s edge beside the Monongahela River. My initial forays followed the trail west toward downtown, and I stuck to that stretch throughout the past year. This summer, however, I changed up my routine and started heading eastward on the trail toward Homestead. Recently I made a long-planned bike trip taking the trail all the way down to Homestead’s Waterfront.
It was the first week of October and the trail was dusted with fallen leaves; most of the trees were still green but a few had begun to change colors, portending the autumnal transition that has taken hold since.
The westward stretch of the trail features sporadic historical markers providing information about the area’s industrial past and certain significant events.
The old pumping station is fenced off yet bears the graffitied indicators of urban exploration.
Looking across the opposite side of the trail, where East Carson Street meets Becks Run Road, you can see the Pennsylvania American Water facility that replaced the pumping station (across the street from Page’s Dairy Mart, a beloved local ice cream shop).
The river trail briefly passes through the borough of Baldwin, with signs demarcating the approximate boundaries.
An informational placard in the Baldwin Borough portion of the trail tells the story of bicyclist and photographer Frank Lenz, “Pittsburgh’s Lost Cyclist” who disappeared in 1894 while attempting to cycle around the globe.
Not much further along the trail you’ll encounter the Hays Bald Eagle Nest Viewpoint, complete with seating to accommodate birdwatchers while they look for eagles. I’ve yet to spot one myself.
There’s actually a few eagle-related fixtures in this area of the trail, such as these markers made as part of an Eagle Scout project by Pittsburgh’s Troop 109.
As you near Homestead you can catch a glimpse of the Glenwood Bridge. With its distinctive blue coloring and subtle cantilever profile, I think it’s one of Pittsburgh’s underrated river-spanning bridges.
The path to the Waterfront takes you past Sandcastle Water Park. They’re closed for the season so the park’s colorful waterslides and parking lot booths silently await next summer.
Finally I stopped to rest my bike against one of the Homestead Smokestacks.
Here’s an uncut video of the entire ride: