Resources Abound for Bike Trail Information, Education
May 31, 2019 12:46PM
By Kathleen Ganster
Photo courtesy Trail Pittsburgh
Ask anyone who lives here–western Pennsylvania is beautiful. And one of the best ways to enjoy it is on a bike. Fortunately, there are hundreds of bike trails that make getting outside easy for anyone in the Greater Pittsburgh area.
Trail Pittsburgh is a resource that every biker—and hiker—should know. The nonprofit organization is dedicated to creating, enhancing and preserving great single-track experiences in regional parks, according to board member Aaron Kahn.
“We strive to provide the residents of southwestern Pennsylvania with sustainable, multi-use trail experiences with minimal environmental impact through advocacy, education, stewardship, and strategic partnerships with land managers,” he said. “By facilitating safe and fun recreation, Trail Pittsburgh connects citizens with the region’s expansive outdoor assets to encourage an active, healthy lifestyle.”
Trail Pittsburgh is a chapter member of the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) which is a great advantage, according to Kahn.
“It enables us to expand our reach and take advantage of IMBA’s extensive support and expertise,” he explained. “Our genesis was originally for the mountain biking community, though with the exception of freeride trails and pump tracks, we design and maintain single track trails for trail runners, hikers, and bikers alike.”
Since it is Trail Pittsburgh’s objective to be “the one-stop-shop for all education, questions, comments, and concerns related to the trails throughout southwestern PA,” they can assist bikers and hikers on many levels.
“If someone is just getting into mountain biking, we can direct them to apps, groups and specific trails that will safely welcome them into the sport. If an existing trail user notices hazards on a trail, for example, then we encourage riders to relay that information to us,” Kahn said.
The organization has trail stewards and volunteers who help maintain the trails and work with other entities including the city and county to fix them.
Trail Pittsburgh also hosts numerous events including steward training, trail work days and one that should appeal to the child in everyone, the Month of Mud and Dirt Fest.
“Trail Pittsburgh also invests a large amount of time and resources in the Alameda Park trail system, so we will be hosting a big party and a number of group rides to kick off the riding season,” said Kahn, adding that they encourage riders of all skill levels and ages to join them on June 9 at Alameda Park in Butler County for the event, Ride Our Awesome Trails.
A quick visit to Trail Pittsburgh’s website can provide information on the trails of several parks in the area, the latest trail cautions and updates, and upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.
Biker Kelli Jones often suggests Trail Pittsburgh to other riders.
“They are a great organization—a nonprofit dedicated to maintaining and improving single track trails around the area. Volunteering with them is a great way to give back to the parks that give us so much joy,” she said.
Jones knows biking; she commutes to her job at Golden Triangle Bike in downtown Pittsburgh and works part-time as a bike courier. She is also an avid mountain biker.
“North Park is my favorite area for mountain biking. It has such a wide variety of trails and options; a little something for everyone. And the amount of space is fantastic. There is plenty of room to rip around or stop and session a trail feature without getting in anyone else’s way,” she said, adding that Denny’s Trail is her favorite.
Another handy resource for riders is the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. Jones actually developed her love of bike riding on the rails-to-trails a few years ago.
“I started dabbling in it on the rails trails a few years ago, just after seeing so many folks around town doing it,” she said.
The national nonprofit is committed to developing and maintaining a network of trails created from former rail lines to build more opportunities for recreation and to encourage healthier lifestyles.
In the state of Pennsylvania, there are 183 rails trails with 1,911 miles of trail. The Great Allegheny Passage is the fourth longest rails trail in the country with 150 miles of trail from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, MD. The trail connects with the C & O Canal Towpath at mile 184.5 to complete a 333-mile trek to Washington, DC.
Jones also suggests Bike PGH.
“Bike PGH is a great resource in general, but especially for city riding,” she said. “They do good work as an advocacy group for bikers and pedestrians and host Pedal PGH, the Women & Non-Binary Bike Forum and the Open Streets events. And they also offer classes for improving bike skills.”
For more information on Trail Pittsburgh including trails, events and workdays, visit http://www.trailpittsburgh.org. Information on the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy can be found at https://www.railstotrails.org. Information on Bike PGH can be found at https://www.bikepgh.org.