Three Rivers Heritage Trail

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The Three Rivers Heritage Trail[1] is an urban rail-trail paralleling the riverbanks in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for about 25 miles (40 km), often on both sides of the rivers, and offering a spectacular view of the city. The trail is promoted and maintained in part by the Friends of the Riverfront.[2] Their mission is to increase awareness and engagement with the region’s rivers and riverfronts through activities and stewardship, and to extend the water and land trails on the major rivers within Allegheny County.

At the Pittsburgh Point State Park, there are three rivers: the Allegheny River and Monongahela River unite to form the Ohio River. The Three Rivers Heritage Trail extends three miles (5 km) up the north side of the Allegheny River to Millvale, and also three miles (5 km) down the north bank of the Ohio River to Brunot Island. On the Monongahela River the trail goes five miles (8 km) upriver from Station Square to a point just short of the Waterfront Shopping District.

Unpaved portion in Strip District

Within the city, the trail takes the names of neighborhoods through which it passes. The north bank of the Allegheny River is Pittsburgh’s North Side also known as Northside, and the trail is referred to locally as the North Shore Trail. On the north bank of the Ohio River the trail is called the Chateau Trail because of nearby Chateau Street. On the south bank of the Allegheny it goes through the food market area and is called the Strip District Trail.[3]

On Monongahela River's north bank it is called the Eliza Furnace Trail because it passes the site where the Jones and Laughlin Steel Company once had its Eliza furnaces. Some people call this section the Jail Trail because it also passes the Allegheny County Jail on its way to Oakland, the University Center of the city. A branch that extends into Schenley Park in Oakland is called the Panther Hollow Trail. As it moves further up the Monongahela River towards Frick Park it is called the Duck Hollow Trail, because that is where a stream exits the park into the Monongahela. On the south bank of the Monongahela in Pittsburgh’s South Side, it is called the South Side Trail.

Pittsburgh is one terminus of the 335-mile (539 km) long Great Allegheny Passage (GAP)[4] that connects the city to Cumberland, Maryland, and Washington, DC. The route of GAP uses five miles (8 km) of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. Within the city, the GAP goes from the Waterfront Mall and Sandcastle upstream on the Monongahela River, and then at the South Side Works crosses the river on the Hot Metal Bridge. Finally it uses the north bank of the Monongahela to reach the Pittsburgh Point.

The Friends of the Riverfront[5] have also developed and administer the Three Rivers Water Trail,[6] along the riverfronts of Allegheny County, for kayakers and canoeists, with access points, parking areas and boat racks. Another important activity is the annual Pittsburgh Triathlon,[7] a competition for top athletes who use the land and water routes to bike, run, and swim for this Olympic qualifier. A less demanding version is the Adventure Race,[8] for friends, families and teams who wish to paddle, bike and run a shorter yet challenging course.

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