Beechwood Farms (Audubon Center) Loop

This is a popular route for CMU cyclists, whether they be athletic or recreational riders. (I've been on two group trips that have taken this route). It features nice scenery along creek valleys, the Audubon Center itself, and the park areas in Fox Chapel; and except for one major hill, it's not too demanding, and you can bike it at whatever pace you like.

To get there, go out to Etna (preferably on the 62nd Street Bridge), go through town and pick up Route 8 north of town (see the Bridges file for hints on how to do this). Travel north on Route 8 for about half a mile (this is the worst part for traffic) and then turn right onto Saxonburg Blvd. Follow Saxonburg north from there.

Saxonburg follows a streambed all the way up to the Green Belt, so the road will rise all the way, but at a very slow rate for the most part. Most of the valley you travel along is wooded.

Eventually you'll reach the Green Belt at Hart's Run Rd. Here you can stop, buy something to eat or drink (there are stores on the corner, and an ice cream stand open in the warmer months). If you continue north on Saxonburg, you'll reach the east entrance to Hartwood Acres before going much farther. But to continue along the loop, turn right (east) on Hart's Run, and pedal up to the top of the hill. It's a long hill, and moderately steep, but with patience and a good low gear, it's doable. At the top of the hill, turn right. The Audubon Center will be on your right shortly.

The Audubon Center has several hiking trails on the grounds, including one which goes to a platform high above the floor of the woods. There's also a small store and library.

From the Audubon Center, continue south until you reach Squaw Run Rd. Turn left there, descending down a steep hill. (Stay to the right when the main road veers that way). You'll pass through another long wooded area, but since this part of the road is all downhill, you can sail through it. (Actually, I've heard that there are some really nice places to stop along this stretch, such as the Trillium Trail, and the scenery seems to bear that out; but so far I've been decadent and just whizzed past. More details on this stretch from someone who HAS stopped or detoured are welcome.)

Continue south onto Fox Chapel Rd., eventually crossing under Route 28. The road ends at Freeport Rd., between route 28 and the river. Turn right on Freeport, and then return to Pittsburgh via the Highland Park Bridge.

John Ockerbloom (