South Park

  • About 25 miles (?) round-trip
  • Mostly gentle hills (on the Streets Run route); a bit hillier before the park
  • Moderate city & suburban traffic for most of the way; light traffic in the park
  • When most people think of Pittsburgh bicycling, the South Hills is not the first area that comes to mind. (Nor, to be honest, even the second.) There are a few reasons for this: for one, almost the entire area is built up, meaning that bikers can expect to find noticeable traffic and few pastoral scenes on their ride through the area. Second, like the name says, there are the hills to deal with. There are few convenient ways to get into the South Hills area from Oakland that don't involve a long ascent somewhere along the line. On the other hand, once you're past the initial ascents, it's possible to avoid similarly large ones later on.

    So why bike in the South Hills? Well, there are a few destinations to the south that are worth bicycling to, one of them being South Park. And it's possible to find routes through the South Hills which make the journey fairly enjoyable, especially if you haven't seen much of the area before.

    For the trip out to South Park, you can avoid heavy climbing by taking Streets Run, which is at the south end of the Glenwood Bridge. (See the "Bridges" file for how to get to that bridge.) Streets Run, also known as Baldwin Street within the city limits, takes you south along a streambed and rail line, and for the most part rises very gently. A few miles in, you'll hit a T intersection; turn left to stay on Streets Run. Likewise, you should fork right when you hit a small village shortly afterwards, and stay to the left when you cross the railroad tracks shortly after that. After you cross route 51, you'll enter a suburban residential area, climb a little ways, and end up at Brownsville Road. Turn left. When you hit the Yellow Belt, stay on Brownsville Road by following the road to the right. Follow signs to South Park; there are various entrances marked.

    Once you're in South Park, there are many things you can do. The roads themselves are flat and low-traffic, so they can be fun to explore. There are also many picnic areas, a wave pool, a mini golf and roller-rink area, horse stables, a golf course, a small "game area" (though I mainly felt sorry for the animals on display there), and small playgrounds and walking trails scattered through the park.

    For a different return trip, take Baptist Rd. back. You can reach it by leaving the park going northwest on Corrigan Rd., or by going north out of the park to the Yellow Belt, and following it west a short distance to Baptist. Then take Baptist north. Eventually you will come to a 4-way intersection with Brownsville Road (farther north from where you joined it in your southbound trip.) Continue straight across the intersection to follow Brownsville northbound.

    Once you're back in the city limits, you can take a number of routes back. One of the first opportunities is Churchview Road, which will be on your right a little ways into the city. You can turn right on Churchview, and then left on Glass Run, which will take you down a creek valley to the end of the Glenwood Bridge. Or you can continue on Brownsville to the Blue Belt (Becks Run road), and take the right there; that will put you on route 837 between the Birmingham and Glenwood Bridges. Or you can follow Brownsville all the way to the end (though Mt. Oliver), and then go onto 18th Street to drop to the South Side. (Note: Brownsville does get busier the farther north you go, but since traffic is fairly slow-moving, this might not be much of a problem.)

    Last updated 18-Mar-91 by John Ockerbloom (