When we think of the bike trail most of us refer to the section of The Great Allegheny Passage that runs from Connellsville through Ohiopyle and on to Confluence.
Hundreds of thousands of riders use this section of the trail each year and, judging by all the out-of-state license plates already showing up, this year promises to be another blockbuster.
The Great Allegheny Passage actually runs from Downtown Pittsburgh to Washington D.C. And many consider it to be the premier bike trail in America. On many days when I am riding the trail we will come upon bikes loaded with saddle bags and camping gear for those who are making part, or the entire journey. Many of these thru bikers also plan their ride to take advantage of the many nice accommodations that now support these longer journeys.
I spend at least several days a week riding the trail and frequently encounter a variety of wildlife. Plenty of deer, chipmunks, woodpeckers, a few bears over the years and usually an eagle or two that add a thrill to the ride. If you pay attention after the weather warms a bit you can also spot a few snakes lurking and if you leave them alone they will mind their business and be of no harm.
In just a few short weeks the forest has almost completely greened and the spring wildflowers are finishing their bloom.
This past week I had the occasion to be in Pittsburgh and on a spur of the moment I decided to bike the section of the bike trail from downtown Pittsburgh to the Waterfront. Plenty of good parking is available on the Southside under the Birmingham Bridge. From here you can bike into town or go on one of several trails down the Ohio, or up the Allegheny.
I decided to stay on the Passage and follow the Monongahela River. The trail is covered with trees and for the most part shaded from the summer sun. It’s also paved and very easy to ride. Like the Ohiopyle section it has the river on one side and the forested green hills on the other.
It is, however, an urban corridor and has a different flavor to it. Deer can be seen on occasion and the big thrill is the Hays Bald Eagle Nest located between the Southside and Kennywood Amusement Park location. As of today the nest has three little ones that were hatched between March 23rd and the 27th. You can view the nest live in real time by going to the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania website and clicking on the Pittsburgh Hays Bald Eagle Cam.
It is truly fascinating to watch these little ones being fed and moving about the nest. Bikers along the trail frequently stop and look for the adults soaring up and down the river looking for food for the family.
Across the river is Oakland and the University of Pittsburgh and just a few miles away is Downtown Pittsburgh. Mother Nature is just so adaptable.
Over the weekend the weather across our region is going to make a pattern change and favor us with some milder temperature in the 70s.
After several weeks of chilly wet days we are all looking forward to some sunny mild days and a chance to take a bike ride, hike or just get out in the garden as the danger of frost appears to be over for this year.