My God It's Full of Stairs! Pittsburgh Step Trek 2011

Today was a beautiful, sunny, warm day, as promised earlier by the weather forecasts. Abby and I did the 11th annual Pittsburgh Step Trek for the first time. I wish I’d known about this event in earlier years! It was a truly unique event, an urban hike of the Pittsburgh South Side Slopes, with all its many staircases, zig-zagging streets, historic buildings, and great views of the city.


We did about six miles of fantastic sightseeing (and got a pretty good workout while at it):

We arrived at the registration area in South Side Park, and immediately, people started asking about the Vibram FiveFingers shoes that Abby and I were wearing: Abby was wearing her Sprint and I was wearing my KSO. Throughout the Step Trek we would get asked about them by many other curious trekkers! We always got the same kinds of questions: “Are they comfortable?” and “Do they provide enough protection/support?” The answer is yes, they are pretty comfortable, and yes, they are sufficiently protective and supportive, if you learn to walk more carefully, and develop your foot and leg muscles; and there are different models we use for different terrains and activities. For example, I have mentioned in previous posts my running on the roads in Bikila LS, and running and hiking off road in KSO Trek shoes.

After we checked in with our tickets (pre-registered earlier) and were given a booklet for the self-guided tour for the Step Trek, we started our trek. There were two looping routes outlined, the Black route (3.02 miles, with 1,250 steps) and the Gold route (2.89 miles, with 1,222 steps). We decided to do one route first and then the other immediately following.

We started off with the Gold route, entering South Side Park and immediately taking the 72 serpentine steps up.

Serpentine steps at South Side Park


Below is just a minuscule sample of what else we saw. You’d have to do the Step Trek to experience it yourself!

Here’s a nice view of Pittsburgh during the trek:

Nice view of Pittsburgh

Here’s another one:

Another nice view of Pittsburgh

Here is a paper street, Caesar Way, which is actually a staircase rather than an actual street! Pittsburgh has a number of these I have encountered before.

Caesar Way (paper street)

A typical staircase leading connecting areas of different elevation:

A staircase

A beautiful view while descending on a road. The old St. Josaphat church is visible down the road:

Descent on road

One of the bi-level streets we saw, with fencing separating the two levels:

One of the bi-level streets

Me just enjoying a little break at the Eleanor Street parklet:

Franklin on swing at the Eleanor Street parklet


After we returned from finishing both the Gold and Black routes, we enjoyed watermelon slices, oranges, and bananas. Because it was so sunny, we were both slightly sunburned.

Earlier, we enjoyed the official rest stops that provided beverages, bite-sized candy bars, and port-a-johns. A very nicely organized event, with clear signs posted periodically along the routes and friendly crossing guards at fast-moving roads.

One thing we particular enjoyed after finishing was looking at the gallery of historic photos in one of the tents. It was eerie seeing those black and white photos of streets we had walked that were once dirt roads for horses, construction of bridges and staircases, old homes that are still standing now (and renovated). I wish there were more of the before/after photos. Maybe decades from now we’ll see YouTube time-lapse videos of how things are now in our neighborhoods and how things will be then!

(Update of 2012-10-06)

The following year, sadly, I did not do the Pittsburgh Step Trek again, because of a schedule conflict with the Fineview Stepathon that I did instead. We’ll have to see what the schedules are for 2013.

(Update of 2013-9-25)

Unfortunately, because of schedule conflicts again, Abby and I will not able to attend Step Trek. It seems that everything in Pittsburgh happens on the weekend of Step Trek.

But I attended a special preview tour that enabled me to catch up on changes and also promote the event.

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