Gold/West Route 2022

1. Pittsburgh StepTrek 2022 – Gold Route - If joining from the Black/East Route, begin with #5. * Denotes history or significant site.

2. S. 21st St. - You are standing at the top of S. 21st St. in South Side Park. Begin by walking toward Mission St. Bridge.

3. * South Side Park - Efforts continue to reclaim a 64 acre park that extends from Josephine St. below to the heights of the Slopes. In this wooded hillside are streams, ball fields and footpaths. Volunteers have removed invasive plants and helped build its trails. Helping trim the aggressive knotweed and vines are a small herd of bovids, brought in for a few weeks as part of the Annual Goat Fest. With funding from The Brashear Association, South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association partnered with Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, Landforce and the Student Conservation Association to create this neighborhood asset. Friends of South Side Park manages its ongoing work.

4. Mission St. Bridge & Steps - Under the bridge towering over StepTrek registration and Marketplace are the Mission St. Steps. You’ll find them under the left side of the bridge. Climb a total of 102 steps to the intersection of Mission St. and S. 18th St.

5. S. 18th St. - Cross S. 18th St. at light to Pius St. on the opposite side.

6. Pius St. - Continue along left side of Pius. Signs of prior commercial use on ground floor storefronts dot the street, as seen at 178 Pius, a restaurant and former social club, and 126 Pius, which once housed a neighborhood bakery. Signage throughout the Slopes points out public stairs such as S. 18th St. Steps, located before 107 Pius St.

7. * All Wars Memorial - Just past 107 Pius St., overlooking South Side Flats, is the small, but tidy All Wars Memorial, which is maintained by Slopes’ residents. Tucked behind a gate and row of shrubs, the site honors members of the community who served their country. State Elm Street funds permitted extensive improvements that included landscaping, fencing, sidewalks and new flagstone. The renovations were completed and memorial rededicated on September 11, 2007.

8. Pius St. Cont’d - Continue along Pius toward town. The former convent at 66 Pius Street, on the left, is now a condominium complex. The building was once part of St. Michael Parish. You’ll make a right on S. 15th St., but here is some background on the parish.

9. * St. Michael’s Parish - At 44 Pius is the former St. Michael’s Madchen Schule and previous home of the Veronica’s Veil playhouse. The theater hosted a series of plays throughout the year but was most famous for its Passion play, Veronica’s Veil. Performed during Lent, it was said to be the longest running play in American community theater. These buildings were part of St. Michael’s Parish. A plan to redevelop the site into living units is currently under review. The next building housed the Burning Bush, which had offered a retreat center for quiet meditation in overnight rooms.

10. * St. Michael Church - The influence of the church was strong in the Slopes. St. Michael parish started in a house in 1848 where the church front now stands. Designed by Charles Bartberger of Stuttgart, Germany, the church was built between 1855 and 1860 on land donated by German immigrants. The surrounding land reminded them of the Rhine River valley. Though it has a gothic spire, the overall style is Rhineland Romanesque Rival similar to rural Bavarian churches. The church was closed through a consolidation of parishes and has been redeveloped into condominiums.

11. * Cholera Plague of 1849 - In 1849, a deadly cholera plague struck Pittsburgh. The parish could not find enough burial places for its deceased members. Parishioners prayed to St. Roch and vowed to keep a day holy if the plague would cease. It did. Another plague hit the city in 1853 but no members of St. Michael died. Cholera Day is observed each August in Prince of Peace Parish on the South Side, the successor to St. Michael Parish.

12. S. 15th St. - Make right before St. Michael Church and descend the 26 steps along left side to Clinton St.

13. S. 15th St. Steps - Continue past Clinton to set of steps dropping through the trees. Descend the 60 stairs to the footbridge over the Norfolk Southern Railroad.

14. * Pedestrian Bridges - At the request of SSSNA & Slopes residents, the City and railroad completed this footbridge and the other at S. 10th St. in 2002. The span is made of the same COR-TEN steel as the UPMC (former U.S. Steel) tower downtown. The brown rust serves as a protective coating over the steel frame. The bridges reinstated pedestrian access between the Slopes and Flats. Another SSSNA effort brought safety lighting to the two bridges. At the end of the bridge, descend 59 steps.

15. S. 15th St. Cont’d - To the right is the former Polska Szkola built in 1898. Continue down S. 15th St. one half block to Breed St. A couple of doors down S. 15th St., on the left, is St. Adalbert Church. This is the sole active Roman Catholic church in the South Side since the consolidation of local parishes.

16. Breed St. - Make left and walk along this shady street of mostly brick houses to S. 12th St.

17. S. 12th St. - Be careful as you cross S. 12th St. Make right and walk 20 feet to Mary Ann St.

18. Mary Ann St. - Make left and continue to end of street.

19. S. 11th St. - Make right and walk one block

20. Freyburg St. - Make left and continue to S. 10th St.

21. S. 10th St. & Steps - Make left and climb 57 steps to S. 10th St. Pedestrian Bridge, a sister to S. 15th St. Bridge, erected in the same year. Stop mid-span and look left to view the spectacular St. Michael church on the hillside. Continue across the railroad tracks and climb 49 steps to Fritz St.

22. Fritz St. - Make right and continue past German Square. Fritz turns into Windom St.

23. Windom St. - Continue on Windom St. past row of houses on your left. View Cupple Stadium, South Side and downtown to your right.

24. Lauer Way Steps - About 100 feet past last house on left are Lauer Way Steps. Make left and climb the 83 steps to Newton St.

25. Newton St. - Turn left and walk along Newton St. Landslides are an ongoing issue throughout Pittsburgh’s hilly terrain. Here, the city made a large investment in 2017 to secure the street after a landslide impacted the hillside.

26. Owl Way Steps - Continue along Newton St., which becomes Owl Way, the dirt trail at its end. Keep straight and descend 128 steps to German Square, which was named after the German families who settled on the Slopes.

27. German Square Steps - At bottom of Newton St. Steps, make an immediate right and climb the adjacent 265 steps from German Square to Hartford St.

28. Hartford St. - There are two options from here. The Beer Spur is an additional, longer route. It follows Arlington Ave. up to Allentown business district, which hosts the Allentown Night Market later this evening. It then descends Brosville St. to rejoin the West Route at Knoxville Incline Greenway. It consists of a sidewalk that rises along the Slopes without any steps. The route picks up below. The Knoxville Incline Greenway begins at the opposite end of Hartford St. and then drops down the Slopes via Welsh Way. The route picks up at #37 below.

29. Beer Spur – Hartford St. - Make right and walk along Hartford to Arlington Ave.

30. Beer Spur – Arlington Ave. - Make left and walk up 0.4 miles to E. Warrington Ave.

31. * Allentown Night Market - Oct. 1 from 7 – 11 p.m. This curious bi-annual artist and performance faire hosts over 100 unusual and offbeat artisans and crafters, live performances, food and beverage vendors all within 4 indoor/outdoor markets that sprawl the 800 block of Warrington Ave. 

32. Beer Spur – E. Warrington Ave. - After a cold one or exploration of Allentown, recross Arlington Ave. to E. Warrington. Walk to the right of the Dairy Mart to Brosville St.

33. Beer Spur – Brosville St. - Make left. Descend 0.2 miles along the left side of Brosville to Knoxville Incline Greenway.

34. Beer Spur – Knoxville Incline Greenway - Make left and follow a gravel, timber-lined foot trail that marks the entrance. Cross over the bridge to Welsh Way Steps on the other side.

35. Beer Spur – Welsh Way Steps - Make right and descend the 111 steps. Enjoy the rustic beauty.

36. Beer Spur – Rejoin West Route - See #42 listed below.

37. Hartford St. Cont’d - Make left at top of German Square steps and follow Hartford St. Notice the houses constructed below street level on left. Ahead are both St. Josaphat and St. Michael church steeples. Keep to right to descend 27 wooden steps to street’s end.

38. Hartford St. Steps - Make left and descend 70 wooden steps to Fritz St. and Knoxville Incline Trail.

39. Fritz St. & Knoxville Incline Trail - Turn right. The trail follows a permanent greenway that connects the Flats to the top of the Slopes along what was Fritz St. It’s hard to believe you’re in the city! Be careful as you walk Knoxville Incline Trail to Welsh Way Steps.

40. * Knoxville Incline Greenway - Dedicated in 2016, the Greenway is the most recent Slopes park and honors the Knoxville Incline’s history. Created in partnership with GTECH Strategies as part of its ReClaim South program, the trail follows what was Fritz St. and leads to a bridge over a deep ravine lined with large-stone retaining walls. The incline ran through there from 1890 to 1960. Over the years, SSSNA members have pulled several hundred tires from the ravine as part of an area clean up. SSSNA and Allentown CDC donated the trees planted at the entrance from Brosville St.

41. Welsh Way Steps - Just before the bridge over the former Knoxville Incline are Welsh Way Steps. Make left and descend the 111 steps. Enjoy the rustic beauty.

42. Welsh Way - Continue down Welsh Way. The Knoxville Incline, which began below on Bradish St., once climbed through the ravine to the right behind the collection of small, 1890’s houses. Remnants of the incline’s retaining walls can still be seen in the rear yards. It was the longest incline in Pittsburgh and the only one to curve as it ascended.

43. * The Dirty Dozen - Each fall, Pittsburgh organization hosts a 50-mile bike race that goes up 13 of its steepest hills. Welsh Way is one of the Dirty Dozen. Another is Eleanor St. on the East Route. This event his year is Sat., Oct. 22.

44. Brosville St. Steps - Welsh Way bends to the right and meets S. 12 St. at Brosville St. Be careful as you cross to opposite side and turn right to climb 44 steps on left side of street.

45. St. Michael Steps - At corner of Brosville & Pius Streets is the former St. Michael Church. When ready, cross to St. Michael Steps on the opposite side and climb these 150 steps to Hackstown St.

46. Hackstown St. - Make a right at the top of St. Michael Steps and cross Hackstown to St. Thomas St. Steps.

47. St. Thomas St. Steps - Make left and ascend 78 steps that lead to St. Joseph’s Way and St. Thomas St.

48. St. Thomas St. - Continue up St. Thomas to Monastery St. Stay right to climb 5 steps. Look right to view downtown and the rivers.

49. Monastery St. Steps - Cross street and make left to ascend 15 steps on the right side. These steps and sidewalk were rebuilt a few years ago as part of a project to replace a larger set of steps that ran the length of Monastery. At the top lies the historical St. Paul of the Cross Monastery.

50. * St. Paul of the Cross Monastery - Known as the barefoot missionaries, the Passionists vowed to live a life of prayer, poverty, penance and solitude. The first bishop of Pittsburgh invited the Italian order over in 1852. Designed by the architect Charles Bartberger, who also designed St. Michael Church, the church was completed in 1859 in the midst of an 11 acre compound chosen for its serenity, natural beauty and seclusion. The architectural style is Romanesque. The interior rose window is a copy of one in Reims, Germany. The newly renovated chapel is exquisite and opens daily from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please step inside for quiet observation. On exiting the chapel, take in the stunning view of downtown.

51. Monastery Ave. - From the top of Monastery St., make a right and descend one block along left side of Monastery Ave. to St. Paul St.

52. St. Paul St. - Make left. The orange brick building on the left is the St. Paul of the Cross Retreat Center, which is available for individual retreats by arrangement. Continue down the street to the brick walls that are part of the monastery. The walls appear to be the original ones that shielded the enclave from the outside world. Parts of the garden and its Stations of the Cross can be seen from either end of the wall. Follow St. Paul to Yard Way. Welcome to Billy Buck Hill!

53. * Billy Buck Hill - Founded by Germans, the name Billy Buck comes from goats once kept in the yard of a local store. Bordered by cliffs and rugged terrain, the area is accessible by steps and a single street. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a milk truck once flipped over while making deliveries on its hilly streets. Another time, a horse and wagon, hauling waste from neighborhood outhouses, tumbled over the hillside. The ball field on the left is at the summit of this steep hillside.

54. Yard Way - Make a left on Yard Way and walk to Shamokin St. View uptown, Oakland and Greenfield across the river. South Side Works, on the site of the former LTV site, sits to the bottom right.

55. The Yard Way Steps - Built in 1944, the stairs drop a total of 314 steps to Pius St. below. They are the longest set of stairs on this side of the Slopes. Cross Shamokin and descend 63 steps to Huron St. and Winters Playground. It is one of a series of small parklets on the Slopes that were placed within a 10 minute walk of any one home. Drop down another 52 steps to Baldauf St. Descend an additional 187 steps past Roscoe St. and Magdalene St. to Gregory St. This last set of 13 steps to Pius St. were rebuilt in time for the initial StepTrek in April 2000. In addition to providing a fascinating tour of this hillside neighborhood, StepTrek encourages the city to make repairs to existing stairways and railings for public safety.

56. Pius St. - Turn right and retrace your steps to S. 18th St. Stay on right side of street. At the stoplight, cross S. 18th Street to Mission St.

57. Mission St. Steps - Behind the bus shelter at the intersection of Mission St. and S. 18th St. is a set of steps. Descend the 102 steps to South Side Park and StepTrek Marketplace. You may also join the East Route at the bottom of the steps.

58. Black Route - To join Black/East Route, make a left at the bottom of the steps and follow St. 21st St. to Josephine St. For more information, please see map and narrative for Black/East Route.