Pittsburgh Mountain Biking

Pittsburgh Mountain Biking, Roaring Run Watershed

This purpose-built trail system offers maximum fun per mile. 

Don’t underestimate Roaring Run because of the size of its trail network. The 10 miles of trails here might seem hardly worth the drive, but the technical nature of the terrain will leave even expert riders spent—and very satisfied. You’ll find the trail system 45 minutes outside of Pittsburgh, near Apollo on the banks of the Kiskiminetas River. 

The main loop starts with a rocky, rooty climb, then traverses over rock gardens, ladder bridges, and plenty of off-camber weirdness. Riding this entire loop without a dab is a significant accomplishment for riders of any experience level. You can find flow here, but expect to earn it with equal application of fitness and skill. 

The trails wind around and through abandoned mining equipment and industrial relics (a totally legitimate excuse to take a break and explore). The terrain bears scars from years of mining, and some areas resemble Mars more than Pennsylvania woodlands. There’s natural scenery, too, but the trails require enough attention to ride that you won’t do a lot of sight-seeing while moving. 

Watch out for wet areas, but these trails are well-built and maintained and can be ridden soon after it rains. Locals have plans to continue developing the zone and adding more beginner-friendly trails, but make no mistake: All but the most enthusiastic beginners should stick with rides that are less demanding—and work their way up to Roaring Run. 

The 652-acre recreation area is owned by the non-profit Roaring Run Watershed Association. Founded in 1982, the association maintains the rail trail along the river and suspension bridge leading to the Rock Furnace swimming area. The Roaring Run Rock Riders maintain the mountain bike trails, which are in need of constant work to beat back invasive species and clear deadfall. 

Recommended Ride

Park in the lot, ride down the rail trail for about a mile and a half until the bridge at the intersection with the Rock Furnace Trail. Continue over the bridge and hang a left to enter the main loop. Feeling cheeky? When you get back to the bridge, turn around and ride the loop counter-clockwise. 

Getting There

There are plenty of ways to get to Apollo, but all of them are slightly roundabout. Canal Road is the only way in or out of the parking area (use caution; it’s narrow). The parking area has restrooms and a few picnic tables for after-ride cooldowns.

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Where to Eat/Drink

Post-ride, head a few miles north to Vandergrift, where you’ll find Allusion Brewing (http://allusionbrewingcompany.com/). This neighborhood pub offers a wide range of house brews and a tidy menu of small bites and sandwiches. On hot days, try the sour beer if one is on tap.