Preparing for a Pittsburgh Move
Hey guys, we're doing some long range planning that has us moving from Denver to Pittsburgh sometime mid-2015. I would love to get feedback on some things we're trying to figure out as I'm sure many of you have similar situations and know the area far better than we do.
I'll basically be opening a Pittsburgh office for my company, but my job will have me in the air a fair amount. So for the foreseeable future, I would be working from home and flying to our other offices which means I would want easy access to the airport for a weekly trip. Based on research of the bridge/tunnel situation, that seems to rule out a good amount of the city. My wife is more inclined to a decent yard than what we've seen in the city proper, so we'll probably be looking at the burbs.
We'll have a 5 year old and 18 month old at that time so schools are important. Fortunately, there seem to be some great schools in the area, but it's a big priority for us.
So after those two things, I would also love to be close to some good biking trails. We have great rides here in Denver, but I have to drive at least 20-30 minutes to get there. A dream house would let me ride out the door to some nearby trails.
So I've been doing research and we've looked a lot around Mt. Lebanon. The older homes are our style and I like the idea of a town center. I'm sure we could live in a newer area if it had some character. But I'm wondering if we're too narrowly focused? Watching lots of YouTube videos, I'm really digging what I see at North Park (Dr. J), Brady's Run, and Iron Gate, so I'll definitely want to spend time there. South Park looked fun but a bit less rowdy from what I could tell. But if I had it in my backyard, I'm sure I'd ride it a bunch.
So that's basically it - any help or direction you could share would be appreciated! I'm demo'ing new bikes so I can leave my old rig here for my trips back and bring the new bike with me (I'll be the guy on the turquoise Yeti - just not sure which model yet) to PA. Just curious, what type of setup are you guys doing if you've got one bike in the quiver? I'm leaning towards a 27.5 wheel sized Yeti 575 1x11. I know that the 29ers are probably faster, but I think the 575 will be more fun and playful for the trail types I like.
I live in Kennedy twp and am a 20 to 40 minute ride from just about everything local worth riding. I have lived and grew up in the South Hills and now hate it. They are building like crazy out here and it looks like homes with small front/back yards in the 250 to 350 range. Lowest taxes in the county, and close to downtown and the airport. If you want more property and a neighborhood that doesn't border a low income area, try Robinson, Moon, or Wexford. Wexford is a bit farther from the airport but very nice and very close to North Park and Heartwood Acres...both ROCK! I have drank the rigid hardtail 29er koolaid and don't see going back to full sus any time soon.
Only if I got paid to hang out in my garage and tweak on my bikes...
How interesting, I'm moving from this area to Denver (to complete school) about the same exact time you are leaving.
As far as the ideal PA rig, it's pretty much all 29er country here but it really depends on what kind of trails you ride. Some trails near Pittsburgh have smooth sections and on a dime can turn into rock gardens. I ride with a full suspension 650b Cannondale and it's just right.
For location, the good mountain biking is found east of Pittsburgh, I would suggest looking at any houses in the rural area near any William Penn Highway exits as it's a good straightshot into the center of Pittsburgh to get to your office so that you don't have long commutes with thousands of traffic signals and stop signs. You shouldn't have much trouble finding nearby trails.
Thanks guys! We'll be out there in June and plan to look at a few other towns. My wife's brother lives in Cranberry Twp. and her folks are a couple hours north, so that side of town would work too. I've also heard taxes are a lot less up north. Housing prices are less there than here, but Colorado's property taxes are almost ridiculously low compared to the rest of the nation.
I'm hoping to find a place that I can ride to so that I get more miles on the bike. I have to drive to every trailhead from my house here in Denver, and that's probably the biggest deterrent to riding more. We plan to be in our next house a long, long time, and so it seems worth it for me to be thinking long term on it. It would be cool to be able to ride to a park and get involved with trail work efforts in it.
Thanks for the feedback on the bike. I figured that 29ers were pretty prevalent out there, but I still love the playfulness of the smaller wheels - especially for the annual/semi-annual Moab/Fruita trips, so that purchase is already made. So if you see the yellow version of this bike (Yeti Cycles / Home) out somewhere next year, say hi! Somebody pointed out to me after I bought it that it's Steelers colors - I didn't think about it at the time, so it must have been subconscious.
I'll hopefully be there spring/early summer next year, and I'll probably get more active on this board and hope to ride with some of you all when I'm there. Thanks again!
I too moved from Denver (Golden) to Pittsburgh. Something you'll notice is that the neighborhoods here differ from each other more than out west. This is likely because they differ in age, were largely a single ethnicity when built, are different in structure, etc. For that reason, I'd recommend experiencing them before trying to decide which suites your lifestyle best. Some neighborhoods are really popular but have no trees, or no parks, or no businesses, or no etc.
The good news is that there are a ton of parks with awesome singletrack within the city. I live near frick park precisely for the benefits of living in a city, walking distance to a bar with 1000 different beers, and yet having singletrack right out my door.
These pictures are from one of my after work rides. Yes, they're taken within in the city limits of Pittsburgh!
I got a bit of the Frick Park experience a couple years ago. Brought my tennis racquets out on a trip and got to slide around those red clay courts while my wife went for a hike in the park. The riding there looks great. As much as I would love to be near a town center of some kind (Sewickley's main drag was idyllic), we're also going to have to balance the yard aspect. We don't need a huge yard, but we've got a four year old and two month old and the older one has gotten used to having a decent yard to hit a ball around in (it's about 2500 SF in the back yard). Some of the more urban areas, while I love them, will probably not get my wife's seal of approval. Schools will be the other big concern.
Regarding the trails in the area, the videos I've seen appear like most are pretty buff singletrack with a few areas of heavy roots/rocks thrown in - more of a surprise than a constant hundred(s) yard stretch of technical stuff. Just curious if that's a fair statement or not? Aside from the North Park free ride area, is there much movement towards building features (berms, structures, etc.) into trails there? I like it all, which is one of the nice things about the riding here as some of you know. Some trails are fast and flowy (Buffalo Creek, Centennial Cone), and others are rocky/technical (Dakota Ridge, Apex). We don't have a "bug season" though, which I'll have to get used to again being a couple decades removed from my early riding days in Michigan.
Thanks again for the feedback!
Oh, the other thing I noticed is that in the Pittsburgh area trail riding videos I saw, there were constant offshoots of trails or 5-way intersections... none of which had any signage. You guys must develop a great sense of direction and be constantly exploring. That will definitely be different than here, where the trails are usually well marked and it's pretty obvious which way to go (not too many options on a 15 switchback climb).
Yeah most trail markers around here are a paint spot on a tree that hopefully corresponds to a map somewhere.
Most of the stuff near the city is pretty much buff single track like you said. The rocky stuff is just north and south of the city. Moraine State Park, about 45 mins north of the city, is fantastic technical riding if that's your thing. To the south the Ohiopyle area has some good technical riding.
The trails around here are definitely not well marked or mapped. Slowly there are maps starting to be made and put in somewhat official or accessible places, but you'll still need to ride with locals to do a real ride.
I wouldn't call the trails here buff really. More like rooty and muddy with some rocks mixed in. New trails start out smooth but the roots get exposed within a couple years. It's rockier if you go north and get into the glacial debris stuff, or if you head south or east into the mountains. But the local trails can be fairly technical. What they're missing are long climbs and descents, or long continuous sections without intersections. But there is still plenty of climbing and milage everywhere.
Flow trail features are rare unless you go to lift access parks in the mountains. The closest is about 90 minutes away, 7 springs. However there are slower technical trail features like log piles. When trees fall over the trail around here, some people prefer to ride over rather than remove them.
Video always makes stuff smooth and flat. Here are a couple of my videos from frick park.
Ask someone to describe trails and it's hard to know what they mean unless you know their frame of reference. ;-)
My frame of reference besides tons of xc is downhilling locally and a trip to whistler each year. The trails here different than what you're probably used to. Most people ride 29er hard tails. Dropper posts are about as common as fat bikes. There are fewer large drops but people hit tight, twisty, technical single track at pretty ridiculous speed. Almost nobody runs a triple ring setup. Singlespeeds are somewhat common. Dust and sand is almost nonexistent but everyone can handle mud like a champ. Or at least those seem like fair generalizations to me.
Look me up when you're in town if you want a tour guide around Frick for a few rides. It's always fun to share the routes with new people!
Where exactly in Pittsburgh is your office going to be? I don't know if you've ever been to the city, but the traffic can be an absolute nightmare at times. Thank the combination of the rivers/bridges, very hilly terrain, endless construction (partly due to the winter and potholes), and sports fanatics (baseball, football, and hockey). I've traveled all over this country, and I still dread driving in this city.
That said, there are a lot of great biking opportunities. Besides the already mentioned mtb trails, there is also a great network of paved "trails" through the city, and a rails-to-trails system (paved, cinders, some dirt) that you can ride almost continuously from Robinson (north west of the city) all the way down to Washington DC!
Now, I live in Ohio so I'm not an expert on this subject. But, I work in PA and most of my friends live in Allegheny or Beaver County. I've also done an extensive amount of research about moving to Colorado. I would avoid buying in Allegheny county if feasible, because your taxes will be much higher. You are going to get raped either way on taxes, compared to what you are used to in Colorado. First, there is a municipal income tax that you pay to the city that you work in. I think you may also have to pay an income tax to the city you reside in. Some cities will give a credit though for the taxes that you pay to the city you work in, assuming they are not the same. This is the way it works in Ohio anyways. I know there is no such thing in Colorado, so yeah, this sucks. I believe PA includes a tax for your school district in your annual real estate taxes. They can arbitrarily change the rate from year-to-year, and Allegheny County seems to have a habit of jacking the rate way up some years. Real estate taxes anywhere in PA are just ridiculous compared to what residents in CO pay.
It's not all bad news though for you. You won't have to pay a fortune for annual vehicle registration, like you do in Colorado. The PA state income tax is a flat 3.07%, compared to Colorado's 4.63%. Sales tax is about the same as CO. The Pittsburgh airport is a nice one, and flight prices are reasonable.
Good post. Pretty good summary of local riding.
Originally Posted by dfiler
Wow... Good stuff all around. Thanks for sharing those videos dfiler and sharing your perspective. When we sat down and looked at different potential areas to relocate to, the terrain in Pittsburgh was one of those things that I considered a big plus. I just couldn't imagine moving someplace flat and boring with the stuff I like to do.
Getting a different technical challenge with the local riding is going to be fun. It reminds me of a trip to Moab a couple years ago where I met and rode with a crew from Vancouver. At one point one of them said, "How are you so comfortable going that fast down steep, busted up rocks with no traction?" I think I said, "I don't know. How are you so comfortable riding on a six inch wide wood plank?" We get good at what we ride and having a new challenge is exciting. I will most definitely hit you up for a tour!
OhioPT - my office will be the house for the foreseeable future. I'll be traveling to our other offices a lot (back to Denver weekly/bi-weekly too) but as we do some work in the area I'm sure we'll have to add staff and an office. Gut tells me that's going to want to be near-ish to downtown since that's where most of our potential clients would be. From a corporate standpoint, we try to locate near mass transit if possible, so I'm thinking somewhere along the rail would be an area I look at.
Overall, there seems to be a lot of great things happening in the area and we're excited about being in a new city and getting to know it. I still get to travel back to Denver a lot, so one of the few things that I won't find in PA (great skiing), I'll still get my fix.
If any of you get out to Denver, hit me up and we'll hit some of the trails here.
I lived in Pittsburgh for 30 years...then moved away.
I'll tell you this, if you can stay south of the city, you'll have access to South Park. Nice areas near here are Whitehall and Pleasant Hills.
If you go a bit past South Park, you'll be looking at the actual township called South Park, possibly Finnleyville where you'll be close to South Park and Boyce Mayview Park as well as a ton of other places to ride more country like Mingo Creek area (this is possibly one of my favorite memories of Pittsburgh, besides family).
Now all I know about north of the city is North Park -- it's a lot bigger than South Park, although I've only been there a few times as a child.
Awesome Post! I also live right next to Frick as well and it's an amazing trail to have right in the middle of the city. Typical ride there for me is 13 miles with 1500' of climbing and takes about 1:30. In addition to being right next to Frick, there are SO MANY other places to ride within an hour or so of here.
Originally Posted by dfiler
Within 20 minutes:
- White Oak
- Pleasant Valley
Within 30 minutes:
- North Park
- Hartwood Acres
- South Park
- Roaring Run
- Laurel Mountain
- Quebec Run
- Seven Springs
I work just around the corner from Boyce Mayview. Pretty sure you're not allowed to mountain bike there. Shame, looks like the trails could be a fun ride.
Originally Posted by deapee
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