Unique Streets: 34
Miles Walked: 5.2
Street Names (italicized streets have been walked on another day): Woods Run Avenue, Central Avenue, Minott Street, Palen Way, Sorento Street, Westborn Street, Smithton Avenue, Inglis Street, Elreno Street, Grand Avenue, Henley Street, Bollman Avenue, Rothpletz Street, Mitchell Street, Hall Street, Shelby Street, Wardwell Street, Whitla Street, Langtry Street, Dyer Street, Birkhoff Street, Brighton Woods Road, Benton Avenue, San Pedro Street, San Pedro Place, Drexel Road, Cliffview Road, Kleber Street, Pennock Road, Brandon Road, Shoreham Street, Perrott Avenue, Jayme Way, Brighton Road, Richbarn Road, Davis Avenue, Harbison Avenue, Laird Street, Rodney Street
My walk today in Woods Run/Brighton Heights was a relatively short one for multiple reasons. I had appointments in the early afternoon and as I started walking, the sky was giving out threats like it just ran out of bubblegum. I parked near the Woods Run Branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in the free public parking lot. A free parking lot in the city is rare.
Woods Run is a low-lying neighborhood that sits in the valley between Brighton Heights and Marshall-Shadeland with Riverview Park on its eastern border. It’s not an official Pittsburgh neighborhood (technically it’s Marshall-Shadeland) but since it’s separated by the topography, it’s easily definable as its own entity. Its low elevation also makes it a neighborhood that is easily missed by many commuters traveling on Route 65 many feet above. Drivers wishing to get to the northside and avoid the traffic backup near the McKees Rocks bridge may travel Brighton Road right through the neighborhood.
The long streets of Woods Run make apparent the rural history of this area. One intersection houses the stables for the COP Police horses.
Sadly, I didn’t see any horses. Probably a good thing.
It is known that horses can bite and kick. Where is the warning sign for whatever this thing is?
The theme for this walk seemed to be All Creatures Fake and Real. On a nearby street I saw a veritable menagerie. A Tortie cat was sitting in the middle of the street no fewer than 15 feet from a turkey.
I walked closer and expected both creatures to run away. They persisted in their chill time. Then I noticed there were about a dozen cats. They were sharing meal time with the turkey. Snow White’s got to be around here somewhere.
The turkey let me get inconceivably close to him and the cat let me scratch his chin. Maybe Snow White is me? I asked the cat if Turkey Tom was his friend. He didn’t answer but a man who lived nearby did. He told me that there is a flock of turkeys that come down from the woods along with a herd of deer who should be arriving shortly. Do deer wear watches?
After visiting the unofficial petting zoo, I entered the woods of Riverview Park. Google Maps told me that Hall Street continued as a pedestrian path through the forest. They lied.
I saw no path but did see the deer who would now be late for their mid-morning meal (second breakfast?)
Luckily there was no poison ivy but there was something possibly even more disturbing than a blistery rash.
A little freaked out, I exited the woods. Little did I know that soon I would have a real reason to be frightened in the forest.
I walked further down Woods Run Avenue towards Birkoff Street. I didn’t realize that I’d already walked on another section of this small street back in February. My subsequent pain would be for nothing. The map showed that Birkoff was short but abutted against Brighton Heights Park. I was certain that I could take it into the park and up into Brighton Heights. Looking at the Hopkins Map from 1910, you can see that the road continued up through where the park is now. There was also a brewery there. Now, there is just forest.
Birkoff did still continue (for a while) through the double chain link fence gate that was propped open just enough for a person to pass through.
As soon as I entered, I was transported to another world.
Deer, bunnies, squirrels, chipmunks, birds, and groundhogs all ran across my path as I went along.
The street started to surrender to the wilderness but I kept going. I got to a point where the road ended and the prairie began. Up the tall grass-covered hill, I could see more chain link fence marking the edge of the baseball fields in the park. My way out of the woods was so close yet so far. Standing between me and my exit was a field not made up solely of tall grass, but also this.
Of course I didn’t identify it as such BEFORE marching headstrong into a clump of it. I was wearing thick compression pants but the tiny needles still got through and released their biological warfare on my legs. I was following a narrow deer path and wondered if deer are impervious to the stinging sensation. They probably eat it and then make nettle tea to enjoy over stories of stupid humans trying to follow them. Funny, the things you think about when you are in the woods alone trying not to lose your shit. Speaking of shit, I stepped in a large pile and my screams echoed in the valley. I made slow work of navigating the hill, the ground bees, the nettle, and a startled groundhog that made me scream again, louder and longer.
After a stressful climb, I finally made it to the top and into the thankfully short grass of a baseball outfield.
I also found an oasis in a port-a-potty.
As if my previous encounters weren’t traumatic enough, the bruised sky was telling me to hurry it along.
I walked by a hopping dog in a yard marked with a sign that said “Dog will Bite.” The animals like to eat people out here, don’t they?
The second part of my walk was rather uneventful compared to the first. I checked off some more streets and even got to see the site of the old Davis Avenue bridge.
Since 2001, the bridge was only open to pedestrian traffic going from Riverview Park to Brighton Heights and back. In 2009, an inspection showed that the bridge was not even safe for pedestrians anymore and it came down. Now people need to drive to the park or take a really long walk to get there.
I took a not so long walk to get back to my car where I realized I missed Rigel Street. That adventure will have to wait until another day.