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ON BIKE AND ON WATER, SOAKING UP THE VIEWS IN PITTSBURGH

PITTSBURGH -- The Steel City has rediscovered its waterfront.

You can enjoy the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela rivers in Pittsburgh on water, on foot and on bicycles.

You can paddle the rivers in a kayak near the Golden Triangle where the three meet.

Or, if you're so inclined, you can enjoy a dinner cruise with live music and dancing, or a more sedate trip in a duck, an amphibious vehicle.

You can pedal along the rivers to the south on the Great Allegheny Passage all the way to Cumberland, Md., and even to Washington, D.C. Cumberland is a jaunt of 152 miles from Pittsburgh, and Washington's a little farther: another 184 and one-half miles along the C&O Canal Towpath.

It's no secret that the land and water trails on Pittsburgh's waterfront are hot. The trails in and around downtown Pittsburgh are part of what's called the Three Rivers Heritage Trail and remain a work in progress. Parts of the trail are paved, and they draw in-line skaters, as well as walkers and bicyclists. Other sections are dirt and crushed stone -- with a more rustic feel even in the city.

have been completed by the city of Pittsburgh and the grass-roots group Friends of the Riverfront.

By cobbling together the trail sections that are open, you can create an enjoyable and scenic afternoon ride. That will entail bridge hopping or pedaling over and under Pittsburgh's bridges, but that's part of the fun and the appeal.

You will see barge traffic and recreational boating on the rivers. There will be plenty of evidence of Pittsburgh's steel-making days. The trails are urban, sunny and flat. You can see and hear the not-so-distant traffic. The trails are popular and may be busy.

Three long sections of trail that are open are:

* A 3.4-mile section, commonly known as the North Shore Trail. It runs along the North Shore of the Allegheny River and is the most popular section.

The trail provides stunning vistas of downtown Pittsburgh from the city's North Shore Park. It passes the city's two stadiums.

The northern terminus is Washington's Landing on Herr's Island in the Allegheny River. That's where George W. crossed the river in 1753. The island was reclaimed in the 1990s for houses, offices, a marina, a park and river trails. The section's southern terminus is near the Carnegie Science Center.

You can connect to a short section of the Millvale Trail and an undeveloped old rail line farther north on the Allegheny River, and to the Chateau Trail along the Ohio River to the northwest.

Using the three trails, you can cover seven miles on the North Shore.

* The 3-mile Eliza Furnace Trail that runs along the north shore of the Monongahela River.

The trail runs from the suburb of Greenfield to Grant Street near the Smithfield Bridge, closer to downtown and the Golden Triangle.

It connects to the 1-mile Panther Hollow Trail that will take you into pretty Schenley Park in the neighboring Oakland neighborhood.

* The three segments of the South Side Trail that runs along the south shore of the Monongahela River.

Its northern terminus is near the Fort Pitt Bridge, and its southern terminus is in West Homestead. The three segments together cover almost six miles.

In the future, you will be able to connect with the yet-to-be-completed Steel Valley Trail, which when done will continue south to McKeesport.

You can jump from the South Side Trail across the Monongahela on the Hot Metal Bridge to pick up the Eliza Furnace Trail on the north shore.

There is also a neat bicycle-rental shop on the Eliza Furnace Trail near downtown Pittsburgh: the Golden Triangle Bike Rental Shop. It's hard to find; it's near the First Avenue parking garage.

From the bike shop, here's one possible ride: You can cross the Monongahela on the sidewalk on the Smithfield Street Bridge. You can cruise the south side past bustling Station Square, which has restaurants and pubs, then hop back over the river on the Fort Pitt Bridge. That will take you to Point State Park and the Fort Pitt Museum.

You can then pedal north and cross the Allegheny on the Fort Duquesne Walkway. That will take you to the North Shore Trail. Turn right and head north to Washington's Landing.

On the way back, you can cross the Allegheny River on the 16th Street Bridge and cruise the short Strip District Trail on the south side of the river. It runs about one mile on the river's south shore. So, too, does the Lawrenceville trail segment.

Some interpretive signs have been installed along the trails, and more are to be added.

Friends of the Riverfront is also working to develop a network of 70 to 100 miles of river trails in Pittsburgh. That would include launches, overnight camps and shore access.

Venture Outdoors offers kayak rentals and lessons on the Allegheny River through Kayak Pittsburgh. The concession is under the Sixth Street Bridge on the north shore. Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. from May 1 through Oct. 31.

For more information, contact Venture Outdoors at 304 Forbes Ave., Second Floor, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15222; (412) 255-0564; www.wpfi.org.

You really can pedal to Cumberland, Md., if you're inclined.

Most of the trail is complete, although work continues near Homestead, Pa., and near the Pennsylvania-Maryland line. You can hike or pedal a 100-mile continuous section from McKeesport south to Meyersdale, Pa., near the Maryland line.

For more information on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, contact Friends of the Riverfront at 33 Terminal Way, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15219; (412) 488-0212; www.friendsoftheriverfront.org.

For more information on the Great Allegheny Passage, contact the Allegheny Trail Alliance at 419 College Ave., Greensburg, Pa. 15602, (888) 282-2453 (ATA-BIKE) or www.atatrail.org.

You can also arrange a guided walking tour of downtown Pittsburgh through Pittsburgh Walking with Donald Gibbon at www.pittsburghwalking.com or (412) 362-8451. The rate is $50 per hour.