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Walkatop urban hike on Mount


Last updated 9/5/2016 at 6:14pm

Walkatop, an urban hiking adventure, is back for a second year with an even tougher hiking challenge through Emerald View Park in Mount Washington benefitting the Thomas Brown Alton Foundation.

Whatever fitness level, Walkatop challenges hikers to explore the 257-acre park on Sept. 11 from 8 a.m. to noon. To meet the requests of last year’s hikers, the self-guided tour expands in 2016 with a new 14-mile Great Trail in addition to the five easier routes that broadened the horizons of nearly 300 hikers last year.

“For 2016, Walkatop has added a loop to extend our longest hike from nine miles to 14 to accommodate those hikers looking for a more challenging outing,” says Tom Brown, event organizer.

The Great Trail exits Emerald View Park at Grandview Park to continue along Arlington Avenue with unexpected views of the Bluff and South Side Flats. The trail then follows the remains of the former Knoxville Incline railway to South Side neighborhoods, back up to Grandview Park, through the Shiloh Street business district and back to the registration area.

Created in 2005, the scenic Emerald View Park wraps around Mount Washington from Grandview Park near Arlington to Skookum Field in Duquesne Heights and back around to Mount Washington Park near Grace Street.

From Grandview Avenue’s sweeping views of Downtown Pittsburgh to the West End Bridge’s gateway to the Ohio River, the juxtaposition of urban and wilderness will surprise even lifelong Pittsburghers.

“The wildlife you’d expect to meet in the deep woods are instead sharing jaw-dropping views of the city with you,” Mr. Brown says.

Some hikes offer surprising views of the Banksville valley from the south portal of the Fort Pitt Tunnels; at the hike’s highest point, Grandview Park boasts stunning panoramic views of all three river valleys.

The Walkatop event is a fundraiser benefiting The Thomas Brown Alton Foundation, which is dedicated to suicide prevention by helping those in need toward improved mental health. Grants from the foundation support staff training at UPMC Mercy in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), an internationally recognized program. Resources from The Thomas Brown Alton Foundation have provided ASIST training for 66 employees already.

UPMC Mercy is the event’s presenting sponsor.

“The patients and staff at UPMC Mercy Hospital’s Behavioral Health Units have benefited tremendously from the giving spirit of the Thomas Alton Fund making a significant impact in terms of education, art and culinary efforts,” says Patty Neumeyer, director of Clinical and Support Services at UPMC Mercy’s Department of Psychiatry. “Through the training, they are taught to use a consistent suicide intervention model to integrate intervention principles into everyday practice by identifying individuals with thoughts of suicide, seeking a shared understanding of reasons for dying and living, and developing a safe plan based upon a review of risk. It is a non-invasive medium to provide care, comfort, and normalcy.”

Admission on Sept. 11 is $25 at check-in. Children age 10 and under are free. Check-in site is at the parking lot on Grandview Avenue across from the Duquesne Incline.

Advance tickets are available online through


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