StepTrek taking to the steps for its 16th annual hike


The Pittsburgh StepTrek, now in its 16th year, takes place on Saturday, Oct. 1, beginning at 11a.m. in South Side Park, Josephine and 21st streets, on South Side.

The long-lasting event has the backing of individuals with a curiosity of what lies at the top, or bottom, of the many public stairs in the neighborhood.

“Trekkers,” some of whom have been walking the steps since the first year, have kept the focus on maintaining steps in the neighborhood. With the South Side Slopes having the greatest concentration of public stairs of any neighborhood in the city, step maintenance is crucial.

StepTrek participants and sponsors have assisted the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA), an all-volunteer organization, with its mission of maintaining and improving this unique neighborhood.

Routes will Trekkers a tour of the hillsides and spectacular views distinguishing Pittsburgh. The family-friendly event combines photography, historic narrative and a sense of a neighborhood dependent upon steps. Each pre-registered trekker receives a map and a course narrative for the self-guided tour.

StepTrek is what the trekker makes it. Participants may choose to use this noncompetitive event as a test of fitness or a leisurely stroll.

Benefits of a stirring walk through the Slopes have earned this event the heart-healthy rating of the American Heart Association. Special pricing makes the walk an attractive way to experience the city on an autumn afternoon.

In addition to the two courses that cover the equivalent distance of climbing Mt. Washington, the StepTrek:

• Leads to breathtaking vistas with unobstructed views from Oakland’s Schenley Park to downtown’s skyscrapers and the bridges across the Ohio.

• Offers signage on each of the two courses to guide trekkers through the Slopes. There are water and rest stops along the way, many flat to gently sloping areas, and fruit and refreshments in the staging area.

• Explores tree-shrouded paths and secluded passageways. The history of the neighborhood, the exquisite vistas of the city, and the feeling of accomplishment upon reaching the highest reaches of the neighborhood make this a trek like no other in the city.

• Provides a number of realtor open houses throughout this hillside community. Trekkers may step inside to see what life and amenities are like where many homes come with a view.

Walkers will enjoy all of these features as they tour, at their own pace, a few thousand steps and the intertwining streets and sidewalks that connect them. The courses have changed over the years to offer a different perspective of the South Side Slopes.

Trekkers should find the routes pedestrian friendly, especially as they explore the middle areas of the Slopes neighborhood.

The South Side Slopes may possibly have the most steps of any neighborhood in the United States. After all, it is home to nearly 10 percent of the 712 sets of steps within Pittsburgh, which has the most steps of any city in the country.

The city with the next greatest amount of steps is the Ohio River town of Cincinnati, followed by San Francisco. The steps of the combined cities, however, do not equal those in Pittsburgh.

Altogether, some 66 out of the city’s 88 neighborhoods have steps. These hundreds of public stairways give tribute to the many hillside neighborhoods.

Volunteers positioned along the route will provide assistance. Regardless of the pace, the experience will be fun and fitness oriented.

The Trek itself is self-guided. The course narrative points out the landmarks and gives a history of the stairs and buildings, counts the steps and also provides instruction as to the route. Arrows along the course provide direction as well.

A tent in the staging area shows photos of historic South Side that have been in the collection of the Heinz History Center, Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation and Carnegie Library. When finished, trekkers will be treated to a festive band and free fruit, snacks and beverages.

Proceeds from the StepTrek benefit the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA), an all-volunteer organization committed to improving this unique neighborhood and providing a unified voice for slopes residents. Primary areas of focus are public safety, neighborhood development and beautification.

Advance registration for the 2016 StepTrek is $13 at This year’s t-shirt may also be purchased at the site for $15 each.


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