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Trip Preparations

Preparation Overview
Below are the rules of the trail and some basic suggestions on preparation for hiking and biking. There are many books, periodicals and websites that detail these topics. We strongly suggest that you do your own research before hitting the trail.


 • Outdoor Safety Information
 • Rules and Courtesy
 • Emergency Number
 • Physical Conditioning
 • Equipment

Outdoor Safety Information

This is a recreational trail with natural hazards - wildlife, weather, and temporary trail conditions that should be approached with caution. It is important that you pay attention as you ride. The most effective way to prevent mishaps is to adequately prepare for the trip. Knowledge of the area, weather, terrain, limitations of your body, plus a little common sense can help to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

You should know how to fix a flat tire (or travel with someone who does) and recognize poison ivy. You shouldn't have to worry about automobile traffic except between the trail and your lodging. It is a good idea to ride with others. The last few blocks to Point State Park in Pittsburgh will require navigating with traffic.


This link to the USDA Forest Service provides good outdoor safety information.

Click here for the National Weather Service.

Trail Rules
  1. No motorized vehicles except wheelchairs.
  2. Bicyclists and horse riders should wear helmets. Pennsylvania State Law mandates that children under 12 years old wear safety-approved helmets.
  3. Keep right, except to pass.
  4. Warn before passing sound your bell or horn and announce audibly "Passing on your left."
  5. Bicyclists yield to walkers/hikers.
  6. Equestrians are allowed on specified sections of the trail. Please keep horses off the improved hiker/biker surface. Stay on the grass.
  7. Trail open daily, dawn to dusk. No overnight use, excepted in authorized areas. Reservations are required for groups of 10 or more.
  8. Stay on trail.
  9. No fires.
  10. Keep pets on a short leash, under control, and pet waste off the trail.
  11. Please respect private property and stay on the trail.
  12. Dumping and littering are prohibited. If you see litter, please pick it up.
  13. Permits are required for any special group event of twenty-five or more.
Emergency Phone Numbers and Preparations
The standard emergency number in all areas is 911. Cellular phone coverage is not available all along the trail system, but it is getting better. If you have a cellular phone, carry it in case of an emergency in an area that does have service. As with all trips in the outdoors, it's a good idea to let someone know of your plans.
Physical Conditioning
The trail is nearly level and universally accessible; thus, people of most ages and physical conditions can use it. Consider your own physical condition when deciding on the length of your trip. Walkers usually can do from two to three miles an hour. Hikers with packs may average less. Bicyclists average seven to ten miles. Most people are able to walk or ride for multiple day and "Thru Treks." When planning a long bicycle trip, it's a good idea to do some riding in advance. In particular, it's a good idea to ride two or three days in a row a few times. Some of your preparation rides should be as long as the daily distances you plan for the trip.

Equipment
Walkers
For short walks, the basic equipment is comfortable walking shoes and comfortable clothing.

Bicyclists
Most bicycles will be fine on the trail which is for the most part surfaced with fine crushed limestone. Experienced riders tend to prefer a hybrid (cross between road and mountain bikes) as thin tires can sink into the trail surface and make the going slow. People with mountain bikes tend to prefer hybrid tires or conservative mountain bike tires with just a little tread in the center and lugs on the edges to handle mud. Barring the extreme tire widths, any bike will work just fine. Be sure the bicycle, particularly the saddle, is comfortable.

If you do your own maintenance, check the bike over before leaving for long trips. If you don't do your own, take the bike to your friendly local bike shop for a safety check and tune-up.

Suggested Basic Bicycle Equipment
Helmet
Comfortable saddle
Bike lock
Spare tube, patch kit
Headlight
Pump
Bell or whistle


Basic Safety Equipment
First aid kit
Sunscreen
Matches
Emergency blanket
Water
Food

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