Above: One of the many great views that gives Fineview its name

by Megan Trimble

Weaving in and out of residential streets, up and down wooded hills, along cobblestone streets and near area businesses, Fineview’s stairs, numbering more than 1,600, provide expansive views of the cityscape.

Robyn Doyle and her husband bought their home in Fineview because the neighborhood offers some of the best views of the city. Now, she is working to share the experience with others through the restoration of more than 500 of the neighborhood’s steps with a grant from the Sprout Fund.

The Fineview Citizen’s Council is renovating its steps and creating marked courses along a fitness trail designated for walking, hiking and running. The trails allow community members to participate in “urban hiking” along the hillside steps and enjoy the scenic views the trails have to offer.

“Well, let’s just say we have certainly earned our name ‘Fine View,’” Doyle, the Fitness Trail project manager for the FCC, said. “I find it hard to articulate just how spectacular the views are, and how unique each view is as you follow along the trail.”

The more than 500 steps in the initial phase of the project incorporate flat and elevated areas where community members can challenge themselves on runs or hike and enjoy the scenery.

The steps connect to areas such as East Allegheny and the Central Northside. Primarily fitness enthusiasts in the immediate neighborhood, Finview residents who work at the Allegheny General Hospital and other community members who need the steps to connect to the lower Northside currently use them, Doyle said.

For Doyle, the steps play a large role in connecting Northsiders to community opportunities.

“For those of us who live in Fineview the steps are an easy connection to all that the central North side has to offer including some fabulous eating establishments, museums, parks, and of course easy access to our beloved sports games,” she said.  “Now with the Urban Hike concept we are beginning to realize the health benefits we have at our fingertips.”

A $10,000 Sprout Fund grant will help fund the inventory of the steps, which includes producing a map, signage, trail markers and step repairs and improvements.

Walt Spak cultivated the original fitness trail concept in 2007, but Melissa Gallagher and other FCC Board members took the idea to Sprout in 2012.

Doyle, who took over the project manager position in January, said the changes made so far have been completed behind the scenes. Changes include an inventory of all of Fineview’s steps, a ranking of those steps based on their physical needs and safety and the creation of a data system that will help the community track step needs as the project grows.

“With that information we have devised a rigorous trail that begins in the central north side and extends two miles through Fineview utilizing the safest and most well kept sets of stairs,” Doyle said.

The changes are expected to increase the usage of the steps.

The project’s second phase will target the more adventurous and, according to Doyle, could potentially extend the trail to four miles and include a bike runnel.

The FCC is currently in the process of funding signage to install by the end of August, and community members have helped to clean up the trail.

Doyle said the FCC will offer an interactive map, allowing participants access to “step by step” directions guiding them through the trail similar to a GPS system.

“Our anticipated completion date is sometime in August, but stay tuned, there are some pretty motivated people involved that would like to see this project completed earlier in the summer,” she said.