Rachel Carson Trail

HARD 27 reviews
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Rachel Carson Trail is a 14.9 mile point-to-point trail located near Springdale, Pennsylvania that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
14.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
3221 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Point to Point

dog friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

views

wild flowers

muddy

The Rachel Carson Trail is 34 miles of yellow-blazed trail from North Park to Harrison Hills Park. It is a rugged undertaking, cutting through suburban areas utilizing whatever space is available. Power line cuts are popular throughways which means that the trail will often climb straight up or down steep hills. The motto of the trailblazers seems to be "Switchbacks are for wimps". It's a primitive trail with no camp sites or trailside amenities. The trail from Springdale starts by climbing a steep powerline cut and thankfully stays on the hilltop for a while. After coming down off the hill, it's up Riddle Run Road before picking up another power line. The most brutal hill is down to Murry Hill Road and the Sheetz. A 50 degree slope straight down (or up if your traveling south). Someone has tied a steel cable to a tree to help your climb. The annual Rachel Carson Challenge covers the entire 34 miles in one day. Most don't complete the event.

hiking
2 days ago

The Rachael Carson Trail Challenge is an organized event held on the first Saturday closest to June 21st (first day Summer). It alternates start/ finish each year from Harrison Hills to North Park and vise versa. Rain or shine. There's a check in/ rest stop about every 7 miles with food and water. It's limited to 600 participants with a big cookout at the end.
If you've never done this and appreciate a good challenge then I highly recommend this.

1 month ago

I love it. I like all the views and it is tricky but awesome. It gets very muddy but it is so fun. I recommend you try it.

hiking
1 month ago

@Greg Michaels and whomever else needs to know: The easiest way to get to the trailhead is to either go to North Park (near Hampton, PA, western trailhead) or Harrison Hills Park (northern most part of Allegheny county, near Freeport, PA, eastern trailhead).

Going from West to East:

Going from West to East though is rather complicated. Basically you start by walking from North Park to Hampton Community Park. A few years back a large part of the trail ended up in a suburban development, despite protests from the community.

Then you walk to Hartwood Acres, following Dorseyville Road and meander along roads and power lines, and eventually end up at Emmerling Park, Rural Ridge area, Indianola, on Rt 910, north of Harmerville, which is near Springdale. You walk from Emmerling to Springdale, and Springdale through New Ken to Harrison Hills Park near Freeport, PA. It's several ups and downs, starting in the mountains of North Park and heading to the river valley near Springdale, then back along the river and eventually along the cliffs that lead to Harrison Hills above Freeport bridge.

Going in reverse you simply start at Harrison Hills and follow the yellow blazes -- though sometimes it is unmarked.

One time I did bridge a gap between Hampton and Hartwood on the Google Maps but it's very hard to find that information today (it seems to be missing). Takes some serious research or go with a group to map it out. It's too bad people didn't find the proper way to protect this trail, some of it has been paved and some of it has been built on.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

I'm not sure where to start on this? We followed our GPS and parked by the VFW. We followed a couple up what we thought was the trailhead. From there we ended up at the Rachel Carson House about a half mile after getting slightly lost. From there we asked several people how to get to the Rachel Carson Trail and no one knew. So after walking about an hour through the streets of Springdale we found our way back to our car. And then there we decided to head the opposite direction by foot, and finally found what looked like a trailhead. There were no signs, no designation.
So this was actually the trail, about an 1/8 of a mile past the VFW. The trail itself was subpar at best. We hiked 3 miles and most of it was on a 4 wheel drive/pipeline trail. There was one decent view of the river at the top about 30 minutes in, and that was the highlight! After roughly 3 miles the path led us to a major road. We walked it for nearly a quarter of a mile, with no berm, as the cars sped by. Again we thought we were lost, but after seeing hikers going both ways and the trail still marked on the highway, we realized we weren't! We decided to turn around before we were run over. This might be the worst hiking experience we've ever had and I'm surprised this trail is even listed on any site!We'd never go back!

hiking
Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Did this last year. The beauty and views were incredible. It is a bit of a workout.

hiking
Sunday, July 17, 2016

We did this on Mother's Day 2016 and my 6 and 9 year old enjoyed it! We did the land-side trail, leaving the cliff-side trail untouched as they were tired. Lots of fun!

hiking
Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Parts were pretty steep. It was ok in dry conditions but mud may be an issue. The views were cool.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Nicely maintained trail with views of the Allegheny from the western bluffs. Southern sections are within a powerline right of way.

hiking
Sunday, February 28, 2016

Overall, really fun trail. It actually offers some really great views of the river and surrounding area and it's only 30 minutes from Pittsburgh. My only complaint was all the mud, but that's hardly the park's fault. Trials were otherwise well maintained.

hiking
Saturday, November 28, 2015

This trail was much harder than I was expecting. I think once I sleep tonight I won't get up until noon. The trail is mostly hardwoods. Popular with dogs.

hiking
Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Challenging first hike of the season. Includes two steep climbs.

hiking
Sunday, June 29, 2014

1st half of trail (emerling end) is in open space with not much to see. In summer, sun can be hot! Second half is wooded and more pleasant. Steep in spots, but good hike for the area

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Monday, June 12, 2017

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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Monday, April 10, 2017

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Saturday, November 05, 2016

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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sunday, May 01, 2016

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Monday, March 14, 2016

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015