Trail Run Project Logo

Rachel Carson Trail Challenge

Extremely Difficult


39.1 mile 62.9 kilometer point to point
90% Runnable
Extremely Difficult


Ascent: 6,014' 1,833 m
Descent: -5,831' -1,777 m
High: 1,274' 388 m
Low: 759' 231 m


Avg Grade: 6% (3°)
Max Grade: 59% (30°)


No Dogs
Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Trail shared by Kevin Ketchman

A yearly summer solstice race.

Kevin Ketchman

Features River/Creek · Wildlife


This is a tough trail passing over rooted, rugged terrain. Once on the trail, keep your head up to follow the trail's blazing.

Need to Know

At all times while running the Rachel Carson Trail, please:

-Be courteous to people living along the trail.
-Remember, you are generally on private property.
-Respect the land and its owners. If asked to leave, do so.
-Stay on the trail.
-Do not camp or build fires along the trail.
-Refrain from bringing dogs and bicycles on the trail.
-Keep off the trail with motorized vehicles.
-Carry out your own trash; help by picking up others litter.
-Recognize your limitations and your assumed risk. The Rachel Carson Trail Conservancy and the landowners want you to enjoy your run; neither will take the responsibility for personal injury or losses while using the trail.

Runner Notes

Roots and rough terrain.


The Rachel Carson Trail is a pedestrian trail north and east of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, spanning 35.7 miles (57.4 kilometers) between Harrison Hills County Park in the extreme northeast corner of Allegheny County, and North Park in the north-central area of the county. The trail is extremely varied, traversing several county parks, following power and gas lines, skirting suburban homes and farms, crossing creeks, meandering through woods and fields, and passing along the edge of steep bluffs. The terrain along the route ranges from paved roads to some areas that are quite primitive and rugged.

Spurs lead into the mansion area at Hartwood Acres County Park in Indiana Township and the Rachel Carson Homestead in Springdale. Continuing urban development along the route of the trail brings disruption and requires rerouting from time to time. There are no camps or shelters along the way, meaning the trail is intended for day-use only. The trail is relatively primitive and steep in places. Few bridges have been built, so many streams have to be crossed as-is.

History & Background

In 1950, the Baker Trail - a foot trail extending from the Highland Park Bridge in Pittsburgh to Cook Forest State Park (100 miles north) - was dedicated by the Pittsburgh Council of the American Youth Hostels. After several years, the 25 miles within Allegheny County were abandoned largely due to development. During the years 1972 to 1975, dedicated hikers scouted and rebuilt much of the former trail following the bluffs of the Allegheny River from Harrison Hills County Park to Springdale and then turned west past Hartwood Acres and on to North Park.

Because the trail passes close by the birthplace in Springdale of Rachel Carson, one of the early ecologists, the trail was dedicated in her name. The Rachel Carson Trail was completed in February 1975.

Run this trail?

We need help with the following missing trail information:

Flora & Fauna

Is something wrong? Let us know. Have photos to share? Help fellow runners know what's here.


Rate This Run

Rate Quality

   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Run

Check In



Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 1 vote


in North Park


  4.0 from 1 vote
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
Run Rankings


in North Park


in Pennsylvania


16 Views Last Month
5,673 Since Apr 1, 2015
Extremely Difficult



Looking ahead, you can see the next mile of RCT, down the utility corridor, nearing Rt 28, and then heading up Ridge Road, and back into trails at the top of the hill.
Feb 1, 2016 near Tarentum, PA
Overlooking the Allegheny River and New Kensington (C.L. Schmitt Bridge pictured) at mile 18 in Agan park.
Feb 1, 2016 near New Ken…, PA
The trail along the ridge high above the Allegheny River.
Feb 1, 2016 near Freeport, PA
Home of the trails namesake, Rachel Carson, conservationist and author.
Feb 7, 2016 near Springdale, PA
Rachel Carson Trail as you get off the Red Blaze
Apr 1, 2015 near Gibsonia, PA
Rachel Carson trail marking.
Feb 9, 2016 near Arnold, PA


Trail Run Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Running