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An exploration of what it is to be a trail, RCT travels through parks, farmland, and housing plans.

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1,267' 386 m


762' 232 m


5,612' 1,710 m


5,427' 1,654 m



Avg Grade (3°)


Max Grade (30°)

Dogs No Dogs

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. Additionally, the trail passes through several private properties and "secret' parks (nature reserves), which gives runners perspective on urban trails, meaning you'll run through dense forest, over open expanses, down utility corridors, and between housing developments on route from North Park to Freeport. The terrain ranges from paved roads to severely sloped singletrack.

You'll have opportunities to jump on side trails that lead to Hartwood Acres Park, Rachel Carson Homestead in Springdale, and a number of eateries for a quick bite before, after, or during the run (e.g. Tuscan Inn near North Park).

Need to Know

Check the Rachel Carson Trails conservancy website ( for updates about the trail, as it is often rerouted due to construction along certain stretches.

Runner Notes

Roots and rough terrain throughout.


Starting in North Park, the trailhead can be found at the spillway, towards the rear of the parking lot. A large sign signifies the start of the trail, blazed in yellow swatches. The very first thing you'll do is cross over a stream before looping back around to the front of the parking lot. It's odd, but it certainly lets you know you have officially started (wet feet).

You'll head up the hill to the Pie Traynor field and the southern section of North Park on your way out of the park. You'll then start down a long steady doubletrack section of trail before jumping into a ravine along a section of singletrack that is tough to traverse, and has another 4 stream crossings, which you'll not be able to avoid getting your feet wet (hooray).

From this point forward, you'll need to pay close attention for the yellow blazes. The RCT conservancy has done a great job of blazing the trail, and placing them in a manner that you'll see the next blaze before passing the current one you are approaching.

One of the many nature reserves (i.e. 'secret' parks) you'll pass is at mile 3.5. It's called the Crouse Run Nature Reserve, and it is a wonderful place to slow down and take in some solitude and wildflowers in the spring. You can also grab a bite to eat at the restaurant attached to nature reserve.

History & Background

Between 1972 and 1975 (completed in February 1975), this section of the old Baker Trail was rebuilt. Passing through the birthplace of Rachel Carson (noted ecologist) the trail was dedicated in her name.


Shared By:

Kevin Ketchman

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 11 votes


in North Park


  4.7 from 11 votes
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37 Views Last Month
15,395 Since Jan 8, 2016



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


Current Trail Conditions

Add Your Check-In


Aug 17, 2022
Andrew Raether
This trail is, in a word, sporadic. From service road, to singletrack, to serious hill climbs, to segments that are on streets; keeps you guessing! 4mi — 0h 51m
Jun 20, 2020
Edyta Branch
Harmar to Emmerling 22.2mi — 6h 14m
May 9, 2020
Robert Ricci
Fun. Muddy, but fun. 3.9mi
Dec 28, 2019
Scott Spencer
Muddy but fun. Looks like someone is building a switchback onto the Murray Hill climb. 10mi — 3h 10m
Oct 5, 2019
Scott Spencer
First time going the whole way. Great trail but as stated, some busy roads to run on be careful. 39.1mi — 12h 28m
Jul 30, 2019
John Smith
Test 30mi
Jun 8, 2019
Joe K
Jan 30, 2016
Kevin Ketchman
Trail conditions are less than ideal, very sloppy as ice thaws leaving a 2" layer of mud. 18mi — 4h 20m