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Rachel Carson Trail

Difficult
 4.8 (8) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

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


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Map Key

39.1

Miles

62.9

KM

Point to Point

1,267' 386 m

High

762' 232 m

Low

5,612' 1,710 m

Up

5,427' 1,654 m

Down

5%

Avg Grade (3°)

57%

Max Grade (30°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features River/Creek · Wildlife

Overview

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 hikers perspective on urban trails, meaning you'll hike 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 hike (e.g. Tuscan Inn near North Park).

Need to Know

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

Description

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.

Contacts

Local Club: Rachel Carson Trail Conservancy

Jun 10, 2020: The Harmony Trail

May 28, 2020: Trail workday in North Park

May 23, 2020: Annual

Shared By:

Kevin Ketchman

Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 8 votes

#1

in North Park

#641

Overall
  4.8 from 8 votes
5 Star
88%
4 Star
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3 Star
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2 Star
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Recommended Route Rankings

#1

in North Park

#7

in Pennsylvania

#641

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Photos

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

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Update Conditions
All Clear 6 days ago See History
Add Your Check-In

Check-Ins

Apr 15, 2020
Thomas Tejchman
Nov 17, 2019
Derek Schulz
Not a cloud in the sky. 7mi — 9h 00m
May 27, 2019
Brett Kelly
Mar 17, 2018
Gang Wang
At about 2 miles, cross 3 or 4 streams. At about 3 miles, will cross a railroad and follow the railroad for about 0.3 miles. The turn left, the tra… 21.2mi
Oct 1, 2017
Amanda Murphy
Aug 31, 2017
Juliana Spofford
39.1mi
Aug 5, 2017
Craig Thomas
2mi
Jun 24, 2017
Brian Rishel
Rachel Carson Trail Challenge! First timer. Signed up the night before. 39.1mi — 14h 00m