Hiking Project Logo

blueBlack Rachel Carson Trail

  4.7 ( 7 ) Favorite


39.1 mile 62.9 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 5,612' 1,710 m
Descent: -5,427' -1,654 m
High: 1,267' 386 m
Low: 762' 232 m


Avg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 57% (30°)


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

Trail shared by Kevin Ketchman

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

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. 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.


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.


Rate This Featured Hike

Rate Quality

   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Hike

Check In


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
Aug 5, 2017
Craig Thomas
Jun 24, 2017
Brian Rishel
Rachel Carson Trail Challenge! First timer. Signed up the night before. 39.1mi — 14h 00m
May 8, 2017
John Epton
Apr 23, 2017
Emily Spitzer
Started at Bull Creek Rd./Ridge Rd. 7.6mi

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 7 votes


in North Park


  4.7 from 7 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star


in North Park


in Pennsylvania


351 Views Last Month
10,229 Since Jan 8, 2016
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult


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

Shop REI Hiking