The Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy

Who We Are

The Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy, Inc. is a nonprofit 501(c)(3), volunteer-based organization dedicated to the development, protection, and promotion of hiking, biking, and walking trails throughout western Pennsylvania.

The goals of the Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy include raising awareness of the benefits of community trails, getting more people interested in physical activities, getting more people to experience the beauty of our region and the natural world, and helping people see our region as active and vibrant. Join us in our efforts and help make a difference!

We’re All About Trails

The Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy is named in honor of Rachel Carson because one of our main trails passes near her birthplace in Springdale.

One of our goals is enabling people to experience the beauty of our region and the natural world, which Rachel Carson encouraged in her book The Sense of Wonder. She believed it was important for children to be introduced to the marvels of nature that surround us.

We are the caretaker of more than 170 miles of trails, but we own less than 2% of it. Our trails mostly cross private property, the owners of which generously allow the trail. Thus, maintaining friendly relations with landowners is a priority for us. Some of the land is owned by private individuals, but much is owned by corporations such as Duquesne Light, West Penn Power, Reliant Energy, Seneca Resources, PPG, Range Resources, and various coal companies.

As an outdoor organization dedicated to connecting people with the natural world, we endeavor to minimize our impact on it. Most of our trails are primitive paths through woodlands or along rights-of-way. Once we stop maintaining them, they readily dissolve into the background. Most of our bridges and signs are wooden, and some have been constructed without nails.

At our events, we reuse and recycle. We purchased plastic plates and silverware which we wash and reuse. The RFID tags we use to track participants are collected and reused. We purchased large reusable water containers for use at our checkpoints instead of plastic water bottles or gallon jugs, or we use a water buffalo. We recycle cans and bottles.

Our trail system is fragile and can easily be disrupted. We are committed to working with our landowners for mutual benefit in order to preserve community trails in Western Pennsylvania for everyone.


Founded in 1992 as the Harmony Trails Council, it began with a mission to promote, establish and maintain a multi-use public trail system as an alternate transportation and recreation facility serving the residents of Pittsburgh’s North Hills, focusing on developing the Harmony Trail along the railbed of the former Harmony inter-urban rail line. In 2004, the Pittsburgh chapter of Hostelling International (formerly AYH) elected to relinquish its stewardship of the Rachel Carson Trail and the Baker Trail. The Harmony Trails Council chose to adopt these trails thereby expanding its mission. At the same time, the Council voted to change its name to the Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy to better reflect its broader mission.

Get Involved

The organization meets monthly in Cranberry Township, PA and has many opportunities for volunteers willing to contribute their time. From meeting with local officials about trail development and protection to participating in a trail work crew, creating newsletter or web content, communicating with the press, or volunteering for the Rachel Carson Trail Challenge, the possibilities are as varied as the backgrounds of the people involved.


For more information, contact us via:
US mailRachel Carson Trails Conservancy, Inc.
P.O. Box 472
Wexford, PA 15090-0472
telephone(412) 475-8881

Board of Directors and Officers

NameOfficerResidenceDetailsTerm Ends
Vernon, BrianBrian VernonPresidentGibsonia 2025
Mentzer, SteveSteve MentzerVice PresidentMcCandless TownshipRCTC Events Director2027
Brethauer, CharlieCharlie BrethauerTreasurerRichland TownshipRetired DEP analyst2026
Nelson, AmyAmy Nelson Franklin Park 2026
Sauers, PaulPaul Sauers Hampton Township 2026
Ganster, KathleenKathleen Ganster Hampton Township 2026
Fockler, DavidDavid "Thatch" Fockler Garfield 2026
Eyerman, MarkMark Eyerman Hampton Township 2026
Wilson, LeviLevi Wilson Arnold 2026
Schuster, ChristopherChris Schuster Pine Township 2026
Elliott, DeborahDeborah Elliott Pine Township 2026
Kramer, AlynnAlynn Kramer Verona 2026
Scurry, EdwardEd Scurry Franklin, Venango County 2027


The Bylaws of the organization can be found here.

About Rachel Carson


Rachel Carson was a marine biologist and early ecologist, born at 613 Marion Avenue, Springdale, PA, in 1907. She graduated from the Pennsylvania College for Women, now Chatham College, and then earned a Master's degree in zoology at John Hopkins and the University of Maryland before becoming a junior aquatic biologist with the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries.

Ms. Carson was an active hiker, bird watcher, outdoors explorer and nature enthusiast. She traveled to Hawk Mountain in Pennsylvania, Plum Island in Massachusetts, the Everglades, the Maine coast, and the California Redwoods. In July 1951, the Oxford Press published her National Book Award winner, The Sea Around Us. This book was joined on the best seller list by a new edition of her earlier book, Under the Sea Wind. In 1962, Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring was published, warning Americans of the dangers of the indiscriminate use of pesticides and herbicides and other chemicals, in particular DDT.

In 1963, a committee appointed by President Kennedy supported Silent Spring and criticized the negligence of industry and government agencies. Rachel Carson died of cancer in 1964 at the age of 56.

An article about her life and work appeared in the September, 2002 issue of Smithsonian Magazine (no longer online), and Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century. In 2017, she was featured in an episode of the PBS program American Experience.