Event Information

Rachel Carson Trail Challenge 2009


The thirteenth annual Rachel Carson Trail Challenge is on Saturday June 20, 2009, the Saturday nearest the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. The Challenge is a 34-mile long, one-day, sunrise to sunset endurance hike on nearly the entire brutal Rachel Carson Trail. Unlike a footrace, the "challenge" is not to "come in first" or "win", but to endure, to finish the hike in one day. This time, the Challenge starts in North Park ends 34 miles later in Harrison Hills County Park.

There are three events to choose from that day, all taking place on the Rachel Carson Trail:

Full Challenge
34 Miles
The traditional Challenge. It begins in North Park and ends in Harrison Hills Park. Starts at 5:30 AM, finish deadline is 8:54 PM, or 15 hours 4 minutes, whichever comes first. Limit 600 participants, minimum unaccompanied age 12.
Homestead Challenge
16 Miles
Also known as the "Half Challenge", it begins at the Springdale High School, near the Rachel Carson Homestead, and ends in Harrison Hills Park. Starts at 11:00 AM, finish deadline is 7 hours 11 minutes. If you ever thought about trying the Challenge but never thought you could go 34 miles, this may be for you. Limit 200 participants, minimum unaccompanied age 12.
Family Challenge
7 Miles
This begins at the Bull Creek Road checkpoint in Tarentum and ends in Harrison Hills Park. Starts at 2:00 PM. It's intended for families of up to 5 members, and the minimum unaccompanied age is 8. Limit 50 families. Note that this event is the same as training hike 4.

There'll be a cookout at the finish in Harrison Hills Park for everyone.

Gold Sponsors
Dollar Bank
Silver Sponsors
UPMCPennsylvania Commercial Real EstateElite Runners & Walkers
Goss, Inc.Dick's Sporting GoodsWestern Pennsylvania Conservancy


ATTENTION! The 34-mile Challenge is SOLD OUT (slots are still available for the Homestead and Family Challenges). There is no wait list; the only option now is to register on-site on June 20 starting at 5 AM. You will be required to wait on stand-by until 6:30 AM for any no-show slots to become available. The on-site registration fee is $85 cash or check only.

Click to registerAdvance registrations may only be submitted online, via active.com. Click here to register! Advance registrations will be accepted through June 17 and are non-refundable and non-transferable.

For one day only and provided we haven't reached our registration limit, we'll be accepting advance registrations via cash or check at our Annual Public Meeting on Saturday, May 9. Registration forms will be available at the meeting for you to fill out and payment must be made there.

Check In

This year you'll have the option of picking up your tag and map on Friday, June 19 between 5 PM and 8 PM at the Old Firehouse in North Park. Veteran Challengers will be on hand to answer questions and discuss strategy.

Training Hikes

There will be four 8-9 mile training hikes covering the entire trail prior to the Challenge. These allow you to learn trail blazing and navigation, as well as see firsthand the trail itself if you've never been on it before, in addition to helping you get in shape for the event. These hikes will be on 5/30 & 5/31 and 6/6 & 6/7. Click here for details.

Also this year is a series of eight "goal training" hikes every Sunday starting in mid April. These are geared toward folks who are new to the event, or who pefer an extended training regimen. Click here for details.

The training hikes are free, but we won't mind suggesting a donation of $3 per person, per hike.

Participant Information

Please review important event details and other information for participants: Full Challenge, Homestead Challenge, Family Challenge.


Camping: Both North Park and Harrison Hills Park are county parks and camping is not permitted. The closest campground is the Mountain Top Campground, about 7 miles away from Harrison Hills Park and 17 miles from North Park.

Hotel: These hotels are closest to the parks:

HotelPhoneMiles Away
Near North Park
Route 8 Lodge(724)443-59125
Comfort Inn(724)444-87005
Holiday Inn(412)366-52007
Hampton Inn(412)939-320010
Near Harrison Hills Park
Clarion Hotel(724)335-91719
Armstrong Farms B&B(724)352-285810
SpringHill Suites(724)274-106411
Maggie West B&B(724)274-890613
Holiday Inn(412)963-060015
Days Inn(412)828-540015
Super 8(412)828-890015
Holiday Inn(412)828-930015


The Challenge needs volunteers on Challenge Day! We will need people throughout the day, from morning registration to checkpoints along the trail and the finish. People can volunteer for as few as two hours. If you'd like to help out, review the Volunteer Roles and Responsibilities and mark the meeting dates on your calendar. What's in it for a volunteer? As a thank-you, all volunteers receive a coveted Marshal t-shirt, admission to the cookout, and the gratitude of hundreds of strangers!