Event Information

Rachel Carson Trail Challenge 2014


The eighteenth annual Rachel Carson Trail Challenge is on June 21, 2014, 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 Harrison Hills County Park and ends 34 miles later in North 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 Harrison Hills Park and ends in North Park. Starts at 5:30 AM, finish time limit is 15 hours 4 minutes. Limit 600 participants, minimum age 12.
Homestead Challenge
17 Miles
Also known as the "Half Challenge", it begins at the Springdale High School, near the Rachel Carson Homestead, and ends in North Park. Starts at 10:00 AM, finish time limit is 7 hours 39 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 age 12.
Friends & Family Challenge
7 Miles
This begins in Hartwood Acres Park in Indiana Township and ends at North Park. Starts at noon. It's intended for groups of up to 5 members, and the minimum age unaccompanied is 8. There are only a few modest hills on this section of the trail. Limit 50 groups.

There'll be a cookout at the Harmar Shelter in North Park for everyone to enjoy.

Gold Sponsors
UPMCElite Runners & Walkers
Supporting Sponsors
Emergency Physicians of Alle-Kiski
Bob 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010
A-K Pulser Paramedic Response Unit


The signup/registration site is here. Signup opens on March 1 and the first selection round takes place on March 8.

Check In

You will pick up your tracking tag and map when you check in at the start on June 21 (shirts are distributed at the finish). You have the option of checking in on Friday, June 20 between 5 PM and 8 PM at the Harmar Shelter in North Park. Veteran Challengers will be on hand to answer questions and discuss strategy.

Training Hikes

There will be four 8-9 mile orientation 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 5/31 & 6/1 and 6/7 & 6/8. Click here for details.

A series of eight "goal training" hikes is scheduled for every Sunday starting in mid April. These are geared toward folks who are new to the event, or who prefer 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, Friends & Family Challenge.


Camping: Both North Park and Harrison Hills Park are county parks and camping is not permitted. For parking RVs, there is a Walmart near the course halfway point.

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
Comfort 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 sign up. 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!