Participant Information - Homestead Challenge

Rachel Carson Trail Homestead Challenge - Saturday June 18, 2022


The Homestead Challenge will take place rain or shine. Upon arrival at the Springdale High School, first stop at the table next to the parking lot on Marion Avenue to pick up your ID tag and map. You may optionally pick them up Friday evening in North Park. When you have your tag, you'll need to have it scanned before starting. Please pin the tag on your right side at waist level so it can be readily located. Memorize the number on the tag as it will be called out when it is scanned. You are responsible for ensuring your tag is properly scanned! Registration opens at 9:30 AM.


To reduce trail congestion, the Challenge has no group start time. You may start anytime between 10 AM and 10:30 AM. Make sure you stop at the table and let the volunteers scan your tag so we know you've left and have an accurate start time. Registration closes at 10:30 AM.


There are two checkpoints on the Homestead Challenge, each water, Gatorade, snacks, basic first aid, portable toilets, and radio communications. You must pass each checkpoint by the indicated cutoff time or you may be required to drop out.

Springdale High School0.0 9:30 AM10:30 AMtoilet-portable40.54656-79.77998
Agan Park2.72.79:45 AM11:45 AMtoilet-portable40.56008-79.78183
Bull Creek Road9.97.311:00 AM6:15 PMtoilet-portable40.61539-79.75875
Harrison Hills Park17.87.812:00 PM8:54 PMtoilet-portable40.65662-79.70273

There is an additional cutoff at the mile 15.7 Freeport Road crossing just outside of Harrison Hills Park. If you reach this point after 8 PM, you will not be able to continue. Transportation from there to the finish will be available.

Elevation Profile


Total Ascending 4528 ft. Total Descending 4376 ft.

Course Map


There is no shuttle service to the Checkpoints! If you drop out at a Checkpoint and cannot arrange your own ride, volunteers will do their best to assist you in securing transportation. However, this is not guaranteed and you will almost certainly be required to wait, perhaps for several hours, for someone to take you. If you drop out between Checkpoints, you will need to find transportation yourself or wait by the trail for the Trail Sweeps to come through and they will assist you as best they can.

ID Tags

You must turn in your ID tag in order to receive your t-shirt. If you drop out and don't make it to the finish, please give the tag to the supervisor of the closest Checkpoint. If you do not return your tag you will be charged a $5 replacement fee.


The t-shirts are distributed at the finish in Harrison Hills Park. You will be required to turn in your ID tag in order to receive your shirt. If you drop out, be sure to stop by the finish and collect yours. And while you're there, enjoy the cookout!


The Homestead Challenge is a point-to-point course, not a loop. When you finish you will be 17 miles away from where you started. You have two parking options:

  1. Park at Harrison Hills Park Bobwhite shelter (near the Challenge endpoint) and ride the morning shuttle to Springdale High School. The benefit of this option is you will be at your car when you finish the Challenge.
  2. Park at Springdale High School (the start), do the Challenge, then wait for the afternoon shuttle to take you back from Harrison Hills Park. The drawback is you will need to wait for the shuttle (perhaps 90 minutes or more) after you finish. However, there will be food and drink at the finish for you to partake while waiting.

You cannot park overnight on Friday at either the start or finish. No vehicles are permitted to remain there overnight, with or without occupants.

Trailhead Shuttle Itinerary

The trailhead shuttle bus will arrive at the Bobwhite Shelter in Harrison Hills Park at 9 AM, load, then depart. Please be on time for the shuttle, it cannot wait for you!

Afternoon Shuttle Itinerary

The afternoon shuttle bus will start running from Harrison Hills Park at 1 PM. The bus will make these stops, depending on passenger needs. When you board, please let the driver know where you need to go.

  • North Park
  • Bull Creek Road parking lot
  • Springdale High School parking lot


  • To Harrison Hills Park Environmental Learning Center: Take Route 28 to exit 16, turn east (right if exiting northbound) at the end of the ramp, then right again at the T-intersection with Freeport Road. The park is about one mile down on the left. Take the left fork of the Park entrance road, then the next left and follow it up to the ELC. Map
  • To Bull Creek Road Checkpoint: Take Route 28 to Exit #14 (Tarentum). Turn north (left if exiting northbound) on Bull Creek Road for a very short distance, turn right on Ridge Road, then immediately turn into the parking area on the right. Map
  • To Agan Park Checkpoint: Take Route 28 to Exit #12A (Pittsburgh Mills). At the end of the ramp, turn away from the mall on the main entrance road, then turn left onto Tawney Run Road. After about 1/2 mile turn right on Riddle Run Road. Travel another mile and turn left into the entrance to Agan Park. Map
  • To Springdale High School: Take Route 28 to Exit #12A (Pittsburgh Mills). At the end of the ramp, turn away from the mall on the main entrance road, then turn left onto Tawney Run Road. At the first stop sign, turn right onto Butler Road and follow it 2.0 miles. Turn left on Marion Avenue; the parking lot is on your left in about 1/4 mile. Map


  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Drink lots of liquid in small amounts at a steady, frequent rate. You should be carrying at least two quarts.
  • Water and snacks will be available at each checkpoint, every 7-8 miles.
  • Wear a hat and use a high-SPF sunblock. You'll be outside all day.
  • Watch the weather forecast closely to know what gear to bring; the Challenge will happen rain or shine.
  • Stay on the trail. Shortcuts may not be fair to other participants and can upset landowners.
  • Backtrack to find the last trail blaze and reassess your direction if you haven't seen a blaze in a hundred yards or so, as you may have missed a turn.
  • Resist forging ahead or spending time trying to "hook up" with the trail if you lose it; this rarely works to your benefit.
  • Respect private property! Much of the Rachel Carson Trail crosses privately owned land and the owners graciously allow us there; do not impose upon any landowner you may encounter.
  • Clean up any trash you bring and any you encounter along the way. There are trash receptacles at each checkpoint.
  • Stop if you feel sick! You won't be alone, plenty of participants don't finish.
  • Check in at each checkpoint. This is how we keep track of you! You must have a time recorded at every checkpoint or your finish time will be disqualified.


We need quite a few volunteers to help us stage the Challenge. Please cajole and/or coerce your friends, relatives and co-workers into helping! Check out the Volunteers page for details.