Rachel Carson Trail


rct-lefeverhill.jpgThe Rachel Carson Trail is a hiking trail north and east of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, spanning 46.1 miles (74.2 kilometers) between Harrison Hills County Park in the extreme northeast corner of Allegheny County, and North Park in the north-central area of the county. The trail is extremely varied, traversing several county parks, following power and gas lines, skirting suburban homes and farms, crossing creeks, meandering through woods and fields, and passing along the edge of steep bluffs. The terrain along the route ranges from paved roads to some areas that are quite primitive and rugged. A spur connects to the mansion area at Hartwood Acres County Park in Indiana Township, and the trail passes in front of the Rachel Carson Homestead in Springdale. Continuing urban development along the route of the trail brings disruption and requires rerouting from time to time. There are no camps or shelters along the way, meaning the trail is intended for day hiking. The trail is relatively primitive and steep in places. Few bridges have been built, so many streams have to be crossed as-is.


Note: The trail route is subject to change; always follow the yellow blazes.

Plan a Hike ...

The map will zoom to the hike selected in either of the options below. Click a location pin on the map to get a Google Map link for driving directions to it.

By Parking Location

This option is a list of all the parking locations along the trail, ordered alphabetically. A bold line is a starting location and the lines indented beneath it are the possible ending locations, ordered by distance. An arrow pointing to the left indicates the location is west (via the trail) of the starting location; an arrow to the right indicates the location is east of it. You may begin typing the name of the parking location to limit the list.

By Segment Length

This option is a list of all possible hikes between parking locations along the trail, ordered by distance. Each pair of parking locations is listed once because the distance is the same in reverse. You may begin typing the name of the parking location to limit the list.

Trail Ethics

At all times while hiking the Rachel Carson Trail, please:

  • Be courteous to people living along the trail.
  • Remember, you are generally on private property.
  • Respect the land and its owners. If asked to leave, do so.
  • Stay on the trail.
  • Do not camp or build fires along the trail.
  • Dogs must be on leashes; please be mindful that our trails use private property.
  • Refrain from using bicycles on the trail.
  • Keep off the trail with motorized vehicles.
  • Carry out your own trash; help by picking up others’ litter.
  • Recognize your limitations and your assumed risk. The Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy and the landowners want you to enjoy your hike; neither will take responsibility for personal injury or losses while using the trail.

Trail Alerts

  • The trail has been rerouted between Sample Road and Crouse Run, removing two stream crossings. (1 June 2024).
  • Road construction along Bailey Run Road in East Deer Township will begin in early May and continue through October. The trail will be open during this construction, but we ask all trail users to be cautious through the work zone. We also ask that everyone cooperate with the contractors and show respect for their equipment. (24 April 2024).
  • The trail has been rerouted off Freeport Road. (16 March 2024).
  • Sewer line replacement work is underway along Tawney Run south of Tawney Run Road. Please avoid this segment of the trail until July 30. Work will continue adjacent to the trail through September 2022, so be alert for construction activity and immediately follow instructions from the work crews. (26 July 2022)
  • The trail has been rerouted off Yutes Run Road. (22 May 2022).
  • The trail has been rerouted and no longer passes near the Bobwhite Shelter in Harrison Hills Park. Use the Ox Roast shelter down the road for more convenient access. (7 April 2022).

Older alerts…

  • Peoples Gas is excavating a gas line on the trail off Altermoor Drive in Harrison Township. Work is expected to be completed by January 2022. Please refrain from using the trail here during the project. (11 December 2021).
  • Please look for and respect "[Parking for] Hikers Not Permitted" signs in the Springdale Veterans Association parking lot, which are set out when an event is booked at the banquet hall. (6 August 2021).
  • Energy Transfer Partners will be excavating a gas line off North Ridge drive in North Park, which may impact the trail. Work is expected to be completed by the end of March. Please be alert and respect safety barriers and obey signs. (15 February 2021).
  • The trail has been rerouted off Riddle Run Road. (1 June 2020).
  • Dominion Energy is conducting gas pipeline maintenance at several places on the trail: along Deer Creek at Independence Excavating, on Myers Hill west of there, on Lefever Hill, and Rich Hill. The line will be shut down on June 1, and work is expected to be completed by the end of July. Please be alert and respect safety barriers and obey signs. (28 May 2020).
  • The Duquesne Light "No Trespassing" signs near Log Cabin Road are intended to deter dirt bikes and ATVs. Hikers may proceed. (18 April 2020).
  • The trail has been rerouted off Ridge Road. (14 March 2020).
  • The Marian Crossman bridge over Wexford Run is now open, completing the 6.8-mile westward extension of the trail and connecting it to the Harmony Trail. (27 October 2018).
  • In North Park on 9/27/18 and 9/28/18, all the North Ridge trails between the skating rink and the spillway will be closed for a film shoot. (21 September 2018).
  • To stop ATV and dirt bike damage, the landowner west of Rich Hill Road has installed orange snow fencing across the pipeline along with "Private Property/No Trespassing" signs. However, an opening was placed in the fence large enough for a hiker to pass. If you see anyone destroying the signs or fencing, please take photos and email them to the Conservancy and we'll forward them to the landowner. (17 March 2018)
  • Gas well development above Emmerling Park has forced a minor relocation of the trail around the site perimeter fence next to Cove Run Road. The new route has been blazed and temporary signs are in place. (5 October 2017).
  • There are new "No Trespassing" signs posted around the Springdale coal ash site, but Duquesne Light says these are not intended for Rachel Carson Trail users. (21 September 2017).
  • The replacement of the road bridge on Church Lane near Wagner Road is complete and the trail is no longer rerouted. (2 June 2017).
  • The road bridge on Church Lane near Wagner Road is being replaced. Follow the yellow flagging tape off the road and across Shafer Run. (30 April 2017).
  • Between Route 910 and Saxonburg Boulevard, logging for the turnpike widening has disrupted the route of the trail. Follow the yellow flagging tape through here. (9 March 2017).
  • The trail has been rerouted between Saxonburg Boulevard and Cedar Run Road because of the turnpike bridge closure (27 April 2015):
    • Westbound from Saxonburg Blvd., immediately after crossing the bridge over Deer Creek, follow the blazes which will turn right down the embankment, across the field, across Cedar Run on stepping stones, along Deer Creek, then up the hill and into the woods. You'll emerge on Route 910 and turn left, over the turnpike bridge, down to Cedar Run Road where you'll turn right.
    • Eastbound upon reaching Route 910 at the end of Cedar Run Rd., follow the blazes left and up Route 910 over the turnpike until you come to a power line clearing. Turn right onto the clearing, continuing to follow the blazes to Saxonburg Blvd. where you'll turn left on the bridge over Deer Creek.
  • The trail has been rerouted for nearly one mile between the Deer Creek bridge in Emmerling Park and Cove Run Road because of extensive logging. Follow the yellow flagging tape until the route can be blazed. (23 March 2014)
  • The Saxonburg Blvd. bridge construction is complete and the trail route has been restored. (October 2013)
  • The Saxonburg Blvd. bridge over Deer Creek is closed for replacement and the trail has been temporarily rerouted between Saxonburg Blvd. and Emmerling Park (July 2013):
    • Westbound from Emmerling Park at Cove Run Road, follow Cove Run Road to the left for about 0.25 mile. Turn left onto a township road for a short distance then bear right and up a short hill to Route 910. Turn right onto the berm of Route 910 and follow Route 910 for about one mile to the intersection with Saxonburg Blvd. At the traffic light, turn right and walk along the berm of Saxonburg Blvd. for approximately 100 feet to rejoin the Rachel Carson Trail on the opposite side, over the guardrail.
    • Eastbound, upon reaching Saxonburg Blvd, turn right, then left at the traffic light on to Route 910 and follow it for about one mile. A short distance after passing Emerling Plaza, turn left and descend down a short hill to a township road. Bear left on the township road then right onto Cove Run Road, continuing past the entrance and main parking lot for Emerling Park. Turn right at the gravel parking area to rejoin the Rachel Carson Trail where it enters Emerling Park over the footbridge.
  • The trail route has been adjusted eastbound of the Harmar shelter in North Park, to move it further away from the mountain biking skills park area. As part of this, the trail has been moved back into the woods and no longer crosses the grassy, open area next to South Ridge Drive. (April 2013)
  • The trail has been rerouted around the "roller coaster" utility corridor in Springdale at landowner request, due to problems with hikers crossing their property (May 2010):
    • Westbound from Freeport Road, follow the utility corridor until you reach the chain link fence of the Springdale High athletic field and turn left (this is also the Rachel Carson Homestead spur trail). When you reach the road (Butler Street), bear right, then left on Marion Avenue. Follow it until it ends and enter the woods.
    • Eastbound, after crossing Tawney Run Road, turn right before crossing the run and follow the old railbed.
  • An erosion-control reroute is now in place on the north slope of Murray Hill. High traffic on this steep hill has removed many of the plants and grasses, exposing the soil and accelerating erosion. The blazes will direct you into the woods, parallel to the gas line clearing, between Murray Hill Road and the crest of the hill. The slope has been seeded to encourage regrowth, so please follow the blazes. (25 Oct 2009)
  • The trail has been rerouted around the perimeter of the horse farm in Harrison Township. Pay special attention to the blazing in this area to ensure you're following the new route. Please close all gates behind you, don't approach any horses, and don't pet any dogs, lest they follow you. (7 April 2009)

Trail Condition

Presently the trail is in good shape; it's clear and well-blazed. Volunteer work crews address problem areas in the spring. If you encounter any difficulties with trail conditions, blazing, or landowners, please email us at info@rachelcarsontrails.org.

The Conservancy endeavors to keep the trail off paved roads as much as possible, and occasionally explores route changes to this end. About 15% of the trail, or 6.8 miles, is along roads. Most of these are lightly traveled, but some carry fast-moving traffic and have dangerous curves. Please use extreme caution at all times. Yield for traffic and never assume drivers can see you.

Trail Guide

RCT guide 2021 cover white.jpg

A printed guide to the Rachel Carson Trail is available for purchase. The guide includes a trail history, parking locations, suggested hikes, topographic maps, an elevation profile, and more. The guide may be ordered at our store.

Trailhead Directions

  • Western trailhead (map)

    From Pittsburgh, take I279 North to the McKnight Road exit and travel 13.4 miles north. Turn left into the Brooktree Center office complex (Wendy's restaurant is on the opposite side) and follow the road 0.3 miles to the Pittsburgh North Regional Chamber of Commerce building. Park on the far end of the lot, away from the building. The trailhead is reached by walking past the dumpster to the trail in the woods (alternatively, there is a large wooden sign on the road next to the trail). Follow the blazes in the woods down to Wexford Run, 0.25 miles. Cross the run on the Marian Crossman bridge to find the trailhead at the junction with the Harmony Trail.

  • Eastern trailhead (map)

    From Pittsburgh/northeast, take Route 28 to exit 16, turn east (right if exiting northbound) at the end of the ramp onto Millerstown Road and follow it to the T intersection with Freeport Road. There is a parking area on the left at this intersection for at least three cars. The trailhead is directly across Freeport Road.


In 1950, the Baker Trail - a hiking trail extending from the Boy Scouts-owned Camp Guyasuta near the north end of Highland Park Bridge in Pittsburgh to Cook Forest State Park - was dedicated by the Pittsburgh Council of the American Youth Hostels. After several years, the 25 miles within Allegheny County were abandoned largely due to development. During the years 1972 to 1975, dedicated hikers scouted and rebuilt much of the former trail following the bluffs of the Allegheny River from Harrison Hills County Park to Springdale and then turned west past Hartwood Acres and on to North Park.

Because the trail passes close by the birthplace in Springdale of Rachel Carson, one of the early ecologists, the trail was dedicated in her name. The Rachel Carson Trail was completed in February 1975.

  • See the February 1975 map of the trail here (187kB, PDF format). Note the absence of the Allegheny Valley Expressway.
  • Read an October 1973 article about the Allegheny Expressway from the now-defunct Pittsburgh Press here (517kB, PDF format). The Allegheny Valley Expressway is today known as Route 28, and Freeport Road is old Route 28. The photo looks south with Burtner Road in the foreground and Pleasantville Road crossing Little Bull Creek in the upper left.


Geologist Fred Zelt gave a presentation of the geology along the Rachel Carson Trail at our 2024 Annual Meeting and posted it on YouTube.

Related Information

Trail Stewards

These are the volunteers who have adopted and committed to maintain a section of the trail:

Western terminusMcKinney Rd. (west)1.5Michael P. Jackson, George Baer
McKinney Rd. (west)Pearce Mill Rd.2.6Mike Taylor, Christopher Schuster
Pearce Mill Rd.Pearce Mill Rd. at boat ramp2.9Matt Sudak, Tom Kalbaugh
Pearce Mill Rd. at boat rampSample Rd. at railroad tracks2.6Robert Istone, Matthew Lasek, Sienna Lasek
Sample Rd. at railroad tracksRoute 8 crossing1.6Linda Szewczyk, Mark Eyerman
Route 8 crossingMiddle Rd. crossing2.2Sue English, Dave Miller
Middle Rd. crossingRoute 910 at Cedar Run Rd.2.4Tom Armstrong, John Armstrong, Donald Pickerine
Route 910 at Cedar Run Rd.Cove Run Rd. at Eisele Rd.2.8Joe Kulbacki, Heather Kulbacki, William Stephens
Cove Run Rd. at Eisele Rd.Rich Hill Rd. crossing2.6Joe DeSantis, John DeSantis
Rich Hill Rd. crossingLittle Deer Creek Rd. crossing1.4Robert Reiland, Vera Krekanova, John Krofcheck
Little Deer Creek Rd. crossingTawney Run Rd. at Yutes Run Rd.2.2George Bender, Ruth Hallas, Linn Kotermanski
Tawney Run Rd. at Yutes Run Rd.Riddle Run Rd. at Freeport Rd.3.1Ben Brucker, Kurt Kellgren
Riddle Run Rd. at Freeport Rd.Riddle Run Rd. at Agan Park entrance2.0Lloyd Clarke, Karen Clarke
Riddle Run Rd. at Agan Park entranceCrawford Run Rd. at parking lot2.7Levi Wilson, Amber Cornman
Crawford Run Rd. at parking lotBailey Run Rd. (west)1.9David Fockler, Michael Anderson
Bailey Run Rd. (west)Bull Creek Rd. at Route 28 underpass2.6Kate Fissell, Douglas MacPhail
Bull Creek Rd. at Route 28 underpassBurtner Rd. crossing2.4Tim Deily, Robert Coburn
Burtner Rd. crossingAlter Rd. at Saxonburg Rd.1.9Amy Nelson
Alter Rd. at Saxonburg Rd.Freeport Rd. crossing1.8Elena Alves
Freeport Rd. crossingEastern terminus3.1Diane Kostka, Joe Kostka