Participant Information - Full Challenge

Rachel Carson Trail Challenge - Saturday June 19, 2021


The Challenge will take place rain or shine. Upon arrival at the trailhead in Harrison Hills Park, all participants must first check in at the Bobwhite Shelter to pick up your ID tag and map. You may optionally pick them up Friday evening, in which case you don't need to check in at the shelter. 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 5:00 AM.


To reduce trail congestion, the Challenge has no group start time. You may start when ready, as early as 5:25 AM if there is sufficient light, and as late as 6:30 AM. Make sure you stop at the trailhead and let the volunteers scan your tag so we know you've left and have an accurate start time. Registration closes at 6:30 AM.


There are four checkpoints on the Challenge, each with water, Gatorade, snacks, 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.

Harrison Hills Park0.0 5:30 AM6:30 AMtoilet-portable40.65259-79.6998
Bull Creek Road7.47.46:30 AM9:45 AMtoilet-portable40.61539-79.75875
Agan Park14.67.27:30 AM12:45 PMtoilet-portable40.56008-79.78183
Log Cabin Road21.36.78:45 AM3:30 PMtoilet-portable40.57438-79.81999
Shaffer Run Road28.67.39:45 AM6:45 PMtoilet-portable40.58631-79.89541
North Park35.87.111:00 AM8:54 PMtoilet-portable40.58866-79.99091

Elevation Profile


Total Ascending 7887 ft. Total Descending 7741 ft.

Course Map

Covid-19 Protocol

Please carefully review these rules and be prepared to comply with them. Covid-19 is a serious disease so it's critical that no one deviates from the protocol in order to keep everyone safe.

The operating principle is that the primary transmission vector is the air and infection is a function of exposure quantity ("viral load") and time. That means constraining individual emissions (via masks) and minimizing time spent in close proximity.

If you simply behave as though you are infected and don't want to infect anyone else, all these rules will come naturally.


  • Masks are required while on the shuttle bus, at check-in, at the start, at each aid station, and the finish. Masks are not required while on the trail.
  • Maintain at least six feet separation when near other people for more than a few moments.
  • Wear a mask which covers your mouth and nose when around other people.
  • Turn away from people when exhaling heavily, even when wearing a mask.
  • Masks and hand sanitizer will be available everywhere. If you don't see them, ask.

Afternoon Shuttle Bus

  • Everyone must wear a mask.
  • busSeating.jpgStaggered seating will be used as shown here. Please fill the bus front-to-back and sit in the proper place based on the position of the person in front of you.
  • During the bus trip, please sit quietly and refrain from talking.
  • Weather permitting, please lower the bus window next to your seat.


  • While in the starting queue, maintain a safe distance and wear a mask.

Aid Stations

  • Everyone must wear a mask within the aid station area.
  • Only volunteers are permitted to touch the fluid dispensers. Volunteers will operate the valve while the participant holds their hydration pack or bottle underneath.
  • Cups with water, Gatorade, and soda will be placed on the table for participants to take.
  • Gels, PB&J, fruit, candy, etc. will be individually packaged and dispersed on the table for participants to take.
  • Only participants and volunteers are permitted near the aid station tables.


  • Food will be provided by volunteers on plates for participants to take.
  • Canned soda, water, chocolate milk, Gatorade, and cups with ice will be provided by volunteers.


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 North 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 picnic!


The Challenge is a point-to-point course, not a loop. When you finish you will be 35 miles away from where you started. You have two parking options:

  1. Make arrangements to leave a car at North Park (the finish) Friday evening or early Challenge morning. There will be no morning shuttle service this year. The parking area is at the swimming pool (map).
  2. Park at Harrison Hills Park (the start), do the Challenge, then wait for the afternoon shuttle to take you back to Harrison Hills Park from North Park. The benefit of this option is you don't need to get up quite as early. The drawback is you will need to wait for the shuttle (perhaps 60 minutes or more) after you finish the Challenge (also note that the shuttle starts running at 1 PM). However, there will be a picnic at the Harmar Shelter for you to partake while waiting.

Afternoon Shuttle Itinerary

The afternoon shuttle bus will start running from North 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.

  • Hartwood Acres Park mansion parking lot
  • Springdale High School parking lot
  • Harrison Hills Park Bobwhite shelter parking lot


  • To North Park Harmar Shelter: From Pittsburgh, take I279 North to the McKnight Road exit and travel 6.4 miles north. Take the North Park/Ingomar Rd. exit east and turn right at the third traffic light onto Babcock Blvd., then the next left onto Hemlock Drive, then left again into the swimming pool parking lot. Map
  • To Shaffer Run Road Checkpoint: Follow Route 910 along the Yellow Belt to 1/2 mile west of the Saxonburg Blvd. intersection and turn onto Cedar Run Rd. Travel about 1 mile (stay left onto Shaffer Road at fork) to a wide area in the road where you may park on the left. Map
  • To Log Cabin Road Checkpoint: Take Route 28 to Exit #12. Turn right at the end of the ramp, then right at the stop sign onto Little Deer Creek Road (aka Russellton Road). Travel about 1.5 miles and turn right on Log Cabin Road. Park about 100 yards ahead 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 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 Harrison Hills Park Bobwhite Shelter: 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 and follow it 1/2 mile to the shelter parking lot on the right at the Bluejay sign. 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.