Goal Training Hikes

Rachel Carson Trail Challenge - Saturday June 18, 2022

COVID-19 Changes

To avoid stranger carpooling, this year all hikes will meet at the start location at 8:15 AM. If you do not have a ride share, you can meet at the start and hike as far as you want then turn around and hike back to your car.

This series of training hikes is intended to prepare you to take on the Challenge on Saturday June 18. These hikes not only help you build your endurance, but they also allow you to field test your gear. Your new shoes or pants may seem fine on your ten mile hikes, but only when you approach 20 miles over hilly terrain do previously imperceptible problems become incapacitating.
  • Everyone is welcome on these hikes; you do not need to be entered into the Challenge to participate.
  • These hikes are strenuous. The objective is to train you to be able to complete the Challenge within the allotted time, so leaders will be maintaining an average pace of about 2.4 miles per hour, or a little over 25 minutes per mile.
  • There's no need to notify the hike leader of your plan to attend. Simply show up on time.
  • Please bring at least a quart of water (more if the temperature will be warm) and some energy snacks (e.g. Powerbar).
  • Minimum unaccompanied age is 12.
  • All hikes will meet at the hike start. It is your responsibility to arrange a car shuttle with safe friends or family members beforehand so that you can be at the hike start at 8:15 AM.
  • Although dogs are wonderful, please don't bring them on these hikes.
  • All hikes meet at the start at 8:15 AM. Plan for later hikes to take up to nine hours (including sign-in, announcements, car shuttling, and so forth).
  • The hikes are free. A suggested donation of $3 per person may be given to the hike leader on the day of the hike.

Sunday April 17
Bull Creek Road to Harrison Hills Park ELC
7.8 miles
03:11 duration
Climbing 1891 ft Descending 1580 ft
This hike begins at Bull Creek Road near Tarentum with a steep climb up to a nice view of the Bull Creek valley. Soon we hit Burtner Hill, one of the biggest and toughest hills on the Trail, followed by some easy, pleasant terrain and end in Harrison Hills Park.Meet at the parking area at the intersection of Bull Creek Road and Ridge Road. Take Route 28 to Exit #14 (Tarentum). Turn north 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
Sunday April 24
Emmerling Park to Freeport Road
8.6 miles
03:25 duration
Climbing 1749 ft Descending 1810 ft
Starting in Emmerling Park, we climb up then hit Rich Hill, Lefever Hill, and Log Cabin hill. After some road walking, we end near the Springdale Veterans Association Hall in Springdale.Meet at the Emmerling Park lot. Take Route 28 to Exit #11 and follow Route 910 (Yellow Belt) west about 4 miles and turn right on Cove Run Road. Travel about 0.5 mile to park entrance on the right. Map
Sunday May 1
Freeport Road to Bull Creek Road
9.4 miles
04:14 duration
Climbing 2627 ft Descending 2588 ft
On this hike we start in Springdale and head up to Agan Park followed by some steep ups and downs - including Murray Hill and Crawford Run hill. We end with a sharp descent near Tarentum.Meet at the Springdale Veterans Association Hall parking lot in Springdale. Take Route 28 to Exit #11 (Harmarville). After exiting onto Route 910 head towards Harmarville, turn left at the third traffic light onto Freeport Road and travel about 4 miles through 9 more traffic lights. The Springdale Veterans Association Hall entrance will be on your left just past the last light. Park on the far side of the lot. Map
Sunday May 8
Emmerling Park to Crawford Run Road
13.3 miles
05:23 duration
Climbing 2949 ft Descending 3029 ft
We start in Emmerling Park and up head and down a plethora of hills including Rich Hill, Lefever Hill, Log Cabin hill, and impressively steep Murray Hill. We'll end in Creighton.Meet at the Emmerling Park lot. Take Route 28 to Exit #11 and follow Route 910 (Yellow Belt) west about 4 miles and turn right on Cove Run Road. Travel about 0.5 mile to park entrance on the right. Map
Sunday May 15
North Park Harmar to Log Cabin Road
14.5 miles
05:43 duration
Climbing 2611 ft Descending 2965 ft
This hike begins in North Park and heads over to Emmerling Park, then up and over Rich Hill and Lefever Hill. We end at the Log Cabin Road checkpoint location.Meet at the Harmar Shelter in North Park. 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 take the next left onto Hemlock Drive, then left again into the swimming pool lot. Follow the perimeter drive all the way back and bear right. The Harmar Shelter is ahead on the left, behind the guardrail. Map
Sunday May 22
Eastern Terminus to Crawford Run Road
14.0 miles
05:53 duration
Climbing 3231 ft Descending 3635 ft
This hike starts at the eastern terminus of the Rachel Carson Trail, a part of the trail which Challengers never see. We'll hike through Harrison Hills Park, past the Bobwhite Shelter, then over Burtner Hill and down Crawford Run hill to Creighton.Meet at the parking area across Freeport Road from the eastern terminus. 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 traffic light at the T intersection with Freeport Road. There is a parking area on the left at this intersection.
Sunday May 29
North Park Harmar to Springdale High School
18.5 miles
07:12 duration
Climbing 3312 ft Descending 3541 ft
On this hike we'll cover the first half of this year's Challenge course. Starting in North Park, we march over to Emmerling Park, then up and over Rich Hill and Lefever Hill, then Log Cabin hill, some road walking, then we finish in Springdale.Meet at the Harmar Shelter in North Park. 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 take the next left onto Hemlock Drive, then left again into the swimming pool lot. Follow the perimeter drive all the way back and bear right. The Harmar Shelter is ahead on the left, behind the guardrail. Map
Sunday June 5
Emmerling Park to Bull Creek Road
18.0 miles
07:39 duration
Climbing 4374 ft Descending 4397 ft
This hike was specifically chosen to be the most difficult hike prior to the Challenge. We begin in Emmerling Park, head up over and down Rich Hill, Lefever Hill, Log Cabin Hill, Murray Hill, Crawford Run hill, then undulate through Creighton and end at the Bull Creek Road checkpoint location near Tarentum. If you get through this, you can do it!Meet at the Emmerling Park lot. Take Route 28 to Exit #11 and follow Route 910 (Yellow Belt) west about 4 miles and turn right on Cove Run Road. Travel about 0.5 mile to park entrance on the right. Map