Event Information

Rachel Carson Trail Challenge 2008


The twelfth annual Rachel Carson Trail Challenge is on Saturday June 21, 2008, 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.

The two new shorter events we added last year proved to be quite popular, so we are continuing them this year. You have three events to choose from, 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 deadline is 8:54 PM, or 15 hours 4 minutes, whichever comes first. Limit 600 participants, minimum age 12.
Homestead Challenge
18 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 9:00 AM, finish deadline is 4:53 PM or 7 hours 53 minutes, whichever comes first. 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.
Family Challenge
8 Miles
This begins in Hartwood Acres Park in Indiana Township and ends at North Park. Starts at noon. It's intended for families of up to 5 members, and the minimum age is 8. Unlike last year, there are only a few modest hills on this section of the trail. Limit 50 families.

There'll be a cookout at the Beaver Shelter in North Park for everyone to enjoy. This year, all three events are ending at the same place.

Gold Sponsors
UPMCDollar Bank
Silver Sponsors
Pennsylvania Commercial Real EstateElite Runners & WalkersGoss, Inc.
Dick's Sporting GoodsCivil & Environmental ConsultantsWestern Pennsylvania Conservancy


ATTENTION! The 34-mile Challenge is SOLD OUT (slots are still available for the Homestead and Family Challenges). If you intend to register on-site on June 21, you will be required to wait on stand-by until 6:30 AM for any no-show slots to become available. The on-site registration fee is $80.

Click to registerAdvance registrations may only be submitted online, via active.com. Click here to register! Advance registrations will be accepted through June 18 and are non-refundable.

For one day only and provided we haven't reached our registration limit, we'll be accepting advance registrations via cash or check at our Annual Public Meeting on Saturday, May 10. Registration forms will be available at the meeting for you to fill out and payment must be made there.

Check In

This year you'll have the option of picking up your tag, t-shirt, and map on Friday, June 20 between 5 PM and 8 PM at the Old Firehouse in North Park. Veteran Challengers will be on hand to answer questions and discuss strategy.

Training Hikes

There will be four 8-9 mile training 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. There is a $3 activity fee ($1 if Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy member) per person, per hike, collected on the day of the hike. Click here for details.

New this year is a series of ten "goal training" hikes starting in March. These are geared toward folks who are new to the event, or who pefer an extended training regimen. There is a $3 activity fee ($1 if Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy member) per person, per hike, collected on the day of the hike, or $20 on the first hike if you sign up for all ten ($7 for members). Click here for details.

Participant Information

Please review important event details and other information for participants: Full Challenge, Homestead Challenge, Family Challenge.


Camping: Both North Park and Harrison Hills Park are county parks and camping is not permitted. The closest campground is the Mountain Top Campground, about 7 miles away from Harrison Hills Park and 17 miles from North Park.

Hotel: These hotels are closest to the parks:

HotelPhoneMiles Away
Near North Park
Econo Lodge(724)443-59115
Comfort Inn(724)444-87005
Holiday Inn(412)366-52007
Hampton Inn(412)939-320010
Near Harrison Hills Park
River Avenue Hotel(412)828-93004
Clarion Hotel(724)335-91719
Armstrong Farms B&B(724)352-285810
SpringHill Suites(724)274-106411
Maggie West B&B(724)274-890613
Days Inn(412)828-540015
Super 8(412)828-890015


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 mark the meeting dates on your calendar. 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!