Participant Information - Homestead Challenge

Rachel Carson Trail Homestead Challenge 2009 - Saturday, June 20

This document is for the 16-Mile Homestead Challenge.
For the 34-Mile Rachel Carson Trail Challenge, click here
For the 7-Mile Family Challenge, click here


The Homestead Challenge will take place rain or shine. Upon arrival at the Springdale High School, all participants must first check in at the table. This is so we can record your participation and you can pick up your ID tag and maps. You may optionally pick up your tag and map Friday evening, in which case you don't need to check in at the shelter. Please pin the tag on your right side at waist level so it can be scanned at each Checkpoint. Memorize the number on the tag as it will be called out at each checkpoint when it is scanned. You are responsible for ensuring your tag is properly scanned! Registration opens at 10:30 AM.


To reduce trail congestion, the Challenge has no group start time. You may start anytime between 11 AM and 11:30 AM. Make sure you stop at the table and let the Trail Marshal there scan your tag so we know you've left and have an accurate start time. Registration closes at 11:30 AM.


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

CheckpointMiles OutCutoff Time
Springdale High School Registration (map)0.011:30 AM
Agan Park Checkpoint 1 (map)1.912:30 PM
Bull Creek Road Checkpoint 2 (map)9.43:45 PM
Harrison Hills Park Finish/Cookout (map)17.06:45 PM

Course Changes

There are two course changes this year. First, the Challenge will be ending at the Environmental Learning Center in Harrison Hills Park, which lengthens the course by about 0.4 miles. Signs will guide you from the Bobwhite Shelter. Second, the Trail has been rerouted around the horse farm in Harrison Township as described on the Rachel Carson Trail page under Trail Alerts.


There is no shuttle service to the Checkpoints! If you drop out at a Checkpoint and cannot arrange your own ride, the Trail Marshals 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 16 miles away from where you started. You have two parking options:

  1. Park at Harrison Hills Park near the Environmental Learning Center (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 Environmental Learning Center in Harrison Hills Park at 10 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 parking lot
  • Springdale High School parking lot


  • 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
  • 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 Checkpoint 1: 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. Continue up the 1/2 mile park access road to the ball fields. Map
  • To Checkpoint 2: 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


  • 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.
  • There is a Sheetz (a regional convenience store) on Freeport Road in Creighton, less than 200 feet off the trail at mile 5; consider carrying some cash for sudden cravings, medicine, or other necessities.


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.