Preserving and Promoting Community Trails
in Western Pennsylvania

Rachel Carson Trail Extended West

By Bob Mulshine

Since 1975, the western terminus of the Rachel Carson Trail was located near the Beaver Shelter in North Park. Periodically, people suggested extending it farther into the park, but it wasn’t until well after the 2004 merger with the Harmony Trails Council that a new location for the terminus became clear.

Last year, a 6.8-mile extension was blazed along existing park trails and a few roads in the commercial district of Wexford, and a trail through the woods between Brooktree Road and Wexford Run was improved. The final piece was a footbridge over Wexford Run. Funding was secured from the Commonwealth Financing Authority, Allegheny Regional Asset District, the Pittsburgh Foundation, and REI. The environmental studies and permits were obtained. Finally, we acquired the bridge.

On September 28, dozens of volunteers convened to assemble and install the 40’ fiberglass-reinforced polymer bridge, which was manufactured near Bedford, PA. Work began at 7 AM and finished around 6 PM, and within minutes a woman and her dog, out for a walk on the Harmony Trail, became the first to take advantage of the new bridge.

During a brief dry period on an otherwise rainy Saturday, the Marian Crossman Bridge over Wexford Run was dedicated on October 27, 2018. Short talks were given by Bob Mulshine of the RCTC and by Bill Moul of the North Area Environmental Council before Marian addressed the gathering and removed the ribbon, officially opening the bridge. Marian, who had championed the connection of the Harmony Trail to North Park for decades, expressed her happiness at seeing this bridge complete that connection, and she thanked all the volunteers who made it happen.

And so after 43 years, the western terminus of the Rachel Carson Trail is now located at the junction of the Harmony Trail in Wexford, increasing the trail length from 38.2 to 45 miles.

Barb Peterson Memorial Orientation Hikes Recap

By Bob Reiland

This fall’s Barb Peterson Memorial Hikes were held on November 3, 4, 10 and 11. There is some expectation of Indian summer for that time of the year, but it wasn’t to be this year.

We still had good attendance for the first, second and fourth hikes with 20 people making it on the very cold morning of November 11, but the forecast kept all but a hardy 5 of us away on the 10th. On that day we hiked the constant hills from the Springdale Veterans parking lot to Bull Creek road in driving wind and snow. As usual, it was a great day to hike!

The first hike started at the Harmar Shelter in North Park and went nearly 11 miles to the Emmerling Community Park. Recent rains meant that Crouse Run was deep and much of the Trail was muddy. These conditions made the hike more tiring than usual, but everyone enjoyed the extra challenge.

The second hike continued to the Springdale Veterans parking lot through Rich Hill, Lefever Hill and Log Cabin Hill. There was relatively little mud on the steep hills, and the hike was scenic and surprisingly easy. There were even a few late season flowers still blooming along the way.

The last hike to the Environmental Learning Center in Harrison Hills Park was cold at the start, but with beautifully clear skies all the way things warmed up quickly. As usual Burtner Hill was the main challenge, but everyone got through it in good shape. Views from the tops of the hills were wonderful, and the scenery in the woods made the last parts of the hike rewarding and relaxing.

It is always a pleasure to get out on good trails even on cold days. The next set of Barb Peterson Memorial Hikes will be in the spring.

About Barb Peterson

Barbara E. Peterson was an avid and energetic RCTC volunteer and event participant for many years. She died in 2010, at age 61, from ALS.

Rachel Carson Trail Projects in 2019

By Bob Mulshine

The RCTC is planning two projects on the Rachel Carson Trail in 2019 to address wet and muddy areas. We’ll be constructing a turnpike in North Park and another in Harrison Hills Park to raise the treadway above these areas.

The North Park project is located along the trail west of the Beveridge Shelter, on the flat section in the middle of the South Ridge Drive loop. Close proximity to a road makes it easier to move the needed lumber, gravel, and dirt to the site.

The project in Harrison Hills Park is located near the beaver pond where there are two small depressions that can collect water, and an extended area which is frequently very wet with ankle-deep mud. We plan to place large flat rocks on either side of the depressions so it’s easy to step over yet the water can flow between them. We’ll regrade the trail where appropriate, then build a turnpike to address the wettest areas. This site is not near a park road, which will make material transport more involved.

We’re working with the Allegheny County Parks Rangers to get the necessary permission and to request assistance with these projects. If you’re interested in participating in the planning, design, and/or material acquisition phases of these projects over the winter, please contact Bob Mulshine at 412-741-0862.

Baker Trail Maintenance Year in Review

By Patty Brunner

Thank you to everyone who gave their time and energy in 2018 to help the Baker Trail! Here’s what we accomplished:

  • Please welcome our newest trail steward Alynn Kramer, who will be taking care of a section near Route 210. The RCTC has several trail sections open for steward adoption in the Crooked Creek area. If you’re interested, please email Volunteer Coordinator Donna Stolz.
  • The Crooked Creek shelter was given a structural and cosmetic upgrade by Brenden Woodside as an Eagle Scout project with the help of his troop.
  • The Mahoning Reservoir reroute continues to lengthen and improve with the long-term goal of connecting the dam to the Milton Loop Campground. When completed, all road hiking between these points will be eliminated.
  • The trail segment from Summerville to Plumville was blazed and cleared in preparation for the Baker UltraChallenge in August.
  • Our weekend warriors worked in the rain and mud to repair the main supports and replace the cribbing of the Crooked Creek covered bridge, which was built in 1967. Once the roof has been replaced, the bridge will be ready to face the next 50 years.
  • The beaver pond pontoon footbridge, just north of Route 66, was repaired by Dave Galbreath. And farther north, the Coon Creek footbridge was washed off its foundation during spring flooding; look for a 2019 project to put it back!

Rachel Carson Trail Turnpike Completed in North Park

By Bob Mulshine

Thanks to everyone who helped the Conservancy win the $5,000 EQT Regatta grant earlier this year. The money was used to improve a perpetually wet section of the Rachel Carson Trail in North Park near Irwin Pond.

The Allegheny County Park Rangers, REI, Trail Pittsburgh and Eagle Scout Candidate Nick Grumski, along with Mark Kinneer of Rockwater Trail Service teamed up to get the work done. They rerouted the section of trail closest to Pearce Mill Road higher up the hill. They built a long turnpike, which has drains allowing water to flow under it, from the short turnpike that the Student Conservation Association built last year to near the end of the new reroute. They rock-armored the sloped section from the rerouted trail to the new turnpike. It was a lot of work which will make the area pleasant and dry for trail users on foot, bike, or horseback.

A volunteer workday was scheduled for this project in October but it had to be cancelled because of bad weather. We appreciate the hard work all of the people who contributed to this project.

Hiking During Hunting Season

By Patty Brunner

We are in the midst of hunting season and that affects hiking trails on public and private land in Pennsylvania, so trail users should be familiar with hunting rules and regulations. Because most hunting is currently prohibited on Sunday, hiking on that day of the week is always your best bet, but you still need to be cautious and wear orange for visibility since it’s legal to hunt fox, crow, and coyote every day.

Hunters on private property must abide by the same established seasons as hunters on public property, therefore hikers must also abide by the rules even when hiking on private property. Except on Sundays, trail maintenance and group hikes are not permitted on state game lands during the fall hunting season and spring gobbler season. Individuals are permitted to hike on game lands year round, but you must adhere to the regulations of wearing orange which varies between hunting seasons.

For the most up-to-date season information see the Pennsylvania Game Commission website www.pgc.pa.gov.


How I Got Involved

By Sue English

I first started hiking the Rachel Carson Trail about 18 years ago when my husband and I moved to Hampton with our two young sons. We knew there were trails and woods nearby, then we found out that one of the trails was the Rachel Carson Trail. Our family spent many days exploring the section between Rt. 8 and Middle Road.

In 2008, I signed up to do the 18-mile Homestead Challenge with a friend. We had a great time doing the training hikes and the event so we did it several more times; then, for my 50th birthday decided to do the Full Challenge. We still had fun but I was happy to check it off my “bucket list”, at least the East-West direction! My husband and sons have all finished at least one Homestead Challenge. But my older son really got the bug – after doing the Full Challenge, he moved on to the Baker Trail UltraChallenge and has completed all three sections, 150 miles in total!

The Rachel Carson Trail is a treasure and I feel that we all need to help keep our trails in good condition. I started by simply picking up trash along the trail. A few years ago, I became a trail steward and now help maintain a section of trail that includes one of the infamous hills – Log Cabin. Another fun way to help is by volunteering on the day of the Challenge or UltraChallenge. It's really motivating to work at the start, finish, or an aid station and see the trail runners and hikers enjoying the outdoors and challenging themselves. To learn all about volunteering, contact RCTC Volunteer Coordinator Donna Stolz.

Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy, Inc.
P.O. Box 472
Wexford, PA 15090-0472