Last weekend it was finally time for us to tackle the (in)famous Rachel Carson trail. This trail spans 45 miles so it’s great for tackling in sections. Many sections. For our first trek, we did a 3 mile (6 mile out-and-back) section of the trail starting in North Park and turning around at Route 8. This trail is not for the faint of heart and you WILL get your feet wet! If you’re ready for a more challenging hike without going too far outside of the city, this hike is perfect for you! Afterward, grab a beer from Acrospire Brewing’s to-go only production facility. If the weather’s nice, enjoy your beverage in their outdoor biergarten!
THE HIKE: Rachel Carson Trail (North Park to Rt. 8)
Length: 6 miles
Elevation Gain: 660ft
Time: 2.5-3 hours
Trail use: Hiking, Running, Leashed Pets
Parking: Large gravel lots throughout North Park
Okay, so like I said, the Rachel Carson Trail spans just over 45 miles in northern Allegheny County, meandering between North Park and Harrison Hills Park. The trail is named, of course, for the renowned conservationist Rachel Carson, who was born in Springdale, PA. An offshoot trail actually leads to her childhood home! I can’t wait to check that out on a future hike. There are no shelters along this trail so it’s intended for day use. However, if you’re feeling up for a challenge, once a year the Rachel Carson Trail Conservancy hosts an endurance hike where hikers have 15 hours to do 34 miles of the trail. Definitely something I’d love to work up to!
One thing I really love about this time of year is that there’s enough daylight after work to squeeze in a hike! J and I are really lucky to work close to each other, so we made sure to pack our hiking clothes and some dinner and head out right after work! The Rachel Carson Trail runs through a large part of North Park, but we choose to start at the Beveridge shelter. There’s a large gravel lot in this area by the baseball fields. The first part of this trail is quite wide and downhill. There’s a quick road crossing and then you’ll hit your first stream crossing. And yes I said first because you’ll be crossing a lot of streams on this hike! Some have some stepping stones but I guarantee that you will get your feet wet. Nothing up to the knee though, unless you make a big mistake!
For the most part, I LOVED this trail. It was woodsy and I loved the challenges of crossing streams and climbing up ridges. However, there was a glaring part that kept this from being a 5 star hike. At the 1 mile point, you leave the woods and have to walk along the railroad tracks and then follow along the guardrail of a road to reach the next section of the wooded trail. I totally get that this trail runs through urban areas so it can’t be woods the whole time. But walking along the train tracks and the road felt a little dicey to me. Thankfully it was only for a short time and the fantastic woods really made up for it!
As always with hiking, it’s important to remember that, as hikers, we’re just visitors in nature’s home. Always keep your eyes peeled for wildlife like this little snake we saw! He’s just a common garter snake, but it’s important to know that we do have venomous snakes in this area and it’s best to give all wildlife the space they need!
This will definitely be just the first of many trips on the Rachel Carson Trail for Hikes & Hops! Do you have a favorite section of this trail??
THE BEER: Acrospire Brewery Company
Address: 1650 Butler Plank Rd, Glenshaw, PA 15116
Distance from Trail Head: 6.4 miles, 16 mins
Details: Outdoor seating only & dog friendly
H&H Rating: 4/5
I really need to start venturing north of the city more often because there are so many breweries! Acrospire grabbed my attention since it’s so close to North Park! It was the perfect place for us to stop by in the evening. At first, I was worried because I didn’t realize they only did to-go sales. However, they have a nice outdoor space where you can sit and enjoy draft pours. Just be aware that there’s no covered/heated seating for those not so nice days! Acrospire seems to be quite the popular place with the locals, as we saw so many people coming to get growlers and 4-packs for the weekend. I love seeing a community really embrace their local brewery.
On our visit, we stuck with mostly pale ales since we were craving something refreshing after our sweaty hike. My favorite of the night was the Kaleidoscope which balances a deliciously fruity flavor with some solid NEIPA hoppiness. J really liked the West Coast IPA which had a very strong pine-y flavor. I’m so glad we made it out to Acrospire and I’m looking forward to what the future brings for them. They just announced future plans to open a new production facility and taproom!
- Swamp Thing – West Coast IPA – 7.2%
- Serendipity – IPA – 7.2%
- Kaleidoscope – New Zealand IPA – 6%
- Hear no Evil – Ginger Wheat Beer – 5.4%
SUM UP: The Rachel Carson Trail is a 45 mile point to point trail that runs across northern Allegheny County. It’s well known for its challenging terrain and many stream crossings. This hike tackled a small portion of the trail starting in North Park and turning around at Route 8. There’s plenty of parking at the trail head and leashed pets are welcome! After your trek, head over to Glenshaw to sample the brews at Acrospire! They’ve got a surprising variety of taps for a small operation and everything is expertly made. They don’t have a taproom, but you can get drafts to-go and sit outside on their patio! Keep an eye out for their upcoming expansion and taproom!