RCT: Springdale to Emmerling Park & Leaning Cask Brewing

Springdale, PA

Big News and Big Hills! I’ll be tackling the Homestead Challenge aka the Half Rachel Carson Trail Challenge. That means in June, I’ll be hiking 19 miles in one day. Am I crazy? Maybe! Thankfully, the weather is getting nicer and I’m able to get out for some training hikes! The first section I tackled was the starting point of the half challenge at Springdale High School, close to the Rachel Carson Homestead. A big shout out to Tory from MyTrailsAreMany for getting me out on the trail to start training! This hike is a point to point (one way) hike which is best done with two cars. You’ll trek just under 9 miles and gain 1,365ft in elevation! This hike isn’t for the faint of heart but is a great way to get a taste of the RCT

THE HIKE: RCT – Springdale to Emmerling

Length: 8.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,365 ft
Difficulty: Challenging
Time: 3.5 hours
Trail use: Hiking, leashed pets
Parking: Large lots at either endpoint. Bring two cars to do Point-to-Point
H&H: 4/5

Training for the RCT Challenge is best done by tackling large sections of the trail. It’s best to do it with a partner or group so that you can carpool to the trailhead and leave another car at the endpoint. If going solo, just be aware that you’ll have to double back on yourself a lot! 

My friend Tory from MyTrailsAreMany, reached out about wanting to start training together. She did the Homestead Challenge last year and is going for the Full Challenge this year. Talk about hiking goals! Tory suggested this section of the RCT from Springdale to Emmerling Park because it had some big hills and was the first section of the Homestead Challenge. This was the perfect intro to the Challenge for me because it was the longest hike I’d done so far this year and the hills were NO JOKE. It definitely helped me set a baseline of where I need to improve! J and I were so grateful to have Tory as our guide and time keeper too. 

So, as I mentioned, this trail section starts at Springdale High School parking lot, right next to the baseball field. From there, head down Marion Ave where you’ll pass the original home of Rachel Carson. It’s undergoing some renovations right now, but hopefully will be back open soon. Continue to the end of Marion Ave where you’ll see a tree line and finally head into the woods. Always keep your eyes peeled for the yellow RCT blaze. You should almost always be able to see the next blaze from where you are. Be aware that at many spots along the trail there are intersecting paths and it can be easy to get off course. Let the yellow blazes guide you! 

This section will lead you through woods, along some streets, through a couple streams, and up and down several big hills. Expect to have some wet feet along the way and remember that undignified butt scooting is always an option on those hills! Lots of water and plenty of snacks are a must for these hikes. 

If you’re interested in doing the Homestead Challenge (19 miles) or the Full Challenge (36 miles), there’s still time to enter! You can find the registration page here. If you’re already signed up for the challenge and are looking to start training, the RCT Conservancy has a number of orientation hikes and training hikes coming up or find a friend (like me!) to hike with! 

How do you prepare for long hikes? Got any leg strengthening exercises to share with me?

THE BEER: The Leaning Cask Brewing Co.

Address: 850 Pittsburgh St, Springdale, PA 15144
Distance from Trail Head: 0.5 miles, 2 mins
Website: https://www.leaningcaskbrewing.com/
Food?: BYOF, Food Trucks
Details: Outdoor seating, dog friendly

The best thing about leaving our car at Springdale for this hike? Leaning Cask Brewery is only 0.2 miles away! I’ve had my eye on Leaning Cask for ages but it always seemed so far out of the way. Thankfully this hike was the perfect reason to stop. Although I still feel bad for the amount of mud (and probable stank) that we left at the bar. Anyone else ever feel bad for going somewhere after a particularly muddy hike? I really need to start bringing a change of shoes! 

Anyway, Leaning Cask is a great post-hike spot because they’ve got a large outdoor seating area as well as frequent food trucks on the weekend. They’ve also got an awesome taplist with so many different beer types, as well as some local wine. Also, true to their name, they’ve got some beer on cask! 

Cask ale – Also known as Real Ale, Cask Beer goes through a final fermentation in a cask or barrel. It features a slight carbonation and is served unfiltered at “cask temperature” (around 55F).

The Leaning Cask has been bringing an English pub flair to Springdale since 2016. The owners found themselves heavily influenced by English pub culture and wanted to bring that warmth to their brewpub in PA. You’ll also notice that the two are big dog lovers, as evidenced by many of their beer names. Hence, the pub is friendly to well-behaved and leashed doggos. 

Our Beer:

  • Goldendoodle – Golden Ale – 4.2%
  • Um…That’s On Fire – American IPA – 5.6%
  • Celestial Canine – NEIPA – 6%
  • Pedigree: Blood Orange & Cranberry – Fruited Sour – 6.8%
Photo cred: MyTrailsAreMany
Photo cred: MyTrailsAreMany

Also be sure to check out https://mytrailsaremany.com/ for hiking planning guides, tips and gear, and more!

2 thoughts on “RCT: Springdale to Emmerling Park & Leaning Cask Brewing

  1. Good luck with the Homestead Challenge. I completed the Full Challenge in 2018 and it is no joke! Also, you mention in your summary that bikes are allowed on the trail. They are in fact not allowed. This from RCT Website under Trail Ethics: “Refrain from using bicycles on the trail.” Happy Trails.


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