Rachel Carson is one of those names that pops up all over the city of Pittsburgh. She was an environmentalist whose research was instrumental in the restricting of DDT use in pesticides, but she was also someone who just seemed to love enjoying nature and wildlife. Because she was originally from Springdale (a little town off of Route 28), it’s logical that we have a series of trails in her honor in that area.
Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a hike to get to Harrison Hills Park, and I think a lot of us Yinzers have heard of the trails, but never experienced them. Back in 2003, a friend of mine had introduced me to the hilly trails, but I’d never had a chance to get back until this year.
Now it’s time for a really embarrassing Michael story: I’ve always loved hiking, dating back probably to the treks our parents took my childhood best friend and me on to McConnell’s Mills (we will likely return there in 2011, so get ready for that!). When Michael and I first started dating, I suggested we go for a hike somewhere. He gave me a look of, ‘you must be crazy,’ and before I decided this relationship would never work, I decided to give him a chance to explain and/or change his mind. It went something like this:
*jenn*: Do you like hiking?
Michael: I don’t know, I’ve just never understood the point of running up and down hills in the woods.
When I gave him a puzzled look in response, he elaborated, “I mean, that just seems exhausting.” It was only after I said that I had never run up and down any hills on a hike that the difference in comprehenshion became clear. As soon as I said, “This is not cross-country track; we will not run,” he responded with, “Oh, you mean a NATURE WALK!”
Apparently, in my husband’s mind, ‘nature walks’ and ‘hikes’ were two incredibly different things. As far as pre-2006 Michael was concerned, ‘hiking’ was only something you did at full speed, up and down hills, with your military backpack on and your rifle held above your head.
So, we’ve done some pretty fun hikes in the time since that misconception was clarified!
I’ve told you this story, though, because the Rachel Carson Trails are really just a series of hills. I mean, tons, and tons of hills. A lot of Pittsburgh woods hiking is hilly, but the Rachel Carson Trails top the leaderboard in sheer elevation and grade. I may have run part of the way up one of them just to be able to say, “Honey, look at me, I’m running up and down hills in the woods!”
And before Michael gets mad at me, I’d better get on to the pictures!
The beginning of the hike is a little poorly labeled, and we somehow got on it at a weird location, and ended up on this really un-blazed trail (insert Michael’s eyebrow raising and comments of, “Oh, you’ve hiked this before, right honey? Was there a trail here in 2003? I don’t believe it.” 🙂
The yellow marks are the actual Rachel Carson Trail, and the red marks are the Scouts Trail. Between these, you can travel about 35 miles all around Pittsburgh, and they have hiking challenges to see who can complete it in a single day (that is an Achievement for a year when we are in better shape lol).