We present a novel distributed memory algorithm to improve the strong scalability of the solution of a sparse triangular system. This operation appears in the solve phase of direct methods for solving general sparse linear systems, Ax = b. Our 3D sparse triangular solver employs several techniques, including a 3D MPI process grid, elimination tree parallelism, and data replication, all of which reduce the per-process communication when combined. We present analytical models to understand the communication cost of our algorithm and show that our 3D sparse triangular solver can reduce the per-process communication volume asymptotically by a factor of O(n1/4) and O(n1/6) for problems arising from the finite element discretizations of 2D "planar" and 3D "non-planar" PDEs, respectively. We implement our algorithm for use in SuperLU_DIST3D, using a hybrid MPI+OpenMP programming model. Our 3D triangular solve algorithm, when run on 12k cores of Cray XC30, outperforms the current state-of-the-art 2D algorithm by 7.2x for planar and 2.7x for the non-planar sparse matrices, respectively.