2015 Visitors Guide

15 Minutes to the Dock or Trail?

Many visitors to Raystown Lake and Huntingdon County find this area to be a place to enjoy throughout the seasons or to settle down in. Beautiful scenery, friendly people and the opportunity for year-round outdoor recreation make this a place to want to be when you’re ready to relax and enjoy time with friends and family. Many who have visited the Raystown area for years decide to retire here and make their vacations permanent.

Photo by Kevin Mills, www.twophotografers.com

Photo by Kevin Mills, http://www.twophotografers.com

Members of the Huntingdon County Board of REALTORS are here to help you find a home, cabin or land to build or hunt on. REALTORS are more than real estate agents. As members of the National Association of REALTORS we are required to abide by a strict Code of Ethics designed to protect the public and encourage home ownership. You can view our available properties at http://www.RaystownHomes.com where it’s easy to request additional information or arrange to see properties. Member brokers and agents work in cooperation in a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) so that the agent you chose to work with can show you any broker’s properties no matter who they’re listed with saving you time and letting you stay with an agent you know.

Huntingdon County began as an agricultural community and still remains primarily rural. That’s why the Raystown Lake area feels more relaxed than many recreational destinations. Properties are generally well priced compared to other areas. Homes and cabins start around $70,000 for a simple cabin or mobile home in the country. A home in one of the many small towns can be a good value as well.

There are lots and larger tracts of land available for sale should you decide to build. 1-2 acre lots generally start around $28,000 and go up depending on size, location and terrain. Open lots are easy to build on, but wooded lots are currently favored and cost a bit more. Because of the variety of terrain and locations there is no single “per acre” price for larger tracts.

As a rural area our housing inventory is smaller than in a metropolitan area. While there is certainly a wide range of properties and prices, there may be few of any one type or in a particular location. That’s why it’s especially important to engage one of our REALTORS early in your search so they get to know what you want and can let you know when the right property becomes available. They can also suggest other properties that you hadn’t considered. Buyers working with agents tend to find their desired property in less time than those simply searching on their own.

The Huntingdon County Board of REALTORS is here to help when you’re ready to begin your search.

Dan Guyer
Apex Realty Group
Huntingdon County Board of REALTORS

Categories: 2015 Visitors Guide, Lifestyle | Leave a comment

Generation Raycation Celebration

Photo by Laura Ashley Photography, www.facebook.com/Laura.Ashley.Photography

Photo by Laura Ashley Photography, http://www.facebook.com/Laura.Ashley.Photography

We have a guest post today. Gray Wagner’s article first appeared in the 2015 Huntingdon County Visitors Guide…

We met in college – from different parts of the same state. We grew affection for Central Pennsylvania and each other through our involvement in the outdoors club. We made great friends, who after graduation dispersed around the country and world, though mostly in the Mid-Atlantic United States. We have family all over Pennsylvania – her brother, his wife, and their two daughters live outside Philadelphia; my grandparents recently downsized from my dad’s childhood home to a continuing care retirement community near Raystown Lake; her favorite aunt lives in Pittsburgh with her partner; my parents live in State College; and so on.

A couple of years ago, we were able to get together with our college friends for DirtFest, an awesome mountain bike festival held in May at Raystown Lake. Little did she know that, during a rest to take in the view from our favorite overlook, I would drop to one knee and offer her a ring! Luckily for me, she accepted, and that evening’s concert turned into our engagement party!

Fast forward a year and we’re sitting in our favorite Philly brewpub talking to the bartender about life, beer, and other topics. We mentioned that we’re planning a wedding, and we got engaged at Raystown Lake. Then he pours us a beer sample, saying “try this.” We taste it…delicious beer with notes of coffee, and just the right amount of bitterness for our palettes. He says, “we made this with coffee beans from Standing Stone Coffee Company in Huntingdon, and our hops come from a farm there…small world!” As it turned out, we had met the hops farmer during our DirtFest weekend… Really small world!

Over the next couple of weeks, things kept reminding us about Raystown…a call from Grandma, a local magazine article, a friend’s photo in our newsfeed… Then it hit us – We should get married at Raystown! When that decision was made, it was amazing how quickly things fell into place. My parents hosted the rehearsal dinner at Mimi’s Restaurant & Martini Bar. Remember the hops farmer? We got married on his farm! Grandma recommended a great caterer for the reception, and we used an incredible local photographer.

It was also amazing how many of our family and friends decided to stay a couple of extra days to enjoy the area while there to celebrate with us. Our college friends (many of whom were in the wedding), rented a houseboat for the week, and threw the perfect bachelor party on the water one night, and two nights later, a fun bachelorette party. The favorite Aunt brought her kayaks and floated down the Juniata River. My brother-in-law to be rented a vacation home for the family, and took the kids to ride the rails at Rockhill Trolley Museum, explore Lincoln Caverns, and blow-off some steam at Slinky Action Zone. Pap and Grandma took my bride’s grandparents to hike at Trough Creek State Park, then cruise the lake on the Proud Mary Showboat.

Weddings are usually all about the couple getting married. Our wedding was about a great Raystown vacation (Raycation, if you will) for generations of our newly combined family and friends, and creating memories of a place that’s special to us. We wouldn’t have it any other way!

By Gray Wagner

Categories: 2015 Visitors Guide, Weddings | Leave a comment

Grab Your Paddle

By Helena Kotala

The Raystown Lake Region has no shortage of trails. With the internationally-recognized Allegrippis Trails at its heart, and the Standing Stone, Mid-State, Terrace Mountain, and Lower Trails connecting corners of the county, forested pathways abound. But what perhaps many people overlook are the watery ones, the network of streams and rivers that also connect places to one another.PaddleBoard

The Raystown Region has no shortage of these either, with the mighty Juniata River as the nexus, and its branches spreading like fingers throughout the area. The Raystown Branch, which also includes the 30-mile-long and 8,300-acre Raystown Lake, Frankstown Branch, and Little Juniata all begin in very different places and are very different rivers, but they all meet and become one around Huntingdon, and then flow together to the Susquehanna, the Chesapeake Bay, and finally into the Atlantic Ocean.

Exploring these “trails” by boat is an activity that can be enjoyed by all ages and levels of expertise. While paddling the more-technical Little Juniata requires some level of skill and experience, the flatwater that makes up much of the mainstem or the Raystown Branch can be navigated by those with more minimal experience. Rothrock Outfitters, based in downtown Huntingdon, offers guides, boat rentals, and shuttle services to help you make the most of your experience. The Juniata River Sojourn is an annual multi-day river trip that takes place in June and offers participants a guided look at the region’s water trails.

So grab your boat and PFD, and get out there on the water!

Categories: 2015 Visitors Guide, Outdoor Recreation, Things to Do | Leave a comment

Yo Ho Ho…Treasure Huntin’ We Will Go

Who doesn’t like the idea of treasure hunting? Searching for a prize, the friendly competition, the payday when you do find it. The idea seems very pirate-like and farfetched in modern day. What if I told you that you too can go on a treasure hunt today and experience the thrill and excitement that will surely come along with your hunt? You can, with a relatively new game called geocaching.
Geocaching is a modern day treasure hunt taking families and friends outside while using the technology of today. All you need to participate is a GPS unit or a smart phone, a free membership to http://www.geocaching.com, and some swag to trade. This can be just about anything, from a playing card to a rubber ducky, a little army man or even a collectible coin. Some of the most popular items include Happy Meal toys and small trinkets.
Geocaching started in 2000 with just a handful of geocaches, and has blossomed to over 5 million today all over the world. The word “geocaching” comes from the root words “geo” for geography and “cache” for a hidden stash of provisions. The game uses the website http://www.geocaching.com to organize the many geocaches available by location, type, terrain, and difficulty. To start your adventure, log on to the site, find the cache that interests you, grab something to trade, a pen and a GPS unit, and get out there.
If you do not own a GPS, or a GPS-capable smart phone, you can stop by the Raystown Lake Visitors Center at the Seven Points Recreation Area and borrow one for free. All you need is a valid driver’s license and a credit card to check one out for up to 2 days at a time. The GPS units have some of the area geocaches already programmed in, so you can get right out and start with your hunt. This is perfect for beginners that have never geocached before. You will be given a how-to on using the unit so you aren’t sent out blindly, and you can even program other geocaches into the units to explore other areas that are not already programmed in.
Geocaching can be a great excuse to go out and explore parts of your area that you never knew existed. Well-hidden nature trails, breathtaking overlooks, trips across the lake, and a walk through a birch tree field that will make your mouth water are all places you may come across here in Huntingdon County while geocaching. There are not very many places in the county that you can travel to without being close to a geocache. All you have to do is know where to look.
There are several different types of geocaches that you may encounter along the way. The most straightforward is the Traditional Cache, which will be at specified coordinates, in a container that will include a log book. If you want a bit of history or a well-thought-out puzzle to decipher before going out, choose a Puzzle or Mystery Cache. With these caches, you will have to decipher a sometimes-complex puzzle that will give you the coordinates to the cache. Another type is called a Multi-Cache. These geocaches will have several different locations that you have to visit, each one giving you a clue to find the next one. The final clue will lead you to the actual geocache or container. To find out about other types of geocaches, visit http://www.geocaching.com.
Geocaching doesn’t have to be an all day adventure. While there are many that require hiking and long trips, there are just as many that can be found in towns or right along the road. Geocaching can be fun for anyone regardless of age, ability or fitness level. Since they are all around us, you can be sure to find one that will fit to your ability level. You can plan a whole day around one or two geocaches along with a trip to Raystown Lake, a local cave, or a beautiful State Park such as Trough Creek. You can grab a quick one while passing through Huntingdon and shopping at the local artisan shops. Or try to log twenty in a day and travel all over Huntingdon County. The possibilities are endless. Just don’t forget to record your finds at geocaching.com, so that you can keep up with and even brag about how many you have conquered.

By Michelle McCall and Brigit Seager

Categories: 2015 Visitors Guide, Outdoor Recreation, Things to Do | Leave a comment

Stroll Awhile

The train chugs through between New York and everywhere else. The RVs who mammoth their way into town tend to turn north to State College or head south to the lake. Whether they come to turn Happy Valley into the third largest city in Pennsylvania for a few weeks each fall, or to camp, boat, and fish on the state’s largest inland lake at Raystown, the traffic here is huge and tends to gravitate to the massive.

That’s nice. But you folks reading this might consider going a little smaller while you’re here.

I live in Huntingdon and work at Juniata College and have spent a few years walking in this place. And when you slow down, the details can come at you fast.

G_LittleHouse_ecsDSC_5631

Photo by Ed Stoddard

Stroll downtown Huntingdon and you will see what was once a thriving global industrial center: the historic homes and their porches wide as an industrialists’ waistcoat, the J.C. Blair brick “skyscraper” of eight stories that was once the tallest building in Pennsylvania between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, our photogenic town hall (pictures of which you can purchase on any number of postcards and calendars), and the shops undergoing transformation on the town’s main streets.
Where merchants once sold shoes and home goods are galleries, thrift shops, cafes, gift stores, florists, and more. You can spot a koi pond tucked in behind a building, a miniature historic house next to our historical society, or marvel at mosaics you and murals that you discover as you turn a corner or drive into town. You can even discover, as you amble up the road next to the fiberglass plant—an industry that is making Huntingdon again a thriving global supplier—the mounds of green marbles that, by their sheer novelty, will entrance anyone who comes upon their unexpected glimmer.

A favorite route I take with my kids is to start at the library in the center of town, at the corner of 4th and Penn Streets, visit the ArtSpace—a gallery with rotating shows put on by the county’s arts council—before heading to lunch at Boxer’s, a great pub with rotating craft beer selections, or Stone Town Gallery, a restaurant in an art gallery featuring the work of regional artists, as well as a paint-your-own pottery studio. After that, we might grab a movie at the Clifton 5, a restored historic theatre with fully modern digital projection, or walk up to Standing Stone Coffee Company for a warm beverage or smoothie.

That’s just one option: we sometimes hit Sweetheart’s Confectionery for a cupcake (or a dozen). We might go to something at the Huntingdon Community Center on 4th Street. It might just be a nice day to walk up Mifflin and look at the gardens in the yards. Or to note the decorations—people here decorate for holidays the way most people save it up for Christmas. It feels sometimes like Arbor Day even gets its due with twinkly lights and door hangers.

And why not walk? Odds are, if you’re visiting, you’ve spent a good amount of time in traffic. If you came for Penn State football, you dealt with the blue-and-white march of idling and racing automobiles, and need to stretch the legs. If you came to camp or visit the lake, when you finish the unpacking or have accidentally burnt yourself to a crisp out in the sun, a good stroll will help you out.

I know you like the lake. And State College is great—I’m a proud Penn State grad. But for a change, and at a pace where you can take in the delights of the unexpected, the creativity of our residents and the geographic splendor of where we are located, get out there and walk around Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.

By Gabe Welsch

Categories: 2015 Visitors Guide, Things to Do | Leave a comment

Trough Creek State Park.

By Helena Kotala

It’s always been one of my favorite places — the rhododendron-filled gorge, sun filtering in through the pines, and the rushing of the rocky stream combine to create a vibe of serenity. The enchanting swinging bridge, curiosity-inducing Ice Mine, and gravity-defying Balanced Rock instill a sense of wonder.

Rainbow Falls after a big rain. Photo by Michael Reed.

Rainbow Falls after a big rain. Photo by Michael Reed.

This is Trough Creek State Park, a place that, in my opinion, is one of the prettiest in the Raystown Region, a spot definitely worth visiting. The 554-acre park surrounds the scenic gorge created by Great Trough Creek as it cuts through Terrace Mountain before emptying into Raystown Lake. The park is also enveloped by other public lands — Rothrock State Forest and Raystown Lake Recreation Area, creating a large tract of contiguous forested land.

The area is best known for its hiking trails, which take users past many spots of natural beauty. One of the most popular routes, Balanced Rock Trail, crosses the creek on a suspension bridge and winds along the hillside amongst rhododendrons for a short distance before crossing another bridge at Rainbow Falls. The Falls are named for the occasional rainbow created by the sun filtering in through the trees hitting the mist. The falls can be just a trickle during the drier times of the year, but in the spring and after a big rain, they are transformed into an impressive flow of water cascading down the hillside into Great Trough Creek. The trail continues past the falls up to Balanced Rock, an “erosion remnant” that is precariously balanced on a cliff high above the gorge. Though the rock looks like it will fall over the edge at any moment, it’s been there for many years, and has barely moved from its original position. Don’t be the tourist that tries to push it over.

From these must-see sights, there are a number of trails that branch off that can easily extend a hike and expose visitors to other beautiful parts of the park. Ledges Trail, Rhododendron Trail, and Copperas Rock Trail all traverse the western side of the Gorge, while Boulder Trail and Laurel Run Trail take hikers along the side of Terrace Mountain on the eastern side. The park can also be used as a trailhead for the Terrace Mountain Trail, a ~30-mile thru-hike that runs along the mountainside for the length of Raystown Lake.

Many of the trails are steep and rocky, so if you go, use caution and wear appropriate footwear.

You can pick up a park map at the park office, located on your left as you enter the park. The maps shows all the hiking trails, as well as other points of interest.

On your way into the park, be sure to stop and check out Copperas Rock, a large outcrop overhanging the river that is naturally dyed a yellowish-orange color. Further into the park, you’ll encounter yet another interesting geologic feature—the Ice Mine. The Ice Mine is not a mine, but an opening into the hillside that acts as a passageway for cool air. Walk down the steps into the little hole in the ground and you will feel a sudden burst of winter—a real treat on a hot summer day.

Trough Creek also has a rich history. American Indians inhabited the Gorge for years before white settlers found the area. Paradise Furnace was founded in 1827, and began producing approximately 12 tons of iron a day. During the twentieth century, the Civilian Conservation Corps came to the area as well, planting trees, constructing recreational facilities, and creating what is now Trough Creek State Park. Edgar Allen Poe is also rumored to have spent time in the area, and the ravens inhabiting cliffs above the gorge were supposedly inspiration for his famous poem, “The Raven.”

Trough Creek is an area that is great for day use, but also provides enough to see and do to warrant a longer stay. The park does have 29 campsites, which are open from mid-April to mid-December, offering accommodations for shoulder seasons as well as the peak summer months. The park is truly a treat to visit any time of year, and with its remarkable beauty and plethora of trails and outdoor recreation opportunities, you’ll quickly discover why it’s on MY list of favorite places in the Raystown Lake Region. Go and check it out for yourself!

#Raystownselfie at Rainbow Falls. Photo by Michael Reed.

#Raystownselfie at Rainbow Falls. Photo by Michael Reed.

Helena Kotala is an outdoor enthusiast and writer living between Huntingdon and State College. You can read more about her adventures in the Raystown Lake Region and elsewhere at http://helenawrites.wordpress.com/

Categories: 2015 Visitors Guide, Outdoor Recreation, Things to Do | 1 Comment

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