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Posts Tagged With: mountain biking
Yesterday was the first of what will be a series of outings for the staff of the Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau called Monday Meanders. With the blessing of our board of directors (thank you) and the Army Corps of Engineers, from now through the middle of May, we will be closing the HCVB offices in the Raystown Lake Region Visitors Center at 3pm on Mondays. The purpose of this early closure is to give our staff the opportunity to get out and experience the area, its recreational assets, and our member businesses, in order to better serve all of our customers.
With a year-round staff of four employees, we are each taking a turn during the month to plan the outing. For our inaugural Meander, I took on the planning task. Our missi0n: to experience a new trail leading from the Visitors Center to the Allegrippis Trailsstacked-loop system on mountain bikes.
First, some background: The Allegrippis Trails at Raystown Lake opened with much fanfare in May, 2009. The 32-mile trail network was designed by mountain bikers and built through the cooperation of the US Army Corps of Engineers, Appalachian Regional Commission, PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and others. The right-of-way for the trails on the USACE Raystown Lake property is leased by the Friends of Raystown Lake, a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to enhance the environmental and recreational resources of the lands and waters of the Raystown Lake Project. The Friends contracted with the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) Trail Solutions crew to construct the trail network, and augmented the machine work with volunteers to put on the finishing touches. The result is a fast, flowing, fun network of trails that can accommodate riders or hikers of nearly any ability level. The trails were also constructed in a way that minimizes erosion.
Originally, trailhead parking lots were available along Seven Points Road, and Bakers Hollow Road. Both trailheads were shared with the existing Old Loggers Trail. It became evident immediately that additional parking capacity was needed. The Corps approved a plan by the Friends to expand the lot along Bakers Hollow Road, and that helped, but still more parking was needed for a popular trail network that has exceeded all expectations of its ability to attract users. The Friends proposed a few other options for expanding parking, but none of them met with the approval of the Corps until the idea emerged to connect the trails to existing parking at the Visitors Center. This idea proved to be a win-win by connecting the developed part of the Seven Points Recreation Area with the trail network, and requiring minimal clearing of plant and animal habitat when compared to creating a new parking lot.
Fast-forward to May 2012. The 1.3-mile VeeCee Trail opened with the financial support of the Friends, Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau, and Specialized. The trail connects the lower parking lot at the Visitors Center with Dark Hollow Trail by following a path around the end of Seven Points Campground’s Ridge camping loop.
Now, back to yesterday’s Meander… Evan Gross from Rothrock Outfitters met us in the parking lot about 3pm with four Scott mountain bikes. He took the time to adjust the bikes for us, pump the tires, and give us instructions for shifting gears and a few other helpful tips like making sure to put your outside pedal in the down position when negotiating a bend in the trail. Why? Because if the inside pedal is down as you lean into a turn, it is likely to catch the ground and cause an accident. For some of us it was the first time on a bike since we were teenagers (we’re all in our thirties, forties or fifties). We did a few laps around the parking lot to get comfortable with the bikes, shifting, braking, etc., before we crossed Seven Points Road to the trail.
We discussed a few tips we had learned from trail reviews, one of them being not to over-brake on the downhills, because you’ll want that momentum on the uphills. Another tip being almost counter to the first one. These trails will propel you faster than it may seem, and faster than you may be comfortable with – don’t let it get out of hand. The result of these pieces of advice turned out to be that we over-braked on the way out, and wound up pushing the bikes up a few of the hills. And at least twice on the return trip, I let momentum carry me out of my comfort zone resulting in some near-misses with trees.
In the end, we got to experience an asset that we talk to a lot of visitors about, nobody got hurt, and we all had fun. Mission Complete!
Next week it’s Vickie’s turn to plan something for her and Katrina to do. Ed and I both have the day off to head to a Pittsburgh Pirates game with our families.
In the past Susquehannock Campground closed after Labor Day. For 2012 the Friends will keep the Susquehannock Campground open until October 29th. After Labor Day all sites in Susquehannock will be available on a first come first serve basis.
Can you imagine a better way to access the amazing fall foliage?
Every year, more than 20,000 people pass through the Raystown Lake Region Visitors Center inside Raystown Lake’s Seven Points Recreation Area near Hesston, Pennsylvania. The Visitors Center is home to the US Army Corps of Engineers Raystown Lake Project Ranger Staff as well as the Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau. The two organizations work closely together in the building’s operation and programming.
This cooperation was evidenced this morning as Park Furniture of Huntingdon delivered some beautiful lodge furniture as a donation for a new seating area in the main lobby. Park Furniture is a member of HCVB, and has been very generous in providing the furniture, which they intend to rotate as styles change.
In addition to having a great and comfortable place to relax in air conditioning on a hot afternoon, the Visitors Center features exhibits, displays, and public restrooms, as well as one of the best overlooks of Raystown Lake, all free of charge.
The staff of the Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau is always willing to answer questions, give directions and recommendations for things to do, places to eat, places to stay, places to shop, and more at the information counter.
The Visitors Bureau also operates the Raystown Reflections Gift Shoppe, where you can grab a quick snack, Raystown Lake souvenirs, local artwork and crafts, books about local history, other works by local authors, and more.
The Visitors Center is also a trail head for the Hillside Nature Trail and as of May 2012 for the Allegrippis Trails, and soon to be for a loop trail connecting all of the campsites within the Seven Points Campground to the Visitors Center, picnic areas, Seven Points Beach, and Seven Points Marina.
From now through August 14th, every Tuesday morning HCVB hosts a Wake-Up Reception that includes displays and door prizes from area attractions, restaurants, and shops, continental breakfast, and a featured guest. Tuesdays Mid-June through Mid-August 9:30-10:30 AM.
Next time you’re in the area, stop in to the Visitors Center and say “Hi!”
At about 10am this morning, some of the best mountain bike racers in the United States will be converging on the Allegrippis Trails at Raystown Lake for day four of the Trans-Sylvania Epic Mountain Bike Stage Race. This event, in its third year, is a project of The Outdoor Experience Organization, and has become wildly popular in the off-road bicycle racing community.
If you are in the area this morning, and would like to see the action, spectators will be allowed to drive in to sites 1-8 at Susquehannock Campground to watch the race. This is the area where the start-finish line will be, and will also be the midpoint of the 2-lap stage. Two years ago following the Allegrippis stage of the TSE, one racer proclaimed “This was the most fun I’ve ever had racing on two wheels!”
The month of May is both National Tourism Month, and National Bicycling Month. The tourism industry and the bicycling community have formed a fantastic synergy in the Raystown Lake Region of the Alleghenies. In 2009, the area opened its arms to mountain bike enthusiasts with the grand opening of the 32-mile Allegrippis Trails at Raystown Lake, a phenomenal addition to what was already a very popular biking destination for both on and off-road riders.
In the past year, the US Army Corps of Engineers has estimated that the Allegrippis Trails system has attracted over 26,000 visits. Assuming that the trailhead visitation mirrors the normal visitor trends at Raystown Lake, it can be safely estimated that about 9,000 of these visitors travelled more than 50 miles to reach the trailhead along Baker’s Hollow Road, and combined spent a more than $1.3 Million while in Huntingdon County.
The weekend of May 18-20, 2012, more than 1,200 mountain bikers will be converging on the Huntingdon/ Hesston area for Dirt Rag magazine’s DirtFest. This will mark the third year in a row that the magazine has chosen the Allegrippis Trails at Raystown Lake as the location for their signature event.
The following weekend, begins the Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race. The seven-day race is based out of Seven Mountains Boy Scout Camp, and will follow routes through Bald Eagle and Rothrock State Forests, as well as remote starts in R.B. Winter State Park and on the Allegrippis Trails at Raystown Lake. This event, also in its third year, will draw some of the top talent in mountain bike racing to our area for an entire week.
The Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau is asking any and all businesses in the area that have marquees to display a “Welcome Mountain Bikers” message for the weeks of May 15 through June 4. We are also asking drivers to be extra-cautious on area roads, as we will expect to see an increase in bicycle traffic during this time.
The bicycling community has a strong track record of economically supporting the communities that are friendly to their sport. Please join us in welcoming them to Huntingdon County, and inviting them back to ride again!
Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau
Publisher’s Note: This article appeared in the 2010 edition of the Raystown Lake Region/Huntingdon County Visitors Guide. The Allegrippis Trails at Raystown Lake officially opened to the public in May, 2009, and have been wildly popular ever since, receiving national attention from National Geographic Adventure magazine, Men’s Journal magazine, Dirt Rag Magazine, Bicycle Times and many more media outlets. Frank Maguire is now the Mid-Atlantic Representative of the International Mountain Bicycling Association.
by Frank Maguire
If you have been coming to Raystown for years and have wondered what lay in the woods beyond the lakeshore, a new trail system will give you the chance to find out. The Allegrippis Trails offer a variety of experiences as they wind through old oak groves and young pine stands. From lakeside trails to breath taking vistas, the trail system rolls along the contours of the hills, never getting too steep to try. But what is really different about these trails is that they are built to be enjoyed from the saddle of a bike.
The possibility of building trails designed for mountain bikes (but able to be enjoyed by many others) at Raystown Lake first came to light in 2002, when the Army Corps of Engineers and the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) signed a national memorandum of understanding. This MOU set the groundwork for future cooperation between the Corps and IMBA, and specifically mentioned Raystown as a pilot area. With its miles and miles of shoreline slopes, Raystown was the perfect blank canvas to become home to destination mountain bike trails.
“We’re excited to create a model trail system in Central PA.” said Rich Edwards, of IMBA Trail Solutions. “This is a notoriously rocky part of the state. These trails offer plenty of variety and will definitely help expand the riding scene”. What a model trail system means is that beginner, intermediate and advanced trails are all clearly marked, laid out as stacked loops. The beginner (or green) trails are closer to the parking lot, and it’s possible to ride these and get a taste of what the whole system holds. Off of this initial loop are options to extend the ride on intermediate (blue) trails, and further on to the black or advanced trails. The visitor gets to decide how much to bite off, and if they got more then they bargained for, the parking lot is just a short ride away.
But what about the fun? All the planning in the world is wasted if the trail is boring. Allegrippis doesn’t disappoint and as one person put it at the grand opening, “I couldn’t stop giggling.” Evan Gross, President of the Raystown Mountain Bike Association and the trail guru, put it this way. “People have been coming from around the country and from all these different riding backgrounds, and each one gets off the bike smiling”. What causes the excitement is the flow of the trail, the feeling that you are on rails. The way the trail twists and turns, leads you to think that you are on a slot car. The best part about this is that each rider finds their magic speed, so no matter your ability, the sensation is the same.
At the heart of the trails is sustainability, both environmental and social. The trails are designed to meander about the hills and ridges, never running straight up and down the slopes. This means they will survive years of use without eroding, as erosion is a factor of water over time. Bicycle wheels and human feet just speed the process up when the trails aren’t designed right. One of the first things visitors notice about the trails are the grade reversals, the fancy term for the dips and bumps that gives the trails their rollercoaster feel. These act as insurance policies, so that water keeps moving across the trail, rather than down it. The social sustainability part of the trails is the fun. A visitor can decide to try out the trails and not fear getting lost or in over their head. By making trails that can be enjoyed by the largest number of users, and making a unique experience, the trails invite people to get involved and keep coming back. This is good for the community and the region as a whole.
For IMBA, this project has been a great chance to showcase our trail knowledge and provide a much needed destination. Mountain biking is one of the most popular outdoor activities, with some 1.4 million people riding trails at some point every year in Pennsylvania. Raystown was the unique chance to build close to a large portion of the US population in a place that has special natural beauty. Already in its first season, the Allegrippis Trails have been a huge success, with visitors coming from throughout the east and as far away as Hawaii and Scotland to ride.
Evan Gross, after attending Juniata College, decided to call Huntingdon home and be a part of the burgeoning trails community. As President of the Raystown Mountain Bike Association, he is both caretaker and trail ambassador. “It’s amazing to see the pull these trails have on people around the country” Said Evan, when asked what has been his biggest satisfaction with the trails. “It feels like Huntingdon is becoming a real trails town”. If you want the local skinny on how best to enjoy your visit to the Allegrippis Trails, seek out Evan, you’ll be glad you did.