Posts Tagged With: Raystown Lake

Trailing the big catch…

One of the Greatest Fishing Experiences in the Northeast:
Bass, muskies, walleye, trout & channel cats
By Sandie Corbin Biddle

SparkyPrice_IMG_0030wwwCPSparky Price has been fishing Raystown waters since he was a boy, knee-high to the champion stripers he’s landed during his career. Owner of Trophy Guide Service for 35 years, Sparky has been asked every question about the lake and its fish hundreds of times. Maybe thousands. He’s lost count. And he knows all the answers.

Recently he pulled out with a boatload of fishermen from Philly and after puttering a few feet into the lake, stopped, reversed, slowed, and, looking very serious, said, “Let’s get this out of the way first.” After an expectant pause, he continued with a smile, “Raystown Lake is the largest lake contained in Pennsylvania. It’s about 30 miles long with 118 miles of shoreline. It’s an average of 100 feet deep, 180 in some places. And the stripers are not the hybrids, they’re the real saltwater species that adapted to fresh water. Now, did I answer all your questions?

They smiled and one man said with a laugh, “That was everything on my list!”

“Then let’s go fishin’,” Sparky said. It was another great day on Raystown Lake.

Easily one of the greatest fishing experiences in the northeast, the lake has more species of fish than most U.S. lakes, including stripers, muskies, lake trout, large- and small-mouth bass, channel cats, walleyes, brown trout, white and yellow perch, crappies, carp, bluegills, and, well, you get the idea.

Sparky still holds the PA record for a striper at 53 lb. 12 oz. Call them stripers, striped bass, or rockfish, they are Raystown’s biggest fishing attraction. Though you’ll find them in other PA lakes, all the state records were caught here. Sparky’s set four state records himself.
Stripers from March to December

Lucky for us, Sparky decided to lend plenty of his wisdom for this article. Read on for a fighting chance at landing your own big ones at Raystown Lake, Pennsylvania.

Stripers can be caught from March through December by targeting your approach.

Early spring casting lures on the shallow flats on the southern end of the lake will produce the year’s first stripers.

By mid-May, the entire lake is active. Live bait such as alwife, shad, trout, and shiners are the baits of choice.

Late May through the summer months, the Seven Points area and north to the dam is the area to fish for stripers.

The easiest place to catch bait is in the Snyder’s Run Boat Launch area, from 3 a.m. until daylight. Sparky says you’ll need a light, a throw net, and a good bait tank.

In the summer, beginners will do best around the dam and mile marker #1.For serious striper fishing, go out on summer nights for the 30- to 50-pounders. This takes down riggers, a vast variety of lures, and an extreme knowledge of the lake, because of all the underwater standing trees.

Muskies & Walleyes & Trout, oh, boy!

Huge stripers, 40-pound muskies, and walleyes over 15 pounds are caught at night every summer.

“The fall is always exciting, from mid-September until Thanksgiving,” Sparky said. “Anything can happen anywhere.” Now it’s all daylight fishing. Bait fishing, trolling deep diving lures, or umbrella rigs will all work.

Sparky’s TGS clients have caught huge muskies more than 50 inches and 40+ pounds – at night in the summer or daytime on the fall. The big ones are caught by trolling. Sparky said, “Fall can be intense!”

Lake trout can be caught all year from Seven Points Marina to the dam. Both downrigger fishing with spoons or bait fishing work well.

The large- and small-mouth bass are Raystown’s structure-oriented fish. Trees, weed beds, and rocky points are all favorable targets. The entire lake is good bass fishing, but the southern half offers easier fishing because of water clarity. Early morning and evening fishing with surface-style bait will work. During the day, he recommends deeper in the underwater weeds and trees.

Panfish and channel cats hang out all through the lake. Mile marker #12 to the southern end of the lake seems to be much easier to fish for these. “To catch a lot of catties, use cut bait and stink baits,” Sparky advises.

The most commonly stocked fish are stripers, lake trout, and walleyes. Along with panfish and catties, they’re all good eating. The bass should be released to replenish the lake for future fishermen.

Quit wishin’ & let’s go fishin’

Raystown hasn’t hosted any large national striper tournaments since the conclusion of the National Striper organization. However, if you like competition fishing, there are a number of local clubs that hold tournaments. Sparky notes that most of the pros and full-time striper guys don’t sign up so everyone “gets a fair chance to compete and have fun.”

Sparky believes that Raystown is one of the best fisheries in the U.S. “But it can also be very humbling!

“I want everyone to enjoy Raystown as I have all my life. May God bless all your visits to beautiful Raystown Lake.”

Sparky Price is owner of Trophy Guide Service, 814-627-5231, http://www.trophyguide.com

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Categories: 2016 Visitors Guide, Outdoor Recreation, Past Visitors Guides, Things to Do, Wildlife | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Terrace Mountain Trail views

The view from the Terrace Mountain Trail at Raystown Lake. Photo by Ed Stoddard, Raystown.org

The view from the Terrace Mountain Trail at Raystown Lake. Photo by Ed Stoddard, Raystown.org

The crisp fall day was beautiful and just perfect for a short hike. It was my first time on this section of the Terrace Mountain Trail — and I was glad that Raystown Park Ranger Gwinn had suggested this part of the trail. Our destination was the overlook directly across from Raystown Lake navigation marker MM7.

Our adventure began with a short boat shuttle from Seven Points to the area near lake navigation marker MM8. (At mile 19 of the Terrace Mountain Trail – TMT19.)

The Terrace Mountain Trail is well-maintained and defined. Photo by Ed Stoddard, Raystown.org

The Terrace Mountain Trail is well-maintained and defined. Photo by Ed Stoddard, Raystown.org

The trail was well-maintained and defined as we left the shoreline and moved upwards towards the TMT20 overlook. The trail follows the contour of the land well — so the ups and downs that are unavoidable on trails in Pennsylvania did not seem so bad. You go up a ways and then switch back to keep climbing on the “bowl” of each hollow. Not so bad. I was hiking with a small group of friends. Our spirits were high and laughter rang through the trees often as we chatted and walked.

We walked about 1 mile in from the shoreline. The overlook was everything that had been promised — a rocky outcropping and open space that gave us nice views to the south of Raystown Lake and across the lake to Susquehannock Campground.

The view from an overlook on Terrace Mountain Trail. Photo by Ed Stoddard, Raystown.org

The view from an overlook on Terrace Mountain Trail. Photo by Ed Stoddard, Raystown.org

The Terrace Mountain Trail is maintained by volunteer efforts on public lands. I have done trail work and appreciated how clear that the trail was that day. We tried to do our part by moving a few small fallen branches along the way. If you are interested in volunteering at Raystown Lake in any capacity — please get in touch with Park Ranger Alicia Palmer at (814) 658-6812. We will all appreciate your efforts.

— Ed Stoddard, Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau, Raystown.org

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Touring the Raystown Lake Region by helicopter

Seven Points Recreation Area at Raystown Lake as viewed from Pine Bottom Aviation helicopter tour. Photo by Michelle McCall, Raystown.org

Seven Points Recreation Area at Raystown Lake as viewed from Pine Bottom Aviation helicopter tour. Photo by Michelle McCall, Raystown.org

I was filled with excitement as I watched the helicopter land. I climbed aboard and adrenaline began pumping through my veins and then…suddenly…we were off the ground! As we rose higher and higher into the sky, I couldn’t help but enjoy the feeling of freedom and awe of the miraculous beauty below. For the first time in my life, I was able to see Raystown Lake just the way the bald eagles which inhabit the area do. What a view!

As we flew, I became speechless taking in all that mother-nature had to offer me on that bright and sunny autumn day. Our 30 minute tour provided by pilot and owner of Pine Bottom Aviation Services, Dan Lipko, showed us many unique features of the Raystown Lake area. We saw Trough Creek State Park, Seven Points Marina, and Lake Raystown Resort to name a few. The leaves on the trees were so magnificent and I felt blessed to be in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania!

Pine Bottom Aviation Services offers aerial tours of the Raystown Lake area in a unique and memorable way. Flights may accommodate up to 3 passengers depending on weights. Pilot and owner, Dan Lipko, has 20+ years’ experience as a helicopter pilot. He is very knowledgeable of the area and offers a fantastic experience you will never forget! For more information on Pine Bottom Aviation Services visit PineBottomAviation.com. For pricing or to book your tour, contact Dan at (814) 793-4548 or dan@pinebottomaviation.com.

–Katrina Hawn, Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau, Raystown.org

Seven Points Marina and the Seven Points Recreation Area at Raystown Lake, PA. Photo by Matt Price, Raystown.org

Seven Points Marina and the Seven Points Recreation Area at Raystown Lake, PA. Photo by Matt Price, Raystown.org

Pine Shelter and the Seven Points Recreation Area at Raystown Lake, PA. Photo by Matt Price, Raystown.org

Pine Shelter and the Seven Points Recreation Area at Raystown Lake, PA. Photo by Matt Price, Raystown.org

Lake Raystown Resort - An RVC Outdoor Destination. Photo by Matt Price, Raystown.org

Lake Raystown Resort – An RVC Outdoor Destination. Photo by Matt Price, Raystown.org

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Hillside Nature Trail at the Raystown Lake Region Visitor Center

An early morning misty view from the Hillside Nature Trail at the Seven Points Recreation Area, Raystown Lake, Pennsylvania. Photo by Ed Stoddard, Raystown.org

An early morning misty view from the Hillside Nature Trail at the Seven Points Recreation Area, Raystown Lake, Pennsylvania. Photo by Ed Stoddard, Raystown.org

The sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky the day I ventured on to the Hillside Nature Trail. The half mile loop was all I needed to clear my thoughts and give me a sense of total escape. As I walked, I witnessed chipmunks scampering across the forest floor, birds singing in the trees, and butterflies fluttering from one flower to the next. The sights I had seen and the small upward grade of the trail was very recipe I needed to feel refreshed and renewed.

The Hillside Nature Trail is a short walk for those who are looking to get out in to nature but want something a little less difficult and rugged. The neatly trimmed path offers stress free walking from overgrown vines, large rocks, and fallen trees. The trail meanders through forest and a bird sanctuary.

The Hillside Nature Trail is located just behind the Raystown Lake Region Visitors Center in the Seven Points Recreation Area of Raystown Lake. Maps of the Hillside Nature Trail can be found inside the lake’s visitor center.

Here is the link for the Hillside Nature Trail at Raystown Lake on the USACE website:
http://bit.ly/HillsideNatureTrailRaystown

— Katrina

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Boating on Raystown Lake and The Perfect Storm?

By Captain Stephen Prosser

There are days on the water at Raystown Lake that I recall a scene in the movie, “The Perfect Storm”.  Captain Billy Tyne is talking to another boat captain, Christine.  It goes like this.

The fog’s just lifting. Throw off your bow line; throw off your stern. You head out to South channel, past Rocky Neck, Ten Pound Island. Past Niles Pond where I skated as a kid. Blow your air-horn and throw a wave to the lighthouse keeper’s kid on Thatcher Island. Then the birds show up: black backs, herring gulls, big dump ducks. The sun hits ya – head North. Open up to 12 – steamin’ now. The guys are busy; you’re in charge. Ya know what? You’re a swordboat captain! Is there anything better in the world?”

Princess_DSC_6022cp (800x538)Some of you know what I am talking about as Raystown Lake has 118 miles of shoreline and is 28 miles long.  Maybe you put in at the southern end where the lake is more like a lazy river winding through the mountains or James Creek where you can go back to the Brumbaugh Homestead and party cove.  We all have our favorite spots like Pee Wee Island or a cove that you and the family always seems to end up at on your weekend adventures.  I have mine but would never tell you about them, you have to find your own.

Raystown has about 10,000 acres of water and there is room for you to discover what we all know about this special place, located only one day’s drive from one third of the entire population of the United States.  Your vacation or get-a-way is waiting to happen with support from Seven Points Marina, voted as the best marina in the country on the northern end and Lake Raystown Resort on the southern end.  The Corps of Engineers at Raystown Lake manages seven (7) boat launches along the length of the 28-mile lake. They are, from the northernmost end to the southernmost end:Snyder’s RunSeven PointsAitchJames Creek,Tatman RunShy Beaver and Weaver Falls.  Check out the Corps of Engineers web site to learn more and to get directions.

Everybody seems to write about their vacation spot as being special, I suppose, and claim it only rains at night and everyone is always happy and the food explodes in your mouth with flavor.  Ok, I get it, everyone wants you to visit.

All I know is that there are times when I throw out the bow and the stern line and head out past the wave break.  Then comes the public beach and I blast the air horn at the kids playing in the water.  We head north toward the dam, push it up to 22 and we’re throwing a wake now.  The sun hits the water and it seems to come alive, dancing in front of us to the sound of the radio playing softly in the background.  We pass jet ski’s and cruisers, and everyone seems to be enjoying the day.  Water people always seem to be at their best when they are on the water again.  Way back in the no wake zones people either tie up together with friends or stay by themselves.  There is plenty of room for everyone.I ask the mate for another beverage and our guests are busy enjoying their first glimpse of the Lake aboard the tour boat, The Princess.  Ya know what?  I’m a tour boat captain on Raystown Lake.  Is there anything better in the world?

Princess Lake Cruiser on Raystown Lake by Kevin Mills, picturesbykevin.com

Princess Lake Cruiser on Raystown Lake by Kevin Mills, picturesbykevin.com

About the author:  For the past five years Steve has been the Captain of the tour boat, The Princess that docks at Seven Points Marina.  He is a United States Coast Guard licensed captain, 100 tons.  Although he has a BA in religious studies, along with a masters degree in Education and another masters degree in Business, water is his first love.

Categories: 2012 Visitors Guide, Things to Do | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Bald eagles at home on Raystown Lake.

By Ranger Tara Whitsel

Freedom. Strength. Resilience. The Bald Eagle represents a multitude of things. Since the mid 1970’s Bald Eagles have been making a slow and steady comeback from the effects of habitat loss and DDT pesticide use. Fortunately, Raystown Lake has played witness to that success with populations steadily increasing around the lake.

2014 Eagle Map

The staff at Raystown Lake observed and began monitoring the first known eagle nest on the lake in 1999 near the Raystown Dam. To date, five nests have been located around the lake in addition to a steady migratory population. Each year the Natural Resource Staff at Raystown Lake implements a monitoring program to support the Pennsylvania Game Commission in their efforts to monitor and track bald eagle nesting within the Commonwealth. Although the bald eagle was removed from the Federal Endangered Species List, it remains federally protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Protection Treaty Act. In addition, the bald eagle remains on the threatened species list in Pennsylvania and therefore protected under the Game and Wildlife Code.

Monitoring efforts begin in January when the Corps joined the PA Game Commission on a state-wide mid winter bald eagle survey. The purpose of this survey is to count the number of eagles across the state during a very specific period of time. The first survey was conducted on Raystown in 1990 with only 2 eagles being observed and while that number fluctuates each year due to a variety of lake and surveying conditions we have observed as many as 19 eagles during a single event, which includes both adults and juveniles. The Raystown Staff continues monitoring efforts over the course of the next 6 months to determine which nests will be utilized by a pair during the breeding season and the number of successful fledglings produced in each nest.

Since nesting was first observed at Raystown Lake, 2013 marked the fledging of the 70th at Raystown. Across the state, eagles typically begin nesting activities which includes cleaning and enlarging their nest during January and February. A female typically lays between one to three eggs that hatch sometime in late March or early April, which is approximately 35 days after incubation has begun. Both adults will tend to and feed the young until they leave the nest, or fledge, which at Raystown occurs on or around the fourth of July. The juveniles will remain near the nest throughout the fall observing other eagles and practicing their hunting skills.

To spot the eagles look skyward or toward shoreline trees with open branches. Generally, adult eagles are quite easy to spot with their signature white head and tail. Juvenile eagles have proven to be a slightly greater challenge to properly identify. While juvenile eagles are still significantly large birds; they retain brown feathers over the entire body until they are approximately four years of age and typically demonstrate the full white head and tail by age five.

If you are looking for the nests, the easiest nest to view is located across the lake from the public access area of the Raystown Dam. Many are surprised however, to find that the nest they are currently observing is not the original nest discovered in 1999. While we strongly believe it to be the same pair of eagles, the nest has actually been replaced three times, as each prior nest has lasted only a few years before either the tree in which the nest was located fell during winter or spring storms or the nest has fallen out of the tree due to its increase in size each year. After each loss of nest, the pair has usually rebuilt within a 100 yards of the previous nest site and generally within a few weeks if the start of breading season was near. The remaining four nests require a boat or a very dedicated and strenuous hike for observation.

We encourage you to take the challenge and visit Raystown for the opportunity to observe these powerful yet graceful birds of prey as they hunt and tend to their young. We do ask that you observe posted restrictions and not encroach upon the nests as we take each precaution to encourage successful nesting and development of Raystown’s bald eagles.

About the author: Ranger Tara Whitsel has been a Park Ranger/Natural Resource Specialist for the Raystown Lake Project since 2003 where she is responsible for ensuring the protection of the projects natural resources. Prior to joining the Raystown team, Tara began her career with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a seasonal Park Ranger at Blue Marsh Lake, Philadelphia District in 2000. Tara is a 2003 graduate of Kutztown University with a B.S. in Environmental Biology. Tara currently resides in Southern Huntingdon County with her family. Together they enjoy all types of outdoor activities.

EagleBest_MeganPhotography_EDitedWWW

Photo by Megan Photography  http://www.meganphotography.net

 

Eagle Update: This year, there have been no confirmed juveniles in the Raystown nests. By this time of year, they can usually be seen in the limbs surrounding the nest, exercising and getting their wings ready to fly, but none of that behavior has been observed. We speculate that this is because of the extended winter and ice cover on the lake. However, adult eagles are still in the area. 

This is the first year that the Shy Beaver nesting pair has not been successful.  Monitoring will continue, and hopefully next spring will be once again fruitful for the eagles of Raystown. 

 

 

 

Categories: 2014 Visitors Guide, History, Outdoor Recreation, Wildlife | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Go outside, get happy!

By Bobbi Hicks

In a world where people are too often bogged down with responding to emails and jumping on their next conference call, it’s refreshing to know that retreats like the Raystown Lake Region exist. As a transplant to Huntingdon County, I quickly found that the natural beauty of the area makes it nearly impossible not to close your laptop, go outside, and get happy.

Matt_Raystown_Paddleboard_ecsDSC_6866www

If getting outside is your goal, there are a plethora of things to fill your time and your spirits. I’m a firm believer that a family that paddles together stays together. That said, if you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend renting a few Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) from Rothrock Outfitters, Seven Points Marina or the Lake Raystown Resort, Lodge and Conference Center and getting out on the water for a sunset paddle. The views are breathtaking and the time that you get to spend unplugged with your family is invaluable. For Yogis visiting the lake, there’s nothing like performing sun salutations on a SUP as the sun peeks over the mountains to take your practice to the next level.

For those visiting the area that prefer to stay on dry land, taking a walk, run, or bike ride on the 2.5 mile Greenside Pathway is an enjoyable way to spend the afternoon. The pathway connects 19 different recreation facilities and is composed from 100% recycled tires, which means that your run, ride, or walk will not only be convenient, but comfortable.  Win-win, right?!

If getting out of your comfort zone and into the woods is more your speed, then grab your GPS and take to the trails and surrounding area for a Geocaching adventure! For those unfamiliar with Geocaching, it is basically a real life, outdoor treasure hunt. Several caches have been placed by Juniata College in partnership with the Corps of Engineers around the Seven Points Recreation Area. Each site has a set of GPS coordinates that indicate where a local geocache is hidden. Using a GPS enabled device, the adventurer navigates themself to the coordinates and then searches the site for a hidden Geocache (container). A list of local Geocaches can be found at http://www.geocaching.com.

When you’re visiting the Raystown Lake Region, go outside, explore all that our region has to offer, and get happy. Tour the local waters by SUP, keep it low-key with a stroll along the Greenside Pathway, and go adventuring for Geocaches. The biggest risk that you’ll take is the possibility that you may never want to leave.

Bobbi and a group of friends enjoy an evening of paddleboarding on Raystown Lake. Photo by Helena Kotala.

Bobbi and a group of friends enjoy an evening of paddleboarding on Raystown Lake.

 

About the author: Trailblazer. Raconteur. Adrenaline junkie… “Carpe Diem!” Bobbi is a mom, wife, and Juniata College graduate currently living life to the fullest in Huntingdon County, PA. 

Categories: 2014 Visitors Guide, Lifestyle, Outdoor Recreation | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Raystown not enrolled in DMAP for the 2013-14 hunting season

RAYSTOWN LAKE, Pa. —The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Raystown Lake announces that they will not be enrolled in the Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) for the 2013­2014 hunting season. The DMAP is administered by the PA Game Commission and allows additional deer harvest tags in designated areas to allow for greater forest regeneration. DMAP coupons will not be available for the eastern side of Raystown Lake also known as Area 89.

Field observations show the objectives of establishing adequate regeneration throughout Raystown’s forests has been successful. Deer populations are constantly changing so the Corps will continue to closely monitor Raystown’s deer herd using thermal infrared data and vegetative browse surveys to determine DMAP applicability for future seasons.

 This decision also supports the intent of the PA Game Commission’s Executive Order regarding confirmed cases of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) found in Blair and Bedford Counties. CWD Disease Mgmt Areas #2 (DMA 2) includes all Corps owned property on the western side of Raystown Lake. Hunters should become familiar with the Executive Order’s restrictions for Disease Management Areas (DMA) such as prohibitions on feeding of deer, the use of urine­based lures while hunting, and transportation of specific cervid carcass parts out of the DMA. The potential for a decrease in deer populations from CWD exists so the Corps sees no need to further decrease the deer populations at Raystown until further results are found over the 2013­2014 hunting season.

 All authorized hunting locations at Raystown Lake will continue to be open to normal hunting activities and hunters may continue to harvest does using a 4A tag and bucks using their antlered tag.

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Corps confirms Raystown Lake Dam, Pa., is prepared to perform during storms

Raystown Dam courtesy US Army Corps of Engineers

Aerial photo of Raystown Dam from the US Army Corps of Engineers website.

BALTIMORE – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has notified emergency management officials that the dam at Raystown Lake in Huntingdon, Pa., is prepared to perform during the storms connected to Hurricane Sandy.

The dam and reservoir has been functioning as designed – to store significant volumes of water and thus reducing downstream flows and delaying possible flooding over the next few days. The project is monitored daily and there are no indications of any problems. The dam will continue to function as designed and is prepared to hold the maximum amount of water if needed.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began construction on the dam in 1962 and it was completed in 1988 at a cost of $77 million. The project has prevented $269,616 million of flood damages through fiscal year 2011. The dam protects all areas along the Juniata River downstream of Huntingdon.

The project is an earth and rockfill structure with a maximum height of 225 feet and a top length of 1,700 feet. There is a two-bay gated spillway with two tainter gates, 45 feet wide by 45 feet high, to control flood flows. The overflow section is cut through rock at elevation 812 mean sea level, and has crest length of 1,630 feet in the spur of Terrace Mountain. The spillway and overflow section
have a combined discharge capacity of 301,000 cubic feet per second. The project encompasses 29,700 total acres. On April 3, 1993 the lake reached its pool of record at elevation 802.89 NGVD which was 67% of its storage capacity.

For current information on Baltimore District dams and reservoirs, go to their home page, www.nab.usace.army.mil.

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Monday Meander Volume I – VeeCee Trail on the Allegrippis

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.

The VeeCee Trail on the Allegrippis Trails at Raystown Lake

The VeeCee Trail connects the Raystown Lake Region Visitors Center in the Seven Points Recreation Area to the stacked-loop Allegrippis Trails.

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.

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