Posts Tagged With: Rothrock Outfitters

Making the most of circumstance on the Juniata River Sojourn.

Every year, during the second weekend in June, a group of about 50 canoes and kayaks filled with enthusiastic paddlers make their way downstream, enjoying the river, camping, socializing, and participating in an event that has become a fixture in the area. This is the Juniata River Sojourn, one of many River Sojourns throughout PA that promote watershed conservation and stewardship while providing a fun and inspiring experience.

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The first Juniata River Sojourn took place in 2001, and until this year, has been organized by the Juniata Clean Water Partnership. Unfortunately, funding cuts left the non-profit organization unable to take on the financial responsibility and time of organizing the Sojourn this year, but Rothrock Outfitters of Huntingdon stepped in to take over organizational responsibility in addition to their usual guide services they’ve been providing for the event for years.

The annual Sojourn rotates between three different sections of the watershed—the Little Juniata and Frankstown Branch, the Mainstem, and the Raystown Branch, this year’s locale. The plan was to paddle from Everett to Heritage Cove Resort over the course of three days, stopping to camp at specified locations along the way. However, Mother Nature had other plans, as inches of rain dumped on Central Pennsylvania in the days preceding the scheduled event, rendering the Raystown Branch of the Juniata at a level too high to safely lead a group of paddlers of varying experience.

But rather than cancel the event that is important to so many, a new plan was made—paddle the length of Raystown Lake instead, beginning at Heritage Cove and ending up at Snyders Run.

The clouds and rain cleared just in time for the multi-colored flotilla of canoes and kayaks to launch on Saturday morning, and paddlers of all ages, from 7 to 70, began to make their way down the lake, keeping a steady but casual pace while enjoying the scenery, beautiful weather, and the occasional great-blue heron flying by. Farther down the lake, as the channel widened, the great-blues disappeared but we did have an eagle sighting.

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The Sojourn is about more than just paddling. It’s about camaraderie and taking a break from everyday life for a few days, spending evenings by the campfire enjoying each others stories and a variety of entertainment, from live music to educational programs. As long-time Sojourner Mark Fasick says, “Paddling is secondary. It’s all about the people we are with, old and new friends, and great memory-making!”

 

The three-day event ended in the early afternoon on Monday after a short and much-quieter paddle from Susquehannock Campground to Snyders Run, where goodbyes and til-next-years were exchanged.

 

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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.

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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

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.

Categories: HCVB News, Things to Do | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From good idea to great trails – The Allegrippis trails at Raystown Lake

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

Through the forest via Allegrippis by Abram Eric Landes

Through the forest via Allegrippis Trails (Photo by Abram Eric Landes, http://aelandesphotography.com)

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 with his custom fatbike, photo by Abram Eric Landes

Evan Gross with his custom fatbike. (photo by Abram Eric Landes http://aelandesphotography.com)

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.

Categories: 2010 Visitors Guide, Things to Do | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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