Posts Tagged With: wildlife

Raystown Natural Resources – the foundation of your Raystown Region Experience

By Jeff Krause

Common sights at Raystown Lake include fishermen trolling for stripers, bikers on the Allegrippis trails, sun bathers on the beach and campers sitting by the fire ring.  These recreational activities are shared among the 1.5 million visitors each year who travel to Raystown to escape their busy lives.  Although not often mentioned, there is one common bond between all these recreational activities – the beauty and diverse natural resources that make the Raystown Region special.   After all, would visitors still come if the green forest mountains and clear, fish filled waters were replaced with paved parking lots and unclean, unfishable waters.  We must remember that our natural resources are the foundation for the outdoor recreational experiences we enjoy so much.

SONY DSCSome of the unique offerings at Raystown include a world class two story fishery that provides common warm water fish such as black bass and walleye while also offering trophy size striped bass and lake trout.   Hundreds of annual fishing tournaments and the PA state record striped bass are testaments to the great fishery created by clean water.

The availability of fish have also made Bald eagles common place at Raystown and may be considered the favorite for wildlife viewing.  Numerous nesting locations have produced almost 60 young nestlings in the past 13 years and hot spots below the dam and near the Entriken bridges are good viewing locations from December through March.

The rock outcrops common at Raystown contain important shale barren habitat and great natural beauty.  These barrens which can exceed 100 degrees in early April provide a rare environment that host both plant and animals that only inhabit the extreme conditions.  Observing the evening primrose’s yellow bloom close to the water’s edge is one offering of this unique habitat.

The most dominant natural feature of Raystown is the nearly 18,000 acres of forest land surrounding the lake providing a landscape of mountains, valleys and ridges that surrounds the lake.  The plant and wildlife resources utilizing the adjacent forest and habitat include over 20 species of concern such as the bald eagle, osprey, several species of bats, golden -winged warblers and cerulean warblers.     Visitors may also see a river otter sliding down a bank, a fisher searching for food, a fence lizard scurry down a tree or one of the American chesntut seedlings attempting to re-establish itself from a century of blight.

When you pause to allow your adrenaline levels to drop after that adventure on the Allegrippis,  catching air under your personal watercraft or a ride on the zip lines, take a look around and take note of the supporting natural beauty of the Raystown Region that adds that breathtaking landscape to your experience.

Greenwood Furnace in Winter by Abram Eric Landes,

Greenwood Furnace in Winter by Abram Eric Landes,

About the Author: Jeff Krause is a Wildlife Biologist in his 19th year with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and has spent the past 15 at Raystown Lake.

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

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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Wednesday Walking Tour to Feature River Ecology

HUNTINGDON, PA: The 4 and More Cultural District partnership continues its weekly Wednesday morning walking tours with a walk exploring the ecology of the Juniata River on Wednesday, June 26, 2013. The tour will meet at Merchant’s Park on the corner of Sixth and Penn Streets in downtown Huntingdon at 10:00 AM. The hour-long walking tour will be led by Mike Makufka, executive director of the Juniata Clean Water Partnership. The tour is free of charge, but donations to the Juniata Clean Water Partnership are welcome.
Upcoming Wednesday Walking Tours include:
July 3: A History of Stained Glass
July 10: River Ecology
July 17: History and Architecture
July 24: Public Art
July 31: Civil War History
August 7: A History of Stained Glass
August 14: River Ecology
All tours begin at 10:00 AM at Merchants Park on the corner of Sixth and Penn Streets in downtown Huntingdon.  Ample free parking can be found in the borough parking lot across the street.
About 4 and More: The 4 and More Cultural District partnership is an initiative of Huntingdon Landmarks, Inc. to promote downtown Huntingdon as a hub of cultural learning and creative entrepreneurship, centered on the activities of four non-profit organizations on 4th Street: Huntingdon County Historical Society, Huntingdon County Library, Huntingdon County Arts Council, and Huntingdon Health and Wellness Association. For more information like 4 and More Cultural District on Facebook at
About the Juniata Clean Water Partnership: The Juniata Clean Water Partnership (JCWP) is dedicated to enhance, restore and protect the natural resources of the Juniata River watershed. JCWP is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization based in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. More information can be found at
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The Raystown Lake Region Visitors Center

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.

New seating area in the lobby of the Raystown Lake Region Visitors Center courtesy of Park Furniture of Huntingdon (Photo by Vickie Smith)

New seating area in the lobby of the Raystown Lake Region Visitors Center courtesy of Park Furniture of Huntingdon (Photo by Vickie Smith)

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.

Raystown Lake Region Visitors Center Exhibition Area (photo by Bruce Cramer)

Raystown Lake Region Visitors Center Exhibition Area (photo by Bruce Cramer)

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.

Vickie Smith, HCVB Visitors Center Manager, assisting customers with directions. (Photo by Abram Eric Landes,

Vickie Smith, HCVB Visitors Center Manager, assisting customers with directions. (Photo by Abram Eric Landes,

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.

Raystown Lake Region Visitors Center, Hesston, PA (Photo by Abram Eric Landes,

Raystown Lake Region Visitors Center, Hesston, PA (Photo by Abram Eric Landes,

Next time you’re in the area, stop in to the Visitors Center and say “Hi!”

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

Come out to the Huntingdon County Home and Outdoor Show this weekend!

Huntingdon County Home and Outdoor Show

Huntingdon County Home and Outdoor Show

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And So It Begins…

Today is the official opening of the Seven Points Campground at Raystown Lake, which surrounds our office at the Raystown Lake Region Visitors Center!  The campground is being managed this year for the first time by the Friends of Raystown Lake, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to help promote and protect the environmental and recreational missions of the Army Corps of Engineers Raystown Lake Project by engaging in partnerships to further those missions.  As the recreation mission of the Corps continues to deal with decreases in the federal budget, organizations like the Friends of Raystown Lake are finding creative ways to keep a good thing going at Army Corps projects around the country.  We applaud them for that!

Although we have a good number of campgrounds, vacation homes, B&B’s, and hotels that are open year-round in the Raystown Lake Region, there is a general consensus that April is the “soft opening” of our tourism season.  By the end of April almost all of our places to stay and attractions are open for business (there are a handful that won’t  open until Memorial Day Weekend).  Here are a few reasons why April is a great time to visit the RLR.

  • The Fish! Trout season begins in Huntingdon County on April 14th.  Even if you don’t like to fish, it is always an amazing drive along route 26 between McAlevy’s Fort and  Huntingdon to see the linear tent city that develops beginning Friday, April 13th.  For the local trout stocking schedule, click here.  We have world-class trout streams in the Little Juniata River, Spruce Creek, Standing Stone Creek, Shavers Creek, Great Trough Creek, and Blacklog Creek.  We also have great fishing for species other than trout in Raystown Lake, and on the Juniata River.  Check out our partner site at The Alleghenies for great fishing options in the region.
  • The Blossoms! From yellow forsythia, white apple, soft pink pear, hot pink redbud, lilac, rhododendron, and white mountain laurel, the blossoms on our native trees and shrubs is gorgeous during April (some started blooming with an early warm spell in March).  Spring in our niche of The Alleghenies is equally as beautiful as our autumn leaves.
  • The Birds! Whether you are a novice who marvels at the sight of a bald eagle, or a seasoned ornithologist with a life list of songbirds, we’ve got the place for you!  For a guaranteed look  at raptors, check out Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, where their raptor center features a variety of live birds of prey that due to injury, would not likely survive in the wild.  For a great place to view and hear songbirds, check out the Hillside Nature Trail at Seven Points Recreation Area at Raystown Lake.
  • The Shows! April in Huntingdon County, brings with it a lot of great shows.  The Playhouse at McConnellstown opens its season with Belles in April as Juniata College closes its season with fantastic student performances in theater and music.  April also kicks off a great season of outdoor concerts with the live music at Mayfest of Huntingdon!  Shows also include minor league and NCAA baseball, as well as Penn State Football‘s annual Blue-White Game.

So whatever your passion is this spring, bring it to the Raystown Lake Region, and stop in and see us at the Visitors Center while you’re here!

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The Dam & Eagle Tour

Publishers note: This article first appeared in the 2007 edition of the Raystown Lake Region/Huntingdon County Visitors Guide.  The location of the eagles’ nest visible from the breast of the dam has changed, as the winter of 2010-2011 caused the dead tree supporting it to fall.  The pair of eagles that built that nest is rebuilding in the same area.  This tour is still our most popular driving tour from the Visitors Center.

Old eagles' nest near Raystown Dam, Huntingdon, PA by Vickie Smith

This photo is of the former eagles' nest described in this article near Raystown Dam. The pair of eagles is building a new nest near this location since the tree fell destroying the nest pictured. (Photo by Vickie Smith)

By Pam Prosser

Gather the friends/family for a great tour
Grab Binoculars
Wear half decent walking shoes (easy walking)
Pick up lunch or dinner/ or wine and hors d’oeuvres at your favorite place

The Dam & Eagle Tour is a winning combination of scenic drive, vistas, catching a glimpse of our resident American Bald Eagles home, a short hike through 4 eco-systems and opportunities to picnic and kayak if you wish.

Your adventure starts from the Raystown Lake Visitor Center and will last from 2-4 hours, depending upon how you design the trip for your group. Although my favorite time is first thing in the morning, the scenery and overlooks can be beautiful & romantic for a sunset tour.

Traveling from the Visitors Center to Huntingdon via Piney Ridge Road is truly a scenic drive if you like mountain views, on the right you’ll see Terrace Mountain which parallels Raystown Lake; and to the left you’ll see Tussey Mountain, the towns of McConnellstown, Smithfield and eventually Huntingdon. The ‘ridge road’ has plenty of ‘S’ curves so take it easy, enjoy the view. When you begin to descend the mountain, again, use caution; see if you can guess which set of guard rails gets the most company by locals and visitors.

Smithfield (US Rt 22) and Historic Huntingdon (access from 4th St) are your best bets for grabbing picnic food or arranging for a canoe/kayak delivery service should you choose to paddle the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River while on this tour.

Once you turn onto Snyders Run Road, just follow the signage and cue sheet provided. Note: the gate to the overlooks is open 9AM to dusk from Mid April to Mid December, you are permitted to hike in, just please don’t block the gate. Take some time at the overlooks to observe the actual dam and an incredible mountain view beyond the dam a Ridenour Overlook. Once you’ve enjoyed this, you MUST walk the 300 yards to Hawn’s Overlook, this view was featured on the front cover of the PA Visitors Guide a few years back, it is one of the most photographed places in The Alleghenies. If you want to add romance to this tour, this is the place to be around sunset. You may want to come back to this spot again and again, it is just that magnificent.

From the overlooks, drive a short distance to go over that dam structure you just saw at Ridenour. Once you go over the dam (thinking about how this earthen structure is holding back 8,300 acres of water) and park, look towards the mountain from which you just came (you can see the clearing at Ridenour overlook). With the dam on your right; find 7 while buoys close to the shoreline of the mountain.  Count, from the dam, to the 2nd and 3rd buoy; between these two buoys, move your binoculars ¼ of the way up the mountain to see the nest. It is in a dead tree so you can see it even when foliage is full. Of course, in the spring, one of the pair is in or around the nest, after the eaglets fledge, you’ll see them more often below the dam.

As you drive on Point Road parallel to the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River, be sure to have your eyes (unless you are the driver) glued to the opposite side of the river; between the dam and Corbin’s island, look for sycamore trees; the eagles often perch on the dead snag to fish below the dam.   As an extra bonus, there is often our resident great blue heron in these waters as well.

Options for other activities along Point Road are kayak/canoe/float trip, picnic, and a short nature trail.  Corbin’s Island Recreation Area offers picnic tables and a ramp for those who may wish to float the Raystown Branch of the Juniata. This area also offers picnic tables and rest room facilities.

According to the hiking professionals at the US Army Corp of Engineers, “The Riverside Nature Trail offers a rare opportunity to observe four distinct ecosystem communities during a hike of just ½ mile. You’ll return along the same path making a total journey of one mile through riverine, wetland, successional forest and open field ecosystems.” If you have children, you will want to pick up the trail map and have the kids complete the scavenger hunt; when complete bring to visitor center for a certificate of completion.

For those who plan the float trip, you’ll find the PA Fish and Boat Commission ramp at  “The Point”; continue on Point Road which will bring you back to Rt 22.

After such a great day, time to think about lunch or dinner or shopping to finish out the day; make sure you have our ‘Where to Eat, Where to Shop” brochure which will describe all your opportunities.

Cue Sheet for Dam & Eagle Tour


From the Raystown Lake Visitor Center Mileage
Right from Visitor Center Parking Lot to 7 Points Road


Right on Piney Ridge Road


Right on Crooked Creek RD


Right on US Rt 22


Right on Snyders Run Road


Straight on Henderson Overlook Rd


Right on Henderson  Overlook Rd


Slight left at stop sign to overlooks


Park at Ridenour Overlook park
Walk 300 Yards to Hawn’s Overlook walk
From Parking lot to Right on Stone Bridge Hollow Rd


Right on Stone Bridge Hollow Rd


Right on Point Road driving over the dam


Point Road to Corbin’s Island Recreation Access Area


Point Road to Riverside Nature Trail Parking Area


Point Road to Henderson Hollow & Snyders Run Road


Straight to intersection with US Rt 22


Left on US 22 West to Crooked Creek Rd


Left on Crooked Creek Road to Piney Ridge Road


Left on Piney Ridge Road to 7 Points Road


Left on 7 Points Road to Visitors Center


Categories: 2007 Visitors Guide, Group Travel, Things to Do | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Raystown Lake Announces Road Opening; Early Youth and Regular Spring Gobbler Season

RAYSTOWN LAKE, PA — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Raystown Lake announces the opening of the following access road beginning Saturday, April 21 through Thursday, May 21 for Spring Gobbler hunting.

Wild turkey near Hesston, PA (Photo by Vickie Smith)

Wild turkey photographed near Hesston, PA by Vickie Smith.

The High Germany Road (Gate 28 –Nancy’s Camp Service Road), will be open on April 21 to accommodate the special season for eligible junior hunters and will remain open through May 31 for the regular spring gobbler season.

The Corps will post signs designating hunting and restricted zones within these areas. There is no off-season maintenance on this roadway. The Corps may close this access area depending on weather and road conditions. Vehicle operators will be traveling at their own risk. Hunters participating in hunting activities at the Raystown Lake Project must strictly adhere to all Pennsylvania Game Commission regulations, applicable U.S. Fish and Wildlife regulations, as well as any special regulations posted by the Corps.

For more information on Raystown Lake natural resources and hunting programs, visit the natural resources stewardship link at

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Geocaching at Raystown Lake

by Kathy Jones

Looking for a fun way to get out and take a walk in the woods or for an excuse to get up and get moving?  Why not put some technology to work for you and explore geocaching at Raystown Lake?  Geocaching is a fun, low impact exploration that uses a GPS to find a “treasure” or cache.  The cache stays, but you get to sign in and the caches at the lake are actually activity based. Designed and placed in summer 2010 by Kathy Jones, an education professor at Juniata College, they have been a success among geocaches and now we invite YOU to get into the action.  Hand-held GPS units (with instructions) can be borrowed FREE of charge at the Raystown Lake Region Visitors Center at Seven Points Recreation Area.

The four current caches (a fifth has been lost, but will be replaced) and the GPS units were made possible by a grant from the PA Department of Environmental Protection and placed with the cooperation of the Army Corps of Engineers, Friends of Raystown Lake, Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau and Juniata College.  The activities are kid friendly ways to explore the surrounding environs and include “It’s for the Birds”, “Tracks and Scat”, “Lizards and Snakes”, and “Rabbits and Squirrels”.

Each cache includes a storybook or two, a story written by Jones to introduce the activity and the equipment to carry it out, plus a logbook.  And in some case there may be other treasures inside with “tracker bugs.”  These tracker bugs can be taken and then placed into another geocache (because we know once you start, you won’t be able to stop).  And we ask you to also sign in and log your visit at – it’s free and easy to do. So get out there and enjoy the woods and learn how technology has “invaded” the woods, but is encouraging activity.

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BATFEST This Weekend at Lincoln Caverns

Lincoln Caverns, near Huntingdon, PA, presents its special brand of Valentine Weekend fun with its sixth annualBATFEST on Saturday, February 11, 2012, from 10:00 AM – 3:30 PM.  During over five hours of informative fun, participants develop a deeper appreciation for Pennsylvania’s most fascinating mammals.  This popular family event, for bat enthusiasts of all ages, features a day full of activities, cavern tours, and a pizza lunch.  2012 marks the twenty-first year of bat education at Lincoln Caverns.  The staff looks forward to sharing newbat crafts and games with Batfest visitors.  The group will have the opportunity to participate in the building of a bat house, to be awarded to a lucky attendee through a random drawing at the end of the day.

A special treat at this year’s Batfest will be a visit from Robyn Graboski, of Centre Wildlife Care.  Ms. Graoboski is a popular guest at Lincoln Caverns’ events, as well as many other regional events.  She rehabilitates a wide variety of Pennsylvania animals, includingbats.  Betsy, one of Centre Wildlife Care’s big brown bats, will be a special guest, offeringBatfest participants an up close and personal encounter with one of our furry friends.  The informative program will include information about Pennsylvania’s bats, as well as an update on White Nose Syndrome, the devastating disease that has already caused the death of over six million bats in the Eastern United States.  Lincoln Caverns has participated in education efforts, as well as raising funds for WNS research during the past three seasons.

The highlight of Batfest is always the visit to the caverns, Lincoln Caverns and Whisper Rocks.  The interpretive tours of two spectacular crystal caverns features history, geology, batfacts, and trivia, while offering guests plenty of time for questions and picture taking.  The caverns are a comfortable 50° year round, making them the ideal place to spend a winter afternoon.  Lincoln Caverns’ gift shop features a wide variety of logo items and bat gifts.  Great discounts are included with Batfest tickets.  A portion of each purchase during Batfest will be donated to WNS research.

Advance tickets are required for Batfest and space is limited.  Batfest 2011 is planned for Saturday, February 11, 2012, with a blizzard date of February 18, 2012.  Tickets may be purchased at or by calling 814.643.0268.

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