When your region is defined by an 8,300-acre lake, chances are it thrives on outdoor recreation.
That is certainly the case in Huntingdon County in central Pennsylvania, a three-hour drive from Washington, D.C. Raystown Lake, a man-made lake completed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1973, provides countless opportunities for boating, fishing, and swimming. The lake is punctuated by pristine, unpopulated shorelines, making it a place where you truly can get away from it all.
While boaters take to the waters of Raystown Lake year-round, springtime is when the boating season starts up in earnest.
Chances are, people who come to the Raystown Lake region are going to spend time out on the water, said Nancy Glantz, owner of Four Seasons at Raystown Lake. “Raystown Lake is lovely,” she said. “It’s surrounded by mountains.”
Most of the visitors who come to stay at Four Seasons come to put a boat in the water, Glantz said. Four Seasons is located on the southeastern shore of the lake, and features 50 camping sites and three cabins. The property opens to campers May 1.
Raystown Lake has a long history of fishing. In fact, according to local lore, two men fishing on the Juniata River back in the early 1900s thought the area would be a good spot for a hydroelectric dam. Eventually, one was created to supply power. But, the current Raystown Lake was created by the Army Corps to provide flood control in the Susquehanna River watershed. Recreation blossomed with it, including a thriving striped bass and catfish population.
“This area is all about the lake,” Glantz said. “Fishing is huge here. We are known for our bass fishing.”
Regardless of whether visitors come to boat, fish, or swim, the Raystown Lake region draws families looking for a place to unwind. “A lot of people like to spend time and relax around the campfire,” Glantz said.
Because so much of the shoreline of Raystown Lake is undeveloped, visitors can find quiet and seclusion. The campground at Bitter Goose Lodge has a mountain feel, according to owner Randy Hollingshead.
“We truly have a forest setting here,” he said. “We are 5 miles from the lake, but we are surrounded by trees. It’s peaceful and quiet.”
Bitter Goose, which features a lodge and several cabins, draws visitors from across the Mid-Atlantic region, many of whom are looking for an adventure-packed weekend, said Hollingshead.
Off the lake, hiking and mountain biking are two popular activities. Several years ago, community volunteers worked with the International Mountain Biking Association to build the Allegrippis Trails system on the shores of Raystown Lake. It’s quickly become a destination for mountain bikers in the Mid-Atlantic region.
The 30-mile system of trails gives mountain bikers, from the novice to hardcore riders, the chance to tackle a wide range of wilderness trails. The system is designed as a stacked loop, giving nearly endless possibilities for short or long rides. Each of the trails is rated, making Allegrippis a good place for new riders to test out their skills or seasoned vets to spend all day in the saddle.
Recently, Raystown added to its reputation as a mountain biking destination with the creation of the Raystown Mountain Bike Skills Park. The 5-acre park, located at the Seven Points Recreation Area, is a place where riders can test out their skills on obstacles such as earthen berms and bridges before ever getting on to the trail system. The park, while located on corps land, is maintained by volunteers through a unique partnership.
Insider tip: Hiking can be found at several state parks in the Raystown Lake region, including Trough Creek State Park. One of the popular hikes includes a short but steep hike to Balanced Rock, one of the park’s many interesting features.
While the largest attraction in Huntingdon County is man-made, there are plenty of natural wonders. There are several ways that intrepid explorers can get to see what’s beneath Huntingdon County. Commercial caves such as Lincoln Caverns and Penn’s Cave are open to visitors, and Penn’s Cave also features a wildlife park.
Huntingdon Co. Tourism: raystown.org