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Raystown Lake is the perfect place to vacation for those with a sense of adventure. This 30-mile recreational lake covering 8300 acres and offering over 110 miles of mostly uninhabited shoreline is the largest lake entirely within the state of Pennsylvania and the perfect place for your next getaway.

Dusk at Raystown Lake

**Disclaimer: This was a hosted stay, however, all opinions are my own. I strive to provide my readers with my most authentic sentiments.

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Dubbed the “Crown Jewel of Pennsylvania, ”this beautiful lake is surrounded by mountains, state forests, and charming small towns as well as lakeside resorts and summer cottages. If you’re looking for a lakeside vacation with tons of fun things to do that will satisfy the entire family, look no further than Raystown Lake. This summer destination offers a plethora of activities. Whether it is camping, biking, hiking, time on the water, or sightseeing you desire you will find it in Huntingdon County. 

Fall colors and view of Lake Raystown Marina

Where is Raystown Lake

Raystown Lake located in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania is approximately 3-½ hours from Philadelphia, Baltimore, and DC. And just over 2-1/2 hours from Pittsburgh. Centrally located within the state, it is easily accessible by car and an easy drive from regional airports in Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and even DC and Baltimore. Additionally, Huntingdon is a stop on Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian Line.

The nearest town is Huntingdon and the closest city is Altoona, PA. And it is just one hour from State College, the home of Penn State University and the Nittany Lions.

Raystown Lake History

Raystown Lake is a large man-made reservoir located in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. The present-day lake was created in the mid-20th century as part of a flood control project by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

But before that, there was a small lake built by a local family, the Simpsons, to produce hydroelectric power. The lake was created by damming the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River. The original shallow lake was completed in 1911 and was only about a quarter of the size of the modern-day Raystown Reservoir. However, the topography of the areas created a natural runoff into the gulley leading to major flooding in 1936 that devastated the Juniata & Susquehannock River Valleys. This laid bare the need for a new and larger dam.  The Raystown Dam and Lake you see today was.

Rocky shoreline of Raystown Lake

Authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1962, construction on the Raystown Dam began in the early 1960s. The dam was built across the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River, creating a large reservoir that spans over 8,000 acres and has over 110 miles of shoreline. At its deepest point, the lake is over 200 feet deep. Completed in 1973, the Raystown Dam was dedicated in 1974 by President Gerald Ford

But construction of the 1700-foot long and 225-foot high dam and the creation of the lake had a significant impact. The flooding caused by the dam submerged several small towns and communities and forced many residents to relocate.

View of Raystown Lake from the Allegrippis Trails

Nevertheless, Raystown Lake has become a popular destination for outdoor recreation. The lake and surrounding area offer opportunities for boating, fishing, camping, hiking, and more. The lake is also a popular spot for swimming, water skiing, and other water sports during the summer months.

Over the years, Raystown Lake has become an important economic driver for the Huntingdon County area. The lake and surrounding region attract visitors from all over the country, and the local tourism industry has grown significantly in recent years.

Rock ledge in  cove at Raystown Lake

Today, Raystown Lake is a beloved destination for locals and tourists alike and continues to play an important role in the economy and culture of the Huntingdon County region.

Enjoy Raystown Lake and the Seven Points Recreation Area

Seven Points Marina Recreation Area is the central hub for many activities at Raystown Lake. Here you will find tons of fun activities both on and off the water. 

Boating and Other Water Activities

Boating is a favorite pastime on this 30-mile-long recreational lake. There are no restrictions on horsepower or size of boat so you will often see vessels towing wakeboarders, water skiers, kneeboarders, and tubes. Jet skis are permitted as well. Plus you will be sharing the waterways with unpowered vessels such as kayaks and canoes. Please keep all of this in mind when out on this extremely busy body of water. Safety First!

Boats at Seven Points Marina

If you are bringing your own boat, you will find boat launches at Snyder’s Run, Aitch, James Creek, Tatman Run, Shy Beaver, and Weaver Falls. You will want to arrive at the boat launch as early as possible to get your boat in the water without a wait and claim your parking spot.

From Memorial Day through Labor Day you can get boat launch status reports from the  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Raystown Lake Facebook page.

Rent a Pontoon Boat

These are not your grandfather’s pontoon boats. We’re talking about high-speed boats ranging from 90 to 200 hp. These boats can accommodate up to 12 people (except the 90hp which is limited to 8). Some boats are equipped with slides and most include tubes and water skis. 

Pontoon Boat at Seven Points Marina

A pontoon boat provides all-day fun and excitement on the water. But if you are more interested in casting a line and doing a bit of fishing or cruising around the lake in style you can do that too.  

Rentals are available from Seven Points Marina.

Kayak on the Lake

Bring your own kayak or rent one from Seven Points Marina, where you can rent one by the hour or the day.

Spend the day paddling around this massive lake. The great thing about kayaks is they allow you to tuck into private coves and places the big boats can’t reach.  Additionally, with a kayak you don’t need to find a boat launch and wait your turn. 

Kayaker near Seven Points Marina on Raystown Lake

Spend a Day at the Beach

Raystown Lake has two public beaches: A large swimming area near Seven Points Marina and a smaller one at Tatman Run Recreation Area.

Seven Points Beach

Seven Points Beach, located near Seven Points Marina, is a great spot for family fun in the sun. This beach is comprised of two smaller swimming areas. The larger of the two beaches has a concrete bottom and deeper water. In the same area tucked within a cove, you’ll find the second and smaller beach with a sand bottom swimming area often called, “kiddie” beach.

If coming by boat, the beach is located on the lake’s western shore near the Seven Points Marina between mile markers 8 and 9. For your convenience, you will find a courtesy dock (30-minute max.) and mooring post available for day use.

View of the beach from Raystown Lake

At this waterfront recreation area, you’ll find water trampolines, a playground, and sandboxes for the kids. Amenities include bathroom facilities with flush toilets, changing houses with showers, and a full-service concession stand.

The hillside surrounding the beach offers both open grassy areas and shaded spots. You’ll find picnic areas complete with tables and grills, along with a larger picnic shelter (reserve Oak Shelter) for gatherings. These shelters are handicap accessible, have 20 amp electrical service, water hook up, and pets are permitted. 

The recreation area is open from dawn to dusk from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Tatman Run Recreation Area

Tatman Run Recreation Area is the perfect place to spend a summer day. The recreation area resides on the south end of the lake within a cozy cove on the lake’s eastern shore.

A small sand beach with a designated swimming area awaits visitors. Just beyond the beach, an open grassy area with gentle terraces provides an inviting space to relax. While shade is limited along the shoreline, a picnic shelter provides a delightful spot for outdoor gatherings in any weather.

View from Raystwon Lake

Tatman Run Beach offers various amenities, including vault toilet restrooms, picnic tables, potable water, and grills. A changing house is available for added convenience. Additionally, a playground and a nearby boat launch enhance the recreational options.

In partnership with SeaTow, a newly installed lifejacket loaner station allows beach-goers to borrow lifejackets, for free!

Fishing on Raystown Lake

Bring your fishing pole and get ready to cast your line because Raystown Lake is well-known for its bass fishing. Whether you fish from a boat or the shores, you’re in for a treat. 

Raystown Lake is known as the Freshwater Striped Bass Capital of the Northeast United States, the current Pennsylvania record for freshwater striped bass was caught here in 1994. It was a  53 pounds 12-ounce behemoth.  

Boats at Seven Points Marina at Raystwon Lake

In addition to striped bass, anglers also have an opportunity to reel in Catfish, Carp, large and smallmouth Bass, Walleye, Muskellunge, Trout (Lake, Brown, and Rainbow), Atlantic Salmon, Perch, Smelt, Crappy, and Bluegill.

Several companies offer guide services that will take you to the best spots for fishing. Angry Musky Outfitters departs from Lake Raystown Resort’s Marina and offers daily charter fishing trips for up to four persons for five hours. They also have evening excursions. 

Fish Hatchery at Raystown Lake

If you want to learn about the origins of the bass you are catching in the lake, visit the Pennsylvania Striped Bass Association Fish Hatchery. You will learn what it takes to keep the lake stocked since these fish can not breed naturally here. 

Explore the Raystown Lake Visitor Center

The Raystown Visitor Center is more than just a place to gather brochures from a kiosk. It is the office of the Army Corps of Engineers and the home of the Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau. As such, you will find informative staff who are well-versed in the entire region.  

Visitor Center at Raystwon Lake

When you arrive at the Visitors Center you are greeted by stunning perennial gardens that attract pollinators. Within the center, you will find educational and interesting interactive exhibits where you can learn about local flora and fauna and more. 

Step outside onto the observation deck to take in some outstanding views of the lake. The platform overlooks Seven Points Marina and provides a perfect spot to grab a photo.

View of Seven Points Marina from the Visitors Center at Raystown Lake

You will also find clean restrooms and the Raystown Reflections Gift Shoppe. Here you can pick up a snack or souvenir including local products such as handiworks from local artisans, honey, and books by local authors.

Try the Raystown Lake Skills Park

In 2016, the Raystown Mountain Bike Skills Park opened across from the Visitor Center. The skills park consists of 2 acres of skill features including berms, natural and fabricated features, and some small, vertical drops. here are multiple trails to accommodate riders of various skill levels. It’s a nice complement to the Allegrippis Trails. And it is super fun!!

Raystown Lake Skills Park

Take a Walk on the Greenside Path

Around the visitor center, you can walk the Greenside Path, a 2.5-mile rubberized pathway made from recycled tires. The walkway loops around  Seven Points Recreation Area and past the beach.

Play Disc Golf

Disc Golf may be new to you, but it’s been around since the 1970s and has grown in popularity recently. It’s estimated that over a half million Americans play regularly. And it is a recognized sport governed by the Professional Disc Golf Association.

Now you can play during your stay on the lake. In early 2022, Pine 9, a 9-hole disc golf course, opened near the Visitor Center. And in Spring 2023, Ravine 18 (18 holes) opened, near the Skills Park in spring 2023. 

Disc golf

Disc golf follows rules similar to regular golf but rather than hitting a ball with a club, players aim to toss a disc into an elevated metal basket. Players start at a designated tee and move down the fairway toward that target. Like golf, the goal is to play each “hole” in the fewest “strokes” possible. The player with the lowest score wins. 

Players can rent or purchase discs at the Raystown Lake Visitor Center.

Hike the Old Loggers Trail

The Old Loggers Trail is a popular hiking trail that traverses old logging roads, farm roads, and deer paths. This 4.5-mile trail is accessed near the entrance to Seven Points Campground or just before the Susquehannock Campground entrance.

Trail Raystown Lake in Fall

The 500 acres surrounding the path are managed through a partnership between the Ruffed Grouse Society and the Army Corps of Engineers. The alliance is meant to improve the habitat for wildlife species including, the ruffed grouse, woodcock, and others.

In addition to typical trail maintenance, management of the area includes wetland enhancements and the installation of trailside exhibits and tree identification signs. Its purpose is to demonstrate management techniques being duplicated and used on a larger scale throughout the Raystown Lake Project.

Stay on Raystown Lake

If you are going to vacation at Raystown Lake, you may as well stay on the lake. A stay on the lake can come in a variety of accommodation types, from primitive camping to a lakeside villa and everything in between. Here are just a few of your options.

Stay on a houseboat

Make the most of your stay on the lake by renting a houseboat. Seven Points Marina offers houseboat rentals that accommodate from 4 to 10 people. Each boat is equipped with a gas grill, patio furniture, a large cooler, as well as heat and air conditioning. Some even have hot tubs and slides. You will find a fully equipped kitchen, a full bath with a shower, and fresh and wastewater-holding tanks as well as all required safety equipment.

Houseboats at Seven Points Marina

And we’re not talking about staying docked at the marina either. Pilot your vessel to a secluded cove and rope off to swim, fish, or relax in the tranquility. Stay out on the water for the day or the week.  

Camping on Raystown Lake

Camping at Raystwon Lake is an incredibly popular activity. So much so that you often need to reserve your spot months in advance. If plan to camp, don’t delay making a reservation, especially for holiday weekends or you will likely miss out. Also, note that peak weekends often require minimum stays.

Nancy’s Boat to Shore Campground

If you are looking to get away from it all then Nancy’s Boat to Shore Campground might be perfect for you. This 50-site tent camping-only campground situated near the James Creek and Aitch Boat Launchs is accessible only by boat from the water. 

These are primitive camping facilities with no potable water or electric hook-up. There are vaulted toilets available but not showers and outdoor shower tents are not permitted.

Tent Camping

There are 17 waterfront sites with the others spread among both grassy and wooded areas. Two tents per site are permitted. Each site offers a picnic table and campfire ring. According to ratings on Recreation.gov internet access is available but past campers report that it’s spotty.

Open April 1 thru Oct. 30 (Reservations required) with a 14-day maximum stay

Rate: $15/site

Seven Points Campground

Seven Points Campground offers 261 single-family campsites situated around six camping loops. 250 sites accommodate RV hook-ups and permit a maximum of 2 camping units per campsite, one of which must be a tent. For larger groups, group camping sites are available.  

Each loop provides restrooms, showers (outdoor shower tents are not permitted), accessible drinking water, and playgrounds. Plus, you will find coin-operated laundry facilities within the campground.

The campsites are spacious and equipped with a picnic table, fire grill, lantern hanger, and tent pads. Many sites offer electric hookups. Internet service is available however, users report that it is spotty.

RVing

The Greenside Pathway connects the campgrounds to all of the recreational facilities within Seven Points. For added convenience, you’ll find groceries, bait, tackle, and gas within a mile of the sites. 

Open April 1 thru Oct. 30 (Reservations required) with a 14-day maximum stay

Rate: Sites range from $28 to $46 depending on location, hook-up type, and improvements. The rate for group sites is $200.

For stays that include a Friday or Saturday night, a minimum of two nights is required when making a booking. During three-day holiday weekends, you must book at least three nights for any stay that includes a Friday or Saturday night. 

Susquehannock Campground

This primitive campground has over 60 campsites, including more than 20 tent-only sites. Many are waterfront, while others are just a short walk to the water’s edge. Each campsite allows a maximum of 2 camping units. At least one unit must be a tent.

There are no electric hookups available at the Susquehannock Campground. However, vault toilet restrooms and drinking water are provided. For showers, campers can use the ones available at nearby Seven Points Beach. Outdoor shower tents are prohibited. Coin-operated laundry facilities are available at the Seven Points Campground.

Hammock camping

Internet access is available. Based on ratings from recreation.gov, this campground has the most reliable service with users rating it as “good.”

Conveniently, the campground is located only three miles away from groceries, a bait shop, a gas station, and a full-service marina. 

Open April 1 thru Oct. 30 (Reservations required) with a 14-day maximum stay

Rate: Sites range from $20 to $32 depending on location and improvements. 

For stays that include a Friday or Saturday night, a minimum of two nights is required when making a booking. During three-day holiday weekends, you must book at least three nights for any stay that includes a Friday or Saturday night.

IMPORTANT REMINDERS FOR ALL CAMPERS

Campfires are an enjoyable part of the camping experience but to protect Pennsylvania from exotic invasive species please buy and burn only locally cut firewood. If you have brought firewood from another area, BURN IT. Do not leave it. Do not take it with you.

Liquid waste, such as gray water, must be disposed of at the Seven Points Dump Station.

Stay and Play at Lake Raystown Resort

Lake Raystown Resort is a vacation resort offering a range of accommodations from tent camping to luxury villas. The resort offers a range of amenities including private beaches, boat rentals, a full-service marina with slip rentals, boat launches, eateries, and its own waterpark. 

Lodge at Lake Raystown Resort

Wildriver Waterpark offers fun for the entire family. Float along on the White Water Inner Tube Ride, or get your heart pumping with a whoosh down one of the park’s two 380-foot twisting slides. The park also features a heated swimming pool and the Children’s Splash and Play Pool!

Plan a Winter Fireplace Getaway

While the Raystown Lake region of Pennsylvania is best known as a summer resort, winter is also a lovely time to visit. Raystown Lake is the perfect destination to unplug and unwind. Imagine snuggling beside a fireplace while gazing out on a frozen Raystown Lake.

Plan a family or friends’ trip with a Winter Fireplace Getaway. Select from one of the participating lodging facilities and book a stay between January-March. This package is for groups of 4-20 people. Groups can choose from several experiences included with their stays such as coffee cupping, a local farm experience, Lincoln Cavern Blacklight Adventure, and more.

Fireplace

Take in the View from Ridenour and Hawn’s Overlook

Hawn’s Overlook and Ridenour Overlook are situated at the end of Henderson Overlook Road. The road’s name implies that there is a place called Henderson Overlook. There isn’t.

At the road’s end, you’ll find an ample gravel parking lot with two designated handicap-accessible spaces, complete with van accessibility. The Ridenour Overlook, located within the first 0.1 miles of the trail, is the most accessible portion. The entire trail is considered to have a mostly gentle grade of 5% or less. However, beyond the initial section, the surface type and grade may require all-terrain tires or motorized equipment for optimal accessibility.

View from Hawn's Overlook

Ridenour Overlook is conveniently located adjacent to the parking area, offering wheelchair accessibility and a north-facing view. It showcases the Raystown Lake Dam, the northern part of Raystown Lake, and even the Raystown Dam Pagoda Overlook.

Hawn’s Overlook provides a breathtaking panoramic view facing south and southwest. It offers an unobstructed vantage point over the valley below, showcasing Raystown Lake with its islands and peninsulas.  When you reach the overlook you’ll find a stone pillar fence, information signage, and a single bench. Take a moment to enjoy the view and the solitude.

View from Hawn's Overlook

The trail to Hawn’s Overlook is a 0.5-mile out-and-back route. This trail can be accessed from stairs in the parking lot or via a flat path from Ridenour Overlook. The trail itself is typically at least 6 feet wide and features a gravel surface. It passes through a scenic forest and involves a slight descent of about 50 feet,

The trail is considered easy and takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. Along the route, there are benches available for resting and taking in the surroundings. The trail is open year-round and welcomes leashed dogs. 

Wildlife Watching

Raystown Lake and the greater Huntingdon County are home to many species of wildlife including black bears, white-tailed deer, and wild turkeys. You won’t need to go out of your way to encounter the many species native to the area. Keep your binoculars handy. You’ll want to see these magnificent creatures close up. But not too close-up. Never disturb the wildlife!!

Doe and Fawn

If you want to learn more about the geology, biology, and geography in this part of the state you could visit Penn’s Cave and Wildlife Park where you’ll be entertained and educated during the Farm-Nature-Wildlife Tour. The tour offers opportunities to see species native to North America including bison, red & silver foxes, black bears, elk, whitetail deer, wolves, and mountain lion cubs.

Fall Leaf Peeping

Autumn may be the best time of the year to visit the beautiful Raystown Lake area. In fall, when the crowds have gone and the air begins to turn crisp, plan a weekend of leaf peeping. While things may not be in full swing, you will still find plenty to do around the region. Most of the attractions stay open through October and most of the activities listed here remain available to visitors.

Tree a flame in autumn color

Visit the Huntingdon Farmers Market

Stop by the Huntingdon Farmers Market between 11 am and 3 pm every Thursday from May through October. Pick up your local fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh-cut flowers, eggs, meats, honey, and artisan baked goods for your stay at the lake. Additionally, you will find handmade items that make wonderful souvenirs and gifts to take home. The market is located at Portstown Park (842 Penn St, Huntingdon) just a short walk from downtown.   

Biking near Raystown Lake and Huntingdon

Mountain Bike the Allegrippis Trails

Allegrippis Mountain Biking Trails are a system of trails designed by MTB riders and built by the Army Corps of Engineers in conjunction with the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) at Raystown Lake. This trail system is known to be one of the best trail systems in Pennsylvania.  Its 36 miles of trails consist of 24 multi-use trails arranged as stacked loops that offer a flowy ride with moderate to vigorous inclines, stream crossings, and wildlife viewing areas. And you will find some spectacular views of the lake.

Overlooking Raystown Lake from Allegrippis Trails

Pennsylvania is known for its rocky trails and you will find plenty of them here. The trials are considered to be intermediate level but the loops system progresses from beginner trials to more difficult ones. 

You will find parking and trailheads along Seven Points Road and on Bakers Hollow Road just before the Susquehannock Campground Entrance Station. If you park at the Bakers Hollow parking lot you will work your way down to the lake. From here you can have someone pick you up and shuttle you back to your car. Mountain bikers looking for a ride with more climbing should do it in reverse.

Trail at Allegrippis

Bike the Lower Trail

The Lower (rhymes with Flower) Trail is a 17-mile out-and-back trail that runs between Alexandria in Huntingdon County and Canoe Creek State Park in Blair County. It is a mostly flat, mixed-use trail made up of 85% crushed rolled limestone and 15% paved surfaces. The Lower Trail offers a pleasant scenic ride with only a minimal grade making it suitable for riders of all ability levels.

Lower Trail near Altoona

This rail trail runs along the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River and follows the original towpath of the Pennsylvania Main Line Canal and the old Pennsylvania Railroad. Along the way, you will see remnants of the lock tenders’ houses, as well as the historical Mt. Etna iron plantation. Additionally, a variety of flora and fauna can be found along the route including rare plant species, Bald Eagle and Osprey.

The trailhead nearest to Raystown Lake and Huntingdon is the Alfarata Station. From US Route 22 turn North onto Main Street toward Alfarata between Waterstreet and US Route 22 bridge crossing the Juniata River, and proceed approximately 0.2 miles; the trailhead is on the right.

Ruins along the Lower Trail

The Lower Trail is a segment of the 1300-mile multi-use September 11th National Memorial Trail that connects the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville PA.

Take a Hike

Hundreds of miles of trails surround Raystown Lake so novice to expert hikers are sure to find one that fits their ability level. But here we will cover just a few of the 24 trails around Huntingdon.

Hike Standing Stone Trail

The Standing Stone Trail is an 84-mile-long trail that stretches from Cowans Gap State Park to Rothrock State Forest. The trail connects Tuscarora Trail in the South to the Mid-State Trail in the North. The trail’s name comes from the Standing Stone, a large rock formation located within Standing Stone State Park. 

Standing Stone Trail

Marked with blue blazes, the Standing Stone Trail offers a range of hiking experiences, from easy strolls to challenging climbs. It passes through diverse terrain, including rocky ridges, lush forests, and rugged mountains. Along the way, hikers can enjoy stunning views of the Pennsylvania countryside, including vistas of the Tuscarora Mountains, the Allegheny Front, and Raystown Lake.

The trail passes by several historic sites, including the remains of the 19th Century Standing Stone Furnace, and the once-popular Ridenour Overlook Hotel. But one of the most popular sections of the trail is the Alan Seeger Natural Area, a tract of old-growth forest that is home to a variety of rare plant and animal species.

Thousand Steps

The award-winning Thousand Steps trail is a 3.5-mile path that connects Mount Union and Mapleton Depot in Jack’s Narrows. It forms part of the Standing Stone Trail and gets its name from the 1,036 steps integrated into the mountain. Initially constructed in the early 1900s for transporting workers to a sandstone quarry, these steps now offer a challenging hike.

Thousand Steps

Ascending over half a mile, the trail encompasses an elevation gain of 1,715 feet. While it is a steep climb, reaching the top of Jacks Mountain unveils breathtaking vistas of the surrounding valleys. 

Moreover, Jacks Mountain holds geological significance. Glacial carving during the last Ice Age left behind fossils and petrified wood later unearthed through mining activities in the first half of the 20th century. Observant hikers can still find these treasures along the trail.

Terrace Mountain Trail

A popular hiking trail located near Raystown Lake, the Terrace Mountain Trail is approximately 27 miles long and makes its way along the entire east side of the lake. The trail features a variety of terrain, including steep climbs, rocky sections, and scenic overlooks. Along the way, hikers will encounter several scenic viewpoints, including the breathtaking Eagle’s Nest Overlook, which offers stunning views of Raystown Lake and the surrounding mountains.

The trail begins at the Seven Points Recreation Area and winds through the lush forests and rugged terrain of Terrace Mountain. Around mile 7, near Tatman Run, you will encounter one of two steep valleys along the ridge. As you continue on you will enter Rothrock Forest, a designated wildlife area protected from future development.

Terrace Mountain Trail
Terrace Mountain Trail. (2022, October 1). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrace_Mountain_Trail

Once the trail crosses Great Trough Creek watch for the ice mine, a great place to cool off on a hot summer day. Typically, you can count on ice being present from spring through August.  

The trail splits around mile 16.5: the upper trail runs along the ridge, and the lower takes you to the lake. While the trail continues from here, according to the Army Corps of Engineers site, the last 10 miles remain under construction.

Known for its stunning scenery, the Terrace Mountain Trail is also a challenging hike, with several steep climbs and rugged sections. Hikers should be prepared for a strenuous workout and should bring plenty of water and snacks.

Visit Rothrock State Forest and the Parks Within It

Rothrock Forest located in central Pennsylvania near State College spans over 96,000 acres and is named after Dr. Joseph Trimble Rothrock, Pennsylvania’s “Father of Forestry.” Within Rothrock Forest, visitors can explore four State Parks (Whipple Dam, Greenwood Furnace, Penn Roosevelt, and Trough Creek) and various Wild and Natural areas. The forest offers awe-inspiring vistas, an extensive trail network, as well as unique and varied natural areas.

Wild and Natural Areas of Rothrock State Forest

Deep within Rothrock State Forest, Thickhead Mountain Wild Area covers 4,886 acres of mixed-oak forest with rhododendron undergrowth. It includes Detweiler Run Natural Area, Bear Meadows Natural Area, and Big Flat Laurel Viewing Area. 

Bear Meadows Natural Area features a rare wetland ecosystem surrounded by steep mountains. It is a haven for unique organisms typically found only in remote areas of Canada and Siberia.

Bear Meadows Natural Area at Rothrock State Forest
By Nicholas A. Tonelli from Northeast Pennsylvania, USA – Bear Meadows Natural Area (4), CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61776571

Alan Seeger Natural Area is a 390-acre tract along Standing Stone Creek. A nature trail leads through a magnificent forest of old-growth hardwoods and towering hemlock trees. Nearby, Colyer Lake Dam provides scenic surroundings and over 200 species of birds and waterfowl.

Whipple Dam State Park

The tranquility of Whipple Dam State Park will restore your connection with nature. This 256-acre recreation and natural area situated within the forest offers family fun, educational opportunities, wildlife, hiking, biking, swimming, and more. 

The park’s 22-acre lake is a favorite spot for swimming and fishing. Plan a family picnic in the day-use area or lace up your hiking boots and hit the nature trails. Or bring your bikes and enjoy miles of off-road biking.

Greenwood Furnace State Park

Greenwood Furnace State Park offers 423 acres of stunning natural beauty as well as a rich history. The park’s ironmaking furnace, dating back to the 19th century, is a cultural highlight. 

The park offers plenty of recreational opportunities, including hiking trails, picnic pavilions for family gatherings, a playground for the kids, and Greenwood Lake, a trout-stocked lake ideal for fishing and boating. It also features a swimming area with a sandy beach, bathrooms, and a concession stand. 

Additionally, campers can enjoy well-maintained campgrounds, including drive-in and walk-in sites.

Greenwood Furnace State Park
Greenwood Furnace State Park. (2023, February 12). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenwood_Furnace_State_Park

Trough Creek State Park

Trough Creek State Park, is a beautiful destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The park covers 554 acres and is home to several natural attractions, including Balance Rock and Rainbow Falls.

Visitors can hike to Balance Rock, a massive boulder that appears to be defying gravity. Its impressive size and unusual positioning make it one of the natural wonders and a must-see feature of the park.

Rainbow Falls is a scenic attraction of this majestic state park. This enchanting waterfall cascades down a series of rocks and creates a kaleidoscope of colors in the sunlight.

Penn Roosevelt State Park

At just 41 acres, this small state park located in the isolated Stone Creek Kettle area of the Seven Mountains region is a popular destination for hiking, biking, fishing, and primitive camping. 

The area features diverse terrain and over 100 miles of Forestry roads for gravel biking. And nearby Cooper’s Gap is well-known for mountain biking.

Penn Roosevelt State Park
By Clint – originally posted to Flickr as Penn-Roosevelt State Park, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8730045

Hikers can pick up the famous Mid-State Trail here. This long-distance trail passes through the park, allowing hikers to embark on epic adventures.

Visit Area Attractions and Sightseeing

When you are visiting Raystown Lake I encourage you to explore beyond the lake and check out some of the area attractions. It’s OK to be a tourist.

Enjoy a Raystown Lake Boat Tour on the Proud Mary Showboat

You will board the Proud Mary at the Lake Raystown Resort Marina. From here you will head south on the lake for approximately 5 miles before making your way back to the dock. There is an informative narration that offers facts about the lake, its creation, and history as well as some local lore about a mythical monster that lurks beneath the lake’s surface.  

Proud Mary Raystown Lake

This paddlewheel boat has two levels: the enclosed lower level with a snack bar, restrooms, and seating, and the open-air upper deck with seating and panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains. Relax and take in the breathtaking views on this 90-minute tour.  The top deck is perfect for capturing photos and simply enjoying the breeze coming off the water.

There is no better way to see Raystown Lake from the water. A real treat is to cruise during the fall when the leaves are changing hues. 

American flag flying from the Proud Mary on Raystown Lake

In addition to sightseeing cruises, breakfast, and dinner cruises are also available. Finally, if you are planning a lake wedding or special event and want to dazzle your guests, then you may want to look into chartering the Proud Mary.

Take a Cave Tour at Lincoln Caverns and Whisper Rocks

Lincoln Caverns and Whisper Rocks is an exceptional underground attraction located on US Route 22 in Huntingdon. It features two incredible limestone caverns. Both are filled with extraordinary stalactites, stalagmites, calcite crystal flowers, and other rock formations. A third cavern not yet open to the public is simply referred to as “The New Discovery.”

Flowstone at Lincoln Caverns and Whisper Rocks

Visitors can take guided tours through the caverns, led by knowledgeable and friendly guides, providing a chance to learn about the history and geology of the caverns. You’ll observe unique features such as the “Frozen Niagra,” the largest active flowstone formation on the East Coast, and Whisper Rocks’ extraordinary “Cathedral.”

Bacon formation at Lincoln Caverns

Lincoln Caverns and Whisper Rocks is a not-to-be-missed destination for anyone interested in exploring Pennsylvania’s natural wonders and learning about its geological history.

Learn about Railroad History at the East Broad Top Railroad

Experience America’s industrial past at the East Broad Top Railroad (421 Meadow Street, Rockhill, PA), the only surviving narrow gauge railroad east of the Rocky Mountains and the oldest anywhere. The East Broad Top Railroad, a National Historic Landmark, stands as a testament to the early days of railroading.

Round house atthe East Broad Top Railroad

Take a guided tour of the 20th Century belt-driven machine shop complex, the eight-stalled roundhouse, and the railyard. Then, hop aboard a vintage steam-powered train for a one-hour ride. Select your seat from the enclosed coach, or an open-air car, or take up the rear of the train in the caboose.  This 9-mile round trip experience traverses rolling hills, forests, and scenic farmland, showcasing the region’s beauty.

Create lasting memories with your family at the East Broad Top Railroad with one of their themed seasonal events including the Pumpkin Patch Express and Christmas in Coal Country. 

Rockhill Trolley Museum

The Rockhill Trolly Museum (430 Meadow St, Rockhill), located adjacent to the East Broad Top Railroad is Pennsylvania’s first operating trolley museum and home to dozens of electric trolleys from around the US and beyond. Step aboard and marvel at the ornate interiors of these historic trolleys. 

Rockhill Trolley Museum

Once you’ve explored the collection housed in the car barn, embark on a delightful journey aboard a former Philadelphia trolley. This out-and-back ride lasts approximately one hour and provides insights into the region’s iron industry, upon which it was built.

Swigart Museum: The Oldest US Automotive Museum

The Swigart Museum in Huntingdon is a remarkable automotive museum founded by William E. Swigart Jr. in 1920. It is the oldest antique automobile museum in the US and houses over 150 rare and historic cars. 

Each year, around 30 to 35 vehicles are displayed, ensuring a fresh experience with each visit. Highlights include a 1916 Stutz Bearcat, a 1936 Duesenberg Model JN, and a 1948 Tucker Torpedo.

Swigert Museum Huntingdon PA

The museum also features a collection of antique toys and nostalgic items. Open from late May to October, the Swigart Museum offers guided tours and educational programs for groups of 20 or more. 

Car enthusiasts and those interested in automotive history will find it to be a must-visit destination that showcases the evolution of the American automobile industry. 

Learn Huntingdon History at the Isett Heritage Museum

The Isett Heritage Museum in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, is a captivating museum founded by John Melvin Isett. Over 60+ years of marriage, John and his wife Beulah collected over 40,000 historical items related to Huntingdon County.

Isett Heritage Museum, Huntingdon, PA
Image courtesy of the Isett Heritage Museum

The museum displays a diverse range of Americana objects from the 19th and 20th centuries, including antique furniture, vintage clothing, automobiles, farm equipment, cameras, and military artifacts. One of the highlights is a large collection of antique toys and dolls. Visitors can also explore a recreated 19th-century general store.

Plan to spend at least 2 hours to fully appreciate the entire collection.

Take a Stroll around Huntingdon

Make the 20-minute drive from the lake to take a stroll around the charming downtown area. Check out some of the small shops and cafes. There are several places to eat as well as a vintage movie theater. 

Downtown Huntingdon, PA
Photo by Joseph A, License under Creative Commons

Visit the Campus of Juniata College

Huntingdon is home to Juniata College, a small (my high school was much larger) liberal arts school. The college has a beautiful campus with several historic buildings, including Founders Hall and the Cloister, and hosts concerts, plays, and other cultural events.

Carnegie Museum of Art at Juniata College
Juniata College. (2023, April 6). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juniata_College

Do a Coffee Cupping at Standing Stone Coffee

I encourage you to schedule a coffee cupping at Standing Stone Coffee Company (1229 Mifflin Street).  If you are not familiar with this, it is similar to wine tasting but with coffee. You will learn about the different coffee beans, processing, and roasting techniques. You will leave with an understanding of how each influences the flavor of the coffee you drink.  

Standing Stone Coffee Cup

Indulge your Sweet Tooth

Don’t leave Huntingdon without paying Sweethearts Confectionery on Washington Street a visit. They offer delectable and original flavors such as Fluffernutter, Monster Cookie Dough, Strawberry Pretzel Salad, Orange Creamsicle, and many more. I had the Graham Cracker S’mores and it was da bomb!! Bring home a box of some of the most amazing cupcakes imaginable or a box of Asher’s Chocolates, a Pennsylvania original, for yourself or as a gift.

S'more's Cupcake Sweetheart Confectionery Huntingdon PA

See a Movie at a Vintage Theater

Enjoy a first-run movie at the Clifton 5 Theater, a modern multiplex theater with a storied past. Originally built as the Huntingdon Opera House, this theater nearly burnt to the ground in one of the largest fires in Huntingdon’s history. Through the years, the theater has had several owners and has gone through numerous renovations, but parts of the theater retain the vintage art deco style of the 1920s including the lobby interior and the main staircase. 

Exterior of the vintage Clifton 5 Theater in downtown Huntingdon PA
Photo by Joseph A, License under Creative Commons
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