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Raystown Lake Road Trip Recap

13 July 2009 No Comment

This past weekend Bill Cullen and I headed out to the Rothrock Forest and Raystown Lake, PA, to sample two very different styles of riding on some killer Pennsylvania trails. We headed out of midtown at 5 pm through some nasty Lincoln Tunnel traffic, but once past the tunnel it was surprisingly light. Stopped for dinner at the Barley Creek Brewery out next to Camelback, PA, then hit the road again and pulled up to our campsite at the Penn Roosevelt State Park in the middle of Rothrock State Forest about 11:15pm. Quick camp setup, a few adult beverages, and it was off to bed.

Saturday morning we were met by Frank Maguire, the new IMBA Northeast Regional Director, who calls State College, PA home. He gave us a fantastic guided tour of Rothrock, following a route relatively similar to the lower half of the Stoopid 50 race course, with some extra bits of nice singletrack and less road sections. We knocked out 21 miles in about 3.5 hours over some nasty, rocky and super-sweet singletrack. Steep climbs, teeth-rattling bomb descents- just awesome singletrack.

We had packed up the car before the ride just in case the weather predictions of rain came true, so after the ride we hopped in the car and headed to State College to check out the Arts Festival and get some lunch. En route, the rain started pouring and the traffic slowed to a crawl as festival-goers clogged the roads, so we made a snap decision to head back out of town, grabbed some lunch, and got on the road toward Raystown Lake about an hour south. What a great decision that turned out to be.

Raystown Lake from the campground

Raystown Lake from the campground

Luckily the 7 Points campground had a couple sites still available, so we got in, checked out the campsite then headed to the Allegrippis Trailshead (just up the road from the campground) around 4:30 to squeeze in an afternoon ride. It had rained a bit in the area, but not as severely as it had further north and the trails weren’t muddy. We knocked out 12 miles doing the southern loop- out Dark Hollow, then Shade Trail to Allegheny in the clockwise direction (Barrel Bay was closed due to logging). Along the trail we ran into a father and son from Pittsburgh who had driven up to ride and camp- curiously they were camping only¬† afew spots away from us. After we finished Allegheny, we were feeling fine so we turned around and rode it in the opposite direction (counter-clockwise) just to see how it rode (slightly better counter-clockwise, we decided), then it was out, back to the car, to the lake for a quick dip and back to the campground to clean up. We hit the local BBQ shack at the marina for dinner, but by 8:30 they had just thrown out all the food for the night! Thankfully the cook brought out two trays of BBQ thigh-quarters which, rather than charge us for, they gave us for free. Thanks Clems!

PA may have great singletrack, but their beer laws are ridiculous. Unable to find a beer retailer anywhere close to this very popular marina, we ended up driving an hour round trip up to Huntingdon to the local beer distributor. But one must do what one must do, right? We brought some beer over to the riders we had met on the trail earlier, and enjoyed a nice evening of BS’ing about bikes.

The oh-so-swoopy Hydro trail

The oh-so-swoopy Hydro trail

Sunday morning came around too soon, but we were here to ride and so ride we did. Trails were completely dry and in perfect shape. Since we had knocked out the lower loop on Saturday afternoon, we focused on the upper loop for this ride, and started up the Stony Trail- a remarkably rocky trail section in a trail system that is primarily smooth and fast. From there it just got fast, furious and flowy, bombing down Doe to Sleek Dog to a nice sustained downhill on Eagle. The climbs were reasonable- none steep enough to merit more than my middle ring- and the downhills were absolutely incredibly- fast series of grade reversals that provided endless opportunities for catching air followed by killer little g-outs. After Eagle, we reached Hydro, and opted for counter-clockwise around it, then climbed up Osprey and Sidewinder to Ray’s Revenge. When I say climb, it’s not non-stop climbing- the trail designers were careful to break up any significant climbs with nice little downhills to recover on, so you never got hammered with super-long, taxing climbs, even though you were definitely gaining altitude.

Nice of the trailbuilders to leave benches for mid-ride rest stops

Nice of the trailbuilders to leave benches for mid-ride rest stops

Rays Revenge took us to the Ridge trail which provided some excellent views of the lake, then it was down to our favorite trail of the trip- Grippis- with its “Caution- Dips” warning sign. Imagine a series of 30 or rounded-over dirt jumps, and that pretty much describes Grippis (see the video section after the warning sign for footage of the first bit of Grippis). While the video doesn’t capture everything, those swooping dips went on and on and on for a number of minutes- a quality gravity-fed XC showpiece trail. Once we finished it, we took a left up Red Legs, which climbed then offered an awesome descent of its own. The pull of Grippis was then too great so we cut over and rode Grippis then Red Legs again, dropping into an absolutely amazing descent off the ridgeline down MASSIVE berms on Rays Revenge that flowed into a totally pinned run down Sidewinder to the bridge. We climbed up to Osprey, hit Hydro clockwise (even better this direction than our first time around it in the other direction), then back out Osprey to Fawn, Buck then Stony trail back to the car. 31 miles total. We were spent- 64 miles of riding over 2 days on some utterly fabulous trails. Can’t say enough good things about those PA trails!

A carpet of lichen under the pines

A carpet of lichen under the pines

The lake from the Ridge trail

The lake from the Ridge trail

Caution- Dips!

Caution- Dips!

Definitely put the Raystown Lake trails on your road-trip radar. IMBA did a fantastic job of building trails that are fun for riders of any ability. Here’s a quick taste with some video we shot:


-JB

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