Raystown … Best Mountain Biking in the State?
“Raystown is arguably the best riding in the state.” These were Drew’s words when my trip to Pennsylvania was confirmed. In another email he stated, “[Raystown is] …fast, flowy hard pack single track – 30 miles of roller coaster – pumpers built to make ascents less noticeable. I say this is a must ride.”
Friday, when I arrived in Pennsylvania, Drew told me that although it was his favorite place to ride, we should probably wait until Monday to visit Raystown. He explained by telling me about Dirt Fest … the annual mountain bike festival the locals were holding Saturday and Sunday at Raystown. “There might be hundreds of mountain bikers on the trail at any given time,” Drew stated. “We don’t want to deal with that do we?” I whole hardheartedly concurred, saying I would much rather we rode at our own pace and didn’t have to dodge others.
Raystown (Allegrippis Trails)
Length: 19.69 miles
For more details view:
Raystown and Lake
During the 2 hour drive (on Tuesday) Drew pointed out some very interesting landmarks and points of interest. For instance, we drove right past Penn State College. We passed by the town where he and Shanna lived when they were first married. He also shared some information regarding Raystown.
Drew said there actually was a town set deep in a gully (named Raystown) and all the people of the town had to vacate when they started filling the reservoir with water. After going on the internet I came up with a few more interesting facts.
Raystown is the largest lake that lies entirely within the state of Pennsylvania. The lake was created primarily to control floods, provide electricity, and support recreational activities. The first Raystown Dam was created in 1912. Many subsequent replacement dams were built, the latest in 1972.
As we cruised into the parking lot, I spotted only three other vehicles. One had empty bike racks, one with no racks, and the third was in the process of unloading mountain bikes. Drew said we were on the top of the hill and all the trails lay down toward the lake.
As I emerged from Drew’s Sonata I was startled by the brightness and heat reflecting off the white gravel surface. We were both disappointed there were no bathrooms after such a long ride in the car.
Like we had on our previous three rides in PA, we pulled our shoes, helmets, gloves, and hydration packs from the trunk of the Hyundai. As soon as I picked up my Camelbak I knew I had screwed up … again. No water! I had forgotten all my water once before, in Brian Head a few years previous. On that ride the weather turned out to be rainy and cold, and I was riding by myself. This time it was hot, we were miles from a store, and Drew was ready to ride.
Searching for Liquids
Drew suggested I take the Gatorade stored in his cooler, one he had brought for me to drink at the end of the ride. I also had maybe twelve ounces of water left in my hydration pack from our Loyalsock ride the previous day. I told him I would survive so we headed across the parking lot for the trailhead.
As we were about to cross the road to the trailhead Drew abruptly turned right and pedaled thirty yards to a Coke machine. This machine stood all by itself on the side of the road … no kiosk, no building, no bathroom, just a drink machine! I remember telling Drew I had read many marathon runners preferred de-carbonated (flat) Coke during a race. But my hopes were soon dashed as we quickly determined the device was not operational, so we headed down the trail.
- Click on the blue “P” for Driving Directions to the Trailhead.
Have you done this ride? What did you think of it? How about sharing your thoughts on our Visitor Stories page?
Below you will find the official map of the Allegrippis trails at Raystown with each trail name provided. This map was posted on a sign at the trailhead. I took a photo of the sign and several times we had to refer to the map on our ride (you may need to magnify your browser window to read the individual trail names).
… This started just up the street from the defunct Coke Machine, just a few yards from the parking lot.
We came across a snake well into our ride on the Loyalsock Trail the previous day. Today had barely gone a mile before coming across one on the Doe Trail in Raystown. We had started on the Buck Trail and almost as soon as we hit the Doe Trail, Drew stopped in front of me. When I pulled up alongside I could see the dark, skinny, 4-foot long creature sprawled across our path. I could tell it was not a Timber Rattler like the day before. When asked, Drew said it was a Black Snake and although feisty, was not poisonous.Less than a mile after that we were looking at a 3-foot Black Snake on the Sleek Dog Trail. At this point I got to wondering how many of these things we were going to come across. However, for whatever reason, these were the only two snakes we saw.
Sleek Dog Trail
Where we met our second Black Snake.
Mostly downhill, long sweeping turns, designed for speed … my kind of riding.
We left the Eagle Trail to go down toward the lake to check out the campground for water. We did find some canopies. One of them had one of those huge water cubes (most likely left by the Dirt Fest people) … but it was empty!
It was looking more and more like I was going to have to make do with just the Gatorade and the few ounces of water left in my Camelbak.
After a thorough search of each camp spot we found nothing and had to grind back up the blacktop road to rejoin the Eagle Trail.
(continued where we had left off) same as the previous part of the Eagle Trail.
(clockwise) … Drew thought clockwise would be better, even though the arrows on the map show a counterclockwise route. Although the map makes it look like a rider would be right on the shoreline we could seldom see the water and we were always a football field above the shore.
Just used a couple hundred yards of this trail to get to Sidewinder.
Like a roller coaster … with an old wooden bridge! A real fun and beautiful stretch of trail. And despite the name … no snakes!
Just a little piece led us to Berry Patch.
Here we saw a doe and fawn. The fawn was very wobbly on his feet. He might have been born that morning. I couldn’t get the camera turned on in time to catch him. Dang!
After quite a bit of climbing we ate a little snack and Drew showed off his bibs. He said the most difficult thing about wearing bibs was urinating. He lifted his jersey to show me how high they were and how hard it would be to get them down far enough to take a leak. When he lifted the jersey I told him I might go blind and it may take a lifetime to get my mind to forget such a ghastly sight. He said he had a buddy that looked worse it bibs and I said, “No way!” He then pulled out his phone and found a photo of the guy (pictured below). I told him I had to agree and asked him to email me the photo so I could show it on the site.
Just a hundred yards or so to connect to the Ridge Trail.
We came across a sign warning … Dips Ahead! I didn’t find the dips any different than the ones we had already been riding. All in all, a whole lot of fun!
We stopped at a bench here for a break since we were treated to a fantastic eastward view of Raystown Lake.Upon leaving Drew warned me of an abrupt right turn immediately following a berm, and the last time he rode this he was in the air and couldn’t make the turn. I tried to keep the rubber on the ground which was harder than it sounds! I had to suck up several woop-tee-do’s.
A great ride in either direction!
Hundreds of bike tracks as we climbed up out of the reservoir canyon. I figured this must be the way many people enter and leave the Raystown Trails.
Fun, with a little bit of climbing. No snakes this time.
Took us back to the car.I was just a little thirsty as we got back to the car. We split the remaining Gatorade as we packed everything up and headed to a Subway Restaurant with free refills on fountain drinks.