In 1758, George Washington, commanding the rear guard of British general John Forbes's army en route to capture Fort Duquesne, slept in a field just ten miles west of Bedford, Pennsylvania. Today, those very fields make up Shawnee State Park. Named for the Shawnee tribe who, in the 18th century, were forced from the Potomac to Ohio Country, Shawnee State Park (opened in 1951) was a mainstay of my childhood. When we were kids, my parents, on hot summer days, would drive my brother and me to Shawnee in our old 1975 Pontiac where we would spend countless hours swimming, playing in the sand, picnicking, and hiking (what seemed, to an eight year old, and endless trail) around the lake.
|Shawnee Lake as seen from Field Trail on the Northwest side of the lake. -- March 30, 2018|
This past weekend was a "homecoming," of sorts, for me. Please don't get me wrong...I come home to visit often...but I can count on one hand the number of times I've been to Shawnee State Park since I graduated high school. Twice to be precise. On the Fourth of July weekend, in 2014, Robin, Alex, Dad, Mary Jane, and I took a hike along the lake and, in 2015, I took a ride on my road bike through the park.
|Hiking around Shawnee Lake. Dave, Mary Jane, Alex, Robin, and David Raymond. -- July 5, 2014|
|Road ride through Shawnee State Park. -- July 10, 2015|
This past Fall, I entered one of my mountain biking pics in a photo contest sponsored by the good folks at PA Parks and Forests Foundation. To my excitement (and surprise,) my pic was one of the winners. I was equally surprised when I found out that the winning photos would be on display this month at Shawnee State Park. What a super cool coincidence...and how fortunate I was to be able to make the trip to my hometown to be present (along with my wife, Robin, my father, Mary Jane, Jane, and Galen) for the ribbon cutting ceremony opening the PA Parks and Forests photo contest gallery on display at Shawnee's Environmental Education Center. I was so proud to share this honor with my wife, family, and members of the local community!
|Participating in the Ribbon Cutting at Shawnee State Park. -- March 29, 2018|
|David and Robin Raymond in the Education Center at Shawnee State Park located in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. -- March 29, 2018|
|Seated: Galen & Jane Black.|
Standing: Robin, David, Mary Jane, & Dave Raymond
Shawnee State Park Education Center -- March 29, 2018
Robin and I planned on staying in Bedford for a couple of days and I knew that I would have a little bit of time to ride on Friday morning..so I brought my bike along, too. In all honesty, I planned on heading back to the trails near the Bedford Springs. I mountain biked that area for the first time back in January...but the snow and ice and single digit temperatures limited where, and how long, I could explore. Those plans changed as I mingled around the Education Center on Thursday night and all of the memories of Shawnee State Park began to fill into my head. I was inspired to come back to Shawnee the next morning for my first ever mountain bike ride in the very same State Park I knew so well as a child.
|This sign for FIELD TRAIL is easily seen from the road as you turn off of Route 30 and into Shawnee State Park. Field trail was the beginning (and ending) point of my ride. -- March 30, 2018|
From the outset, I knew that this would be a mud-fest. With that in mind, (and, even though I spent a lot of time at Shawnee as a kid) I was about to head out for a solo ride on "new to me" trails and I thought it prudent to map my ride ahead of time from a trail map I acquired from a Park Ranger the previous evening. Mary Jane seemed to be impressed with my pre-ride preparation as I spread the map out on the coffee table in the living room. I assured her that, no matter how much I may joke around, maps are a GOOD thing! As for my plan...I decided to park the Cruz on a small pull off located where Field Trail intersects with the paved road in State Park. The route I chose, in theory, would loop around the eastern section of the lake...and, if I was correct, would eventually end at the exactly where I began.
|My plan had me riding Field Trail until it intersected at the far end of the park with Felton Trail. -- March 30, 2018|
|Descending off of Pigeon Hills Trail I ended up at the dam on the southern end of the lake. From there I pedaled Lake Shore Trail and began making my way back Field Trail and, eventually, looping back to my starting point. -- March 30, 2018|
|Pausing on Lake Shore Trail near the dam on the south end of Shawnee Lake. -- March 30, 2018|
No doubt about it...this ride was a complete mud-fest...a sloppy, wet, mucky, amazingly fun, mud-fest. Through it all, I was able to rediscover a beautiful State Park in which I had spend so much time years ago...in a way that I never had before. Robin says that Bedford is the only place she ever sees me relax. I don't know how true that is...but I do love going home to visit. Not just for the good memories that come rushing back to me...but also because of the new memories that are constantly being created there with the people, and places, I love.
Life is a journey...not a destination.
David A. Raymond -- April 2, 2018
|Summer of 1977! My dad (holding my brother, Jake) packing the car to take the two of us and our older cousins (Bobby, Andy, and Kristen) to Shawnee State Park for the day.|
Here is the GARMIN map and data from my solo mud-fest at Shawnee State Park...along with the maps and data from my 2014 hike and 2015 road ride. Happy riding!
Interested in biking or hiking some of the trails featured in this post? Check out the TRAIL MAPS and TRAIL HEADS tabs on the ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM website.
All of my posts are available at ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM and, if you get the chance, be sure to visit the good folks at YOURTRUENATURE.COM and PA PARKS and FORESTS FOUNDATION.