Friday, August 28, 2020


85,000.  That's roughly the number of acres that make up Michaux State Forest in Central Pennsylvania.  One would think that after 15 years of mountain biking in the forest that it would be hard to find something new to ride, but the 85,000 acres makes Michaux a big place.  Actually...really big!  There are certain spots that I love where the forest seems to just engulf everything.  I know that there are cars and roads and buildings and telephone poles down there...but the forest just swallows it all up.  The sensory experience...the breeze blowing through the trees, the green that stretches as far as the eyes can see, and the fresh smell of the blossoming mountain so rejuvenating.  Nothing man-made or unnatural.  Just the forest.

From 800 feet up the forest seems to engulf everything. -- July 7, 2020

85,000 acres allows for so many possibilities.  Even so, it can be easy to fall into the routine of riding the same familiar trails.  I wanted this summer to be different, unique, and even a little bit special.  There are just so many trails camouflaged from view when looking down from the rock vistas in the forest.  Trails that I wanted to discover for myself.  So armed with an updated Purple Lizard Map, a segment finder, and a little bit of hearsay I set out to ensure that, this summer, every single Michaux ride would include at least one "new to me" trail.



A newly logged area of Dead Woman's Hollow Trail, 3 Mile Trail, and a small section on top of Woodrow Road that is called Purgatory Rocks on the Purple Lizard Map.


Nothing easy about this one! On this first ride of the summer we climbed over 2,100 feet in just over fifteen miles!  Our Memorial Day extravaganza included, not just the "new to me" trails listed above, but Grave Ridge and my first ride UP Dead Woman's Hollow Road in eight years. 

Dave Raymond and Brent Shirk. -- May 25, 2020

Brent Shirk on Grave Ridge Trail. -- May 25, 2020

All smiles at the bottom AND the top of Dead Woman's Hollow Road. -- May 25, 2020

3 Mile Trail really is three miles long! -- May 25, 2020

State Forest Boundary marker on a tree along 3 Mile Trail -- May 25, 2020

Navigating a log build up in Michaux. -- May 25, 2020



A super cool switchback that veered off of Purgatory Rocks and down to Sunset Rocks Trail.


What was short on miles was made up for with a massive 650 foot climb between miles four and six.  Then we got lost.  I literally got turned around and couldn't orient myself in the correct direction.  Ultimately we got ourselves straightened out and back on the correct path.
Tim ended up taking a short cut out...but Brent and I really enjoyed descending down the other side of that 650 foot climb. 

Making our way to the top of Woodrow Road.  Dave Raymond, Brent Shirk, and Tim Sindlinger. -- June 9, 2020

Playing on the rocks near the top of Woodrow Road. -- June 9, 2020



We rode the entirety Ridge Trail until it eventually connected to Buck Ridge Trail.


I told Chris that I had an ambitious ride planned...that it would include a little bit of everything...and that it would be around 18ish miles.  Well, it did include a little bit of everything...rock gardens, fire road descents, single track, vistas with amazing views, and a ton of mountain laurel in full bloom...but I was a little off with the mileage.  What I predicted would be 18 miles turned out to be over 25!  Such an epic ride.

Appreciating the mountain laurel in Michaux State Forest. -- June 13, 2020

Taking flight in Michaux. -- June 13, 2020

A perfect day and a very long ride with Chris Keller. -- June 13, 2020



We rode a super cool connector trail that leads from Buck Ridge Trail, through an area labeled on the map as the Black Swamp, and up to Ridge Trail just south of Ridge Road.


This thirteen mile ride through Michaux State Forest, which was front loaded with "new to us" trials, a ton of single track, a descent down Vista Trail, a field trip off the beaten path to check out the remains of a 1930s Girl Scout Camp swimming pool...all while riding through a thick, low hanging fog...was super fun. Heck, even if we didn't do all that stuff...just the fact that we were graced, for the first time this summer, with the presence of Red Beard, himself...Matt Linnane...made this ride special.  

Finding my way through the fog. -- July 7, 2020

Matt pausing for a selfie. -- July 7, 2020

This orange butterfly hitchhiked down Vista Trail on my Camelbak. -- July 7, 2020

Riding rocks in Michaux. -- July 7, 2020

Finishing up our ride with a descent down Vista Trail. -- July 7, 2020

A photo of the 1934 Girl Scout Camp swimming pool. -- July 7, 2020

Remains of the 1934 Girl Scout Camp swimming pool.  Michaux State Forest. -- July 7, 2020



Various single tracks that zigzag up Woodrow Road and a section of Camp Michaux (which I have hiked before...but never ridden.)


"Hey...let's, for fun, climb to the top of Woodrow Road," said very few people ever.  Our goal was to ride the super fun and rocky single track off of Purgatory Rocks again.  In the process we zigzagged our way up Woodrow Road on various single tracks...a few of which I had never been on.  Ultimately, we had no choice but to ride the top part of the gravel road in the summer heat.  A tough climb...but very rewarding.  The back side didn't disappoint us...especially when we took an unplanned detour on the trails through Camp Michaux.

It was a long, hot haul...but I made it to the top!  -- July 14, 2020

Navigating Purgatory Rocks. -- July 14, 2020

Taking the trail through Camp Michaux. -- July 14, 2020

Matt descending single track. -- July 14, 2020

Pausing in Purgatory Rocks.  Dave Raymond, Tim Sindlinger. Matt Linnane. -- July 14, 2020



An unmarked trail connecting the top and bottom of Dead Woman's Hollow Road.


Earlier this summer a hiker mentioned to me that there was an unmarked (in the woods and on the map) trial that led from the top to the bottom of Dead Woman's Hollow Road.  To get to it, Tim and I climbed Dead Woman's Hollow Road.  What started as a steep single track descent morphed into beautiful combination of streams, waterfalls, roots, and rock build ups. Our shortest ride of the summer (only 11+ miles) included over 2,400 feet of climbing!  That's a lot of uphill riding.  

Dead Woman's Hollow Trail -- July 28, 2020

Dave Raymond and Tim Sindlinger at the vista on Blueberry Trail. -- July 28, 2020

My Stumpjumer overlooking Michaux State Forest. -- July 28, 2020

Enjoying a trail through an area of the forest that was recently logged. -- July 28, 2020

Dave Raymond and Tim Sindlinger. -- July 28, 2020

Tim wrapping up the ride. -- July 28, 2020



All by myself!


Nothing new except for the reason for the ride and how it began....


A few months ago, my step-daughter asked me to help her find a location in the woods with a beautiful stream for her to take maternity pictures.  I couldn't think of any place more suitable than Tom's Run in Michaux State Forest.  Naturally, I took my mountain bike and had my son, Alex, drive me to to top of the Ridge.  My plan was just to ride down the mountain...but I found myself with a little extra time on the trails.  I find it amazingly cool that I ended up CLIMBING almost 600 feet in this ride even though I started it at the top of the ridge.  Michaux is awesome.

Mia and Kevin taking maternity photos in Michaux.  -- August 2, 2020



Piney Ridge Trail and Huckleberry Trail


I really tried to switch things up with this one and planned a ride solely centered around the ATV trails south of Pine Grove Furnace State Park.  I wasn't sure how this would be received by Matt and Tim...but our seventeen mile ride proved to be one of my favorites this summer.  The ride was highlighted by a 400 foot descent in less than a mile on Huckleberry Trail, a fun ride on Grave Ridge, and the huge black bear we saw crossing State Route 233!

A day of fire road riding! -- August 11, 2020

I'll be your Huckleberry! -- August 11, 2020

ATV trails are rocky and fun! -- August 11, 2020 

Dave Raymond, Matt Linanne, and Tim Sindlinger enjoying a ride that mostly consisted of ATV trails.  -- August 11, 2020



The entirety of the Canada Hollow Trail. 


Matt and I saved this ride for the final ride of our summer.  Big Flat is an area that I've ridden...but not on any kind of regular basis.  My knowledge of the area is minimal...requiring Matt and I to pull out our maps quite often.  I got to tell you, I really enjoyed mapping out the ride while we were on the go.  It made for quite the adventure.  Matt's main objective for the day was to ride Astronomy Trail and it's more than two miles of descending single track.  Half way through the ride we suffered our first major mechanical of the summer when my rear derailleur snapped in half.  We completed some single speed conversion therapy with my Stumpjumper so that we could make our way back up to the Big Flat parking lot.  Regardless of how it ended...this ride was quite the adventure!

Matt and I heading out to explore the area of the forest south of Shippensburg Road.  -- August 18, 2020

Making Matt's day by riding Astronomy Trail.  He's always wanted to ride it. -- August 18, 2020

Matt descending Astronomy Trail. -- August 18, 2020

Riding Astronomy Trail. -- August 18, 2020

Such a fun ride.  I loved pulling the maps out and planning our next trail. -- August 18, 2020

Matt and Wildcat Trail. -- August 18, 2020

A normal derailleur doesn't look like this!  -- August 18, 2020

Doing a little surgery on my bike!  -- August 18, 2020

I started my ride with eleven speeds and ended with one...but I finished!-- August 18, 2020

Descending the trail under power lines in Michaux on my newly converted "single speed." -- August 18, 2020

I've been riding in Michaux now for almost 20 years...and this year I saw more different parts of the forest than I have since I first started riding there.  Breaking our of our pattern of the same old- same old and going out of our way to find "new to us" parts to ride really rekindled, at least in me, a sense of adventure and excitement.  The great thing is that I know that there are so many other trails out there that I still need to find and ride.  85,000 acres is, after all, a large area to uncover.  

Matt took this pic of me after our final ride off of Big Flat.  It's was an amazing summer of riding! -- August 18, 2020

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- August 28, 2020

I enjoyed more than one post ride root beer floats at the Twirly Top this summer! -- July 28, 2020

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 


Friday, July 17, 2020


For one week every June, the town of Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania becomes my home away from home.  I've written numerous times about my family connection to this amazingly beautiful state park located in Fayette County, Pennsylvania.  My grandparents spent time here with my parents, my parents spent time here with me, and now I absolutely love coming back each year with my son, Alex. It's a week that I look forward to each year because it means that another school year is in the books (pun intended) and the entire summer is still ahead of me.  It's a week that allows me to slow down, hit the pause button on life, and enjoy the best that the little town of Ohiopyle, the Youghiogheny River, the surround streams and creeks, the forest, and the trails have to offer.  

Post mountain biking rest at the edge of the Youghiogheny River.  David A. Raymond. 
Photo by Devin Seiger. -- June 18, 2020

As alluded to...I don't go on this yearly adventure alone.  My son, Alex, has traditionally joined has his best friend, Devin.  Last year, we included my niece, Jackie, in our big kid adventures.  She loves every aspect of our time in Ohiopyle...whether it is hiking up a mountain, exploring waterfalls, or just relaxing at the campsite.  Far from being a moody teenager...Jackie fits right in and has earned a permanent place in our camping group.  The week was also highlighted by the presence of my great friend, Mike Graham, and a visit by my college roommate, Chris Lowe.  One of the nicest surprises was that my other niece, Shalice, seriously stepped out of her comfort zone and joined us for the week. 

Evening dinner with special guest...Chris Lowe.  --  June 16, 2020 

From the beginning, we knew that this trip would be different from previous camping trips.  Coincidentally, we timed it perfect.  Because of the Covid-19 Pandemic, DCNR had just reopened the campground cabins two days prior to our arrival.  We also understood that some of our usual activities would be (and were) altered or even put on hold until next year. None of this impacted our experience or the time that we had on our adventure this year.  If I were to break down our normal daily routine while camping it would look like this...a morning campfire with coffee and breakfast, followed by the day's planned big kid adventure, culminating with a relaxing evening around at the campsite.

Reading by the morning fire.  David A. Raymond --  June 15, 2020 

Personally, I enjoy sitting in the morning by the campfire with my coffee and a good book...but I'm sure that if you asked Alex or Jackie what the liked best about hanging out at the campgrounds they would say the food.  There is no shortage of it...that's for sure!  I make a point to take them all to Walmart on our way to the campsite so that they can pick out what they want to eat.  This ensures that the food we buy will also be eaten.  A lot of the dinner recipes were inspired by COOKING WITH LEWIS AND CLARK....a video series that Mike Graham and I do for our students at school.  With meals like hominy and bacon and hominy is quite possible that our week at Ohiopyle keeps the hominy industry in business!  A lot of bacon is made (not necessarily in the fashion pioneered by our forefathers), a lot of chips are eaten, smores made and devoured, and mountain pies toasted in the fire.  All of this making for a week of good relaxation and good eating for everyone.

One of our favorite camping dinners...Hominy and Bacon.  Thanks for the inspiration, COOKING WITH LEWIS AND CLARK! --  June 15, 2020 

Serving my niece, Jackie, dinner.  --  June 15, 2020 

The early stages of making dessert...HOMINY FRITTERS!  --  June 15, 2020 

Fritting up some hominy fritters.  --  June 15, 2020 

The hominy fritters are still fritting!  -- June 15, 2020

Preparing bacon the way our forefathers did. -- June 16, 2020

Friends.  Dave Raymond and Mike Graham.  --  June 15, 2020 

Shalice working hard on her online class.  --  June 16, 2020 

Corn hole fun at the campsite.  Alex Raymond, Devin Seiger, and Jackie Raymond. -- June 15, 2020

Mike Graham in his hammock. -- June 15, 2020

Relaxing with my son, Alex.  --  June 18, 2020 

Devin and his landline cell phone.  --  June 18, 2020 

Each of our days at Ohiopyle are also packed full of what I like to call "big kid" adventures.  Usually this includes a white water rafting trip down the Youghiogheny but this year, because of the pandemic, we opted just to explore and stay within our own little group.  The extra day allowed us time for Jackie to experience the natural water slide that flows through the park and for us to explore an area called Cascade Falls.  This really seclude area, not far from the natural water slides, had huge cavernous walls of rock on each side, waterfalls, and a few swimming holes.  From there we made a trek down past (and under) Cucumber Falls and out to the Youghiogheny River.  While the boys skipped rocks Jackie and Shalice, because the water levels were so low, were able to wade further out into the river to "swim."

Jackie Raymond enjoying the natural water slide at Ohiopyle State Park.  -- June 16, 2020

Jackie Raymond enjoying the natural water slide at Ohiopyle State Park.  -- June 16, 2020

Mike Graham and Dave Raymond exploring Cascade Falls.  -- June 16, 2020

Exploring Cascade Falls.  Dave Raymond, Jackie Raymond, Alex Raymond, Devin Seiger, Chris Lowe, Mike Graham, and Shalice Gull.  -- June 16, 2020

Jackie Raymond enjoying Cascade Falls.  -- June 16, 2020

Exploring Cascade Falls.  -- June 16, 2020

Jackie Raymond and Shalice Gull exploring Cascade Falls. -- June 16, 2020

Alex Raymond and Devin Seiger.  -- June 16, 2020

Jackie Raymond enjoying the swimming hole at the base of Cascade Falls.  -- June 16, 2020

Cucumber Falls at Ohiopyle State Park.  -- June 16, 2020

Shalice Gull and Jackie Raymond relaxing behind Cucumber Falls.  -- June 16, 2020

Devin Sieger, Alex Raymond, Dave Raymond, Chris Low, Shalice Gull, Jackie Raymond, and Mike Graham behind Cucumber Falls.  -- June 16, 2020

Dave Raymond and Mike Graham exploring Cucumber Falls. -- June 16, 2020

Playing in the Youghiogheny River.  Jackie Raymond, Shalice Gull, Alex Raymond, Devin Sieger, Chris Lowe, Dave Raymond, and Mike Graham.  -- June 16, 2020

Playing in the Youghiogheny River.  -- June 16, 2020

Shalice Gull and Jackie Raymond enjoying the Yougiogheny River.  -- June 16, 2020

Alex and David Raymond.  -- June 16, 2020

Using my ever-so-handy Purple Lizard Map I mapped out a super cool (and at times super steep) seven mile hike for us to do.  After our discovery last year of Jonathan Run Falls I knew that it had to be included in our hike this year.   From our campground we made our way down the ridge towards Jonathan Run Falls.  Again, with the water levels significantly lower than they were last year we were able to explore the area around the falls so much more.  This has become my favorite area in Ohiopyle.  It is secluded and far enough away from the main town that very few people make the trek to it...and it is absolutely beautiful and peaceful.  I could have stayed there all day... but onward on our hike.  Which, by the way, then make its way up the next ridge on Mitchell Field Trail and then back down to Jonathan Run and up to our campgrounds.  

Jonathan Run Falls at Ohiopyle State Park.  -- June 17, 2020

Jackie and Alex Raymond climbing down to Jonathan Run Falls.  -- June 17, 2020

Jackie Raymond climbing down to Jonathan Run Falls.  -- June 17, 2020

Alex Raymond and Mike Graham climbing down to Jonathan Run Falls.  -- June 17, 2020

David and Jackie Raymond exploring Jonathan Run.  -- June 17, 2020

Jackie Raymond exploring Jonathan Run.  -- June 17, 2020

Alex Raymond-- June 17, 2020

Mike Graham and Dave Raymond having a blast at Jonathan Run in Ohiopyle. -- June 17, 2020

Dave Raymond  -- June 17, 2020

Alex Raymond, David Raymond, Devin Seiger, Jackie Raymond, and Mike Graham at Jonathan Run in Ohiopyle State Park.  -- June 17, 2020

Going out on a ledge with Mike Graham.  -- June 17, 2020

Super hero poses while exploring Jonathan Run in Ohiopyle.  David Raymond, Devin Seiger, Alex Raymond and Jackie Raymond.  -- June 17, 2020

Hiking up Mitchell Field Trail.  -- June 17, 2020

Steps heading up a steep incline on Mitchell Trail in Ohiopyle State Park.  -- June 17, 2020

  Jackie Raymond navigating Mitchell Trail.  -- June 17, 2020

The whole crew on Jonathan Run Trail.  -- June 17, 2020

I completely got my "nerd" on during our excursions to the sites that encompass Fort Necessity National Battlefield.  Fort Necessity, an opening battle of the French and Indian War, is mostly known because a young (and arrogant) George Washington was soundly defeated by French and Native forces after constructing what was, in effect, a deathtrap of a fort.  His "fort of necessity."  It would be the only battle in which George Washington ever surrendered.  Why did he need a fort of necessity, you may ask?  Because a few weeks prior he, and his Native allies, massacred a group of French diplomats who were camping under a rock outcropping 10 miles from the site of Fort Necessity.  The area, which has become known as Jumonville Glen, is considered to where the first shots of the French and Indian War were fired.  This secluded area, with its rugged beauty, is a super cool hike for anyone who loves both nature and history.  Today, Route 40 connects Fort Necessity and Jumonville Glen.  Along that section of road you  can also find the final resting place of British general Edward Braddock who was sent to North America to defeat the French.  A year after the debacle at Fort Necessity, Braddock blundered into a force of French outside of what is now Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Mortally wounded he passed away after five agonizing day.  He was buried under the road with none other than George Washington presiding over his makeshift funeral service.  The army marched over the grave to eliminate any trace of it.  Braddock's remains were found in the first decade of the 19th century and were reinterred a few feet away.  A large monument, clearly visible from Route 40, marks his final resting place to this day.

Exploring Jumonville Glen with Mike Graham.  -- June 18, 2020

Jumonville Glen...the site of the beginning of the French and Indian War.  -- June 18, 2020

Jackie Raymond, Alex Raymond, David Raymond, and Devin Seiger at Jumonville Glen. -- June 18, 2020

Fort Necessity National Battlefield. -- June 18, 2020

Dave Raymond and Mike Graham at Fort Necessity National Battlefield.  -- June 18, 2020

Life inside of Fort Necessity.  -- June 18, 2020

Shalice having fun with the swivel gun at Fort Necessity.  -- June 18, 2020

Paying respects at the grave of British general Edward Braddock.  -- June 18, 2020

Table marking the original grave of Edward Braddock.  -- June 18, 2020

Usually, our final full day at Ohiopyle is dedicated to just relaxing by the river....but first I was able to sneak in a mountain bike ride.  The kids were kind enough to drop me and my bike off on top of the mountain so that I could get a good mountain bike ride in.  For years I have been eyeing up a trail head that we pass on the way out of the town.  Canyon Edge Trail proved to be a super fun single track which connected to a trail that I had ridden a few years ago.  From there I made my down the ridge and met the kids at Baughman Rock Overlook to take in the view.  To get to the town down below the kids took my truck and I took my bike down Baughman extremely fun down hill that drops over 800 feet in 2 miles!  The trail empties out right near the general store...a perfect place to meet everyone for some ice cream and then relaxation at the river.

Enjoying the view from Baughman Rock Overlook in Ohiopyle State Park.  -- June 18, 2020

Devin and Alex taking in the view of the big falls at Ohiopyle.  -- June 18, 2020

Shalice Gull enjoying some peaceful time by the river.  -- June 18, 2020

Jackie Raymond exploring the Youghiogheny River.  -- June 18, 2020

Uncle Dave and Jackie in the Youghiogheny River in Ohiopyle.  -- June 18, 2020

Uncle Dave and Jackie in the Youghiogheny River in Ohiopyle.  -- June 18, 2020

Riding on the Great Allegheny Passage.  -- June 15, 2020

The Great Allegheny Passage in Ohiopyle State Park.  -- June 15, 2020

Canyon Edge Trail in Ohiopyle State Park.  -- June 18, 2020

Relaxing by the river after a mountain bike ride.  -- June 18, 2020

I'm writing this post exactly a month after my trip to Ohiopyle.  It is mid July and I've already begun planning next summers trip back to Ohiopyle State Park.  That is how much I look forward to it and how much the place means to me.  In the one hour I am leaving for my next camping trip.  This time to Rocky Gap State Park with my beautiful wife, Robin, to celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary.   Covid-19 has put a damper on a lot of my wife and I are headed out to do what we do best...enjoy each others company uninterrupted for five days.  I can't wait.
I sincerely hope, if you are reading this, that you and your loved ones are having a safe and healthy summer.

Welcome to Ohiopyle!  Loving some post-mountain biking ice cream. -- June 18, 2020

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- July 17, 2020

No camping trip to Ohiopyle is complete without breakfast at the Maywood Grill.  This year, we stopped just before we headed home.  Social distancing rules required us to get it to go and eat outside...but it was awesome just the same! -- June 19, 2020

Feel free to FOLLOW me on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM

Here are the GARMIN maps and data from the rides and hikes featured in this post.  #OptOutside2020

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