My parents first took my brother and I camping in 1981.  The preparation involved for our family camping trips was a sight to see.  Dad had a 1976 Subaru, in which he and my mom seemingly packed half of our household belongings.  On those first camping trips, my mom and dad really made sure that our campsite would literally be a "home away from home."  On the Coleman grill (while listening to her Neil Diamond tapes), my mom made pancakes for breakfast and dinners that consisted of meals such as spaghetti and beef stew.  It was like we were at home...but in some ways better.  It was on these trips, at the age of 7, that I was introduced to campfire food...hot dogs roasted over the fire, smores, and my all-time favorite, mountain pies.

My mother, Kathy Raymond, preparing dinner for us at Rocky Gap State Park. -- 1981

Left to right:  My father, Dave Raymond, me (age 7), and my younger brother, Jacob at Rocky Gap State Park. -- 1981

Our family continued to camp at Rocky Gap State Park, located in the mountains of western Maryland, for the next 8 years (ending in 1989 when they began to conflict with the busy high school sport schedules that Jake and I had).  As I child, I didn't view camping as a relaxing event....actually, just the opposite.  The days were filled with activities that I enjoyed with family, and, as we got a little older, the friends that mom and dad permitted us to invite to come camping with us for the weekend.  I remember fishing of the docks, swimming in Lake Habeeb, riding bikes, and canoeing with my parents.  Fun times...and great memories.

Camping cousins.  Left to right:  David Raymond (age 11),  Joshua Rendulic, Jacob Raymond, & Lucas Rendulic -- October 1984

 Canoeing with my Uncle, cousins, and father on Lake Habeeb in Rocky Gap State Park.  (Left to Right:  Uncle Ed Rendulic, Joshua Rendulic, Lucas Rendulic, David Raymond, and Dave Raymond) -- October 13, 1984

My father, Dave Raymond, at Rocky Gap State Park. -- August 1985

That's me...age 11...hanging out at our campsite. -- August 1985

Sitting around the campfire with my childhood bud, Reese Smith (left). -- July 1985

My mom making us dinner.  I'd bet money that my boom box on the right side of the pic is playing Neil Diamond's Hot August Night album! -- July 1986

I guess, by 1988, I had reached my moody teenage years (so sorry mom & dad).  Wish I still had those blue Chuck Taylors!  -- August 1988

In 2013, my wife, Robin, and I, revived the tradition of returning to Rocky Gap.  It's our Memorial Day get away.  It's a time for us to relax and recharge.  It's also a time for us to hike and enjoy the nature that we are immersed in.  This year Robin and I took an amazing  hike around Lake Habeeb and then down into the gorge that is below the lake's spillway.  As evident in the name...Lakeside Loop traces the entire perimeter of Lake Habeeb.  In it's entirety, Lakeside Loop is a five-ish mile hike that is marked incredibly well with orange blazes. The two mile section of Lakeside Loop that Robin and I hiked was lined with blooming mountain laurel and ample evidence of local wildlife. 

Hiking Lakeside Loop at Rocky Gap with Robin. -- May 26, 2018

Blooming mountain laurel in Rocky Gap State Park. -- May 26, 2018

Evidence of beavers near Lake Habeeb.  These stumps were near Lakeside Trails at Rocky Gap. -- May 26, 2018

Lake Habeeb as seen from the edge of Lakeside Loop. -- May 26, 2018

Lakeside Loop is marked with signs and orange blazes on the trees. -- May 26, 2018

Ultimately, the goal for the day was to take Robin to the spillway beneath the dam...which, if you didn't know any better, you'd think was a natural waterfall. The rocky trail leading into the gorge is easily accessed from a Shortcut Trail that runs up the ridge, away from the lake, and perpendicular to Lakeside Loop. It's about as visually simulating of a hike as you can imagine...rocks of all sizes, streams, and the distant sound of water crashing.  Making your way to the spillway requires you to leave the marked trail, head towards the sound of the crashing water, and climb over a few boulders.  It's only about 100 yards off the main trail and a nice addition to the hike.

Pausing beneath the Lake Habeeb spillway after hiking into the gorge at Rocky Gap State Park. -- May 26, 2018

The spillway beneath the dam at Lake Habeeb. -- May 26, 2018

The gorge beneath the Lake Habeeb spillway at Rocky Gap. -- May 26, 2018

The trail leading to (and out) of the gorge is steep and rocky...but very beautiful!  It's marked well with white blazes. -- May 26, 2018

Robin and I had a first on our trip to Rocky Gap this year.  As we wrapped up our hike...we decided to check out how much it would be to rent a canoe for a short time the next day.  My first canoeing experience was here, at Rocky Gap, with my parents.  I can remember going out with my parents and my brother.  There were also a few occasions when my Aunt Rosanne, Uncle Ed, and my cousins Josh and Luke would camp with us.  I specifically remember canoeing with them.  As for canoeing with Robin...it was a lot of fun.  I pretty much had a smile on my face the whole time as we traced very trails we hiked the previous day, paddled to the dam, and then back.  A few rain drops hit us along the way...but that just added to the experience.

Canoeing with Robin on Lake Habeeb. -- May 27, 2018

To me, the most amazing thing about Rocky Gap State Park is how, after all these years, it's still the same.  Everything is recognizable...the beach, the lake, the campsites, and the camp store are just as I remember them.  Sure...there are a few changes here and there...but the park that I remember as a child is the one I see when Robin and I return each year.  
This is why I love Rocky Gap State Park...and why Robin and I return each year.

The best new tradition that Robin and I started at Rocky Gap is inviting my father and Mary Jane to have dinner with us while we are camping.  I'm glad I can repay the experience to my dad...we have a lot of good memories here. Left to right:  Mary Jane, Robin, David, Dave (dad) Raymond. -- May 27, 2018

Life is a journey...not a destination.

One of the most awesome changes to Rocky Gap is the snack shop located between the camp store and the beach.  They serve ice cream and milkshakes.  My favorite way to wrap up an afternoon of hiking. -- May 26, 2018

Here is the GARMIN map and data from our days of hiking and canoeing at Rocky Gap State Park.

Happy hiking...Happy paddling!

Interested in 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.COMHIGH PEAKS HIKING, and PA PARKS and FORESTS FOUNDATION.



Unknown said…
I have 2 questions. First, does your mom still make dinner when she comes to visit at the campsite? Second, where would you recommend my family go for a hike that is not far (within an hour) from home. We've never hiked and I would love to get out there and explore the beauty of Pennsylvania, or Maryland.
Thanks for sharing your childhood memories. Nice pictures too!
Unfortunately, my mom passed away 15 years ago. I never got to make her camp fire food. I learned a lot from her though. I'm the cook now. Glad I can repay the experience to my dad and MJ (my step-mom).
You can read more about my mom here: https://www.alltrailsleadtoicecream.com/2018/05/morning-bike-rides-with-my-mom.html

As far as hiking...in the York area the trails are Rocky Ridge County Park are great for hiking...and you can't get lost. Other than that, my favorite place to hike is Michaux State Forest. Two places in particular: Pole Steeple and Tumbling Run. I wrote about that long ago when I first started this blog. Here's what I wrote. Hope it helps: https://www.alltrailsleadtoicecream.com/2015/08/hiking-tumbling-run-pole-steepleaugust.html
Anonymous said…
Thanks for the suggestions. RR would be really great to test the waters since it's so close.
I'm sorry to hear about your mom. It's great that your Dad can still come enjoy camp time with you.
I'll let you know when we try our first trail.