Life is one step in front of the other.  For those of us who mountain bike life can be described as the the continuous cranking of the pedals.  No matter if you choose to take a hike or to ride a's that sense of beauty, exhilaration, fun, and inspiration that propels us forward down the trail.  But...what about that trail that passes beneath our feet and disappears under our rolling tires?  I can't believe that I'm the only person who has ever paused to wonder who originally blazed it?  Who maintains it?  What historic figures may have traveled on it?  And...if the trail could talk...what would it say?... what stories could it tell?... and what advice would it give?

Possibly something as simple as this:




 Whether it be the colors of Fall, the sounds of waterfalls, the sun glistening off of the snow pack, or the fresh smell of Mountain Laurel in early is all around us.  Submerge yourself by walking forward on the trail and allow yourself to be enveloped with the bountiful beauty of nature.

In this picture I was riding into beauty.  On a solo ride at Rocky Ridge County Park I paused to take this amazing photo of the the sun shining through the autumn foliage.  -- November 8, 2019

Walking into beauty can sometimes mean walking over it, too.  In this picture I am helping my daughter, Blythe navigate a downed tree in order to cross Mountain Creek in Michaux State Forest.  -- August 1, 2018

My wife, Robin, and I literally walking into, and behind, Cucumber Falls in Ohiopyle State Park.  So beautiful! -- July 5, 2019


Staying on your path preserves the integrity of the forest and allows others to experience and enjoy the trail.  Using signs and maps are the best means for following your path.  Understanding and using landmarks can be vital to a success hike or mountain bike ride.   Small deviations from the marked path can easily lead you away from a planned destination, cause unnecesary stress, or throw you over your handle bars!

I'm so fortunate to have have Mike Graham in my life.  He is an amazing friend and colleague.  I enjoy our adventures together outside of the classroom....adventures like this hike on a section of the Appalachian Trail that passes through Michaux State Forest. -- August 14, 2019

Some trail markers are obvious...some like this carved tree near the Appalachian Trail...could easily be missed.  -- November 2, 2019

Following stacked rocks, or cairns, which mark the trail while hiking in Sedona, Arizona. -- February 15, 2015

I don't care what anyone says...maps are not stupid and they are not overrated...especially if it is your first time on a trail system.  It doesn't matter if it is an old fashioned paper map, a trail book, or even a sign like this one in Hershey, Pennsylvania...maps keep you on the trail.-- November 3, 2018

Brandon Shirk learned the importance of staying on the trail the hard way after taking a spill of of the trail and into mountain creek.  Somehow his phone survived the experience. -- June 25, 2019

Just inches off of the trail my front tire caught on a branch sticking off of a stump...flipping me off of my bike.  Thank goodness the landing was soft.  -- August 13, 2019

Always be a good steward of the trails.  Me and my bike in Shawnee State Park.  -- March 30, 2018


While touring Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, Robin and I decided to find a trail head so that we could hike and watch the sunset.  Little did we know that the trail head that we chose, Black Rock Summit, would lead us to one of the most beautiful and inspirational views I've ever seen.  It started as any typical trail...but as we began to move into an open area the most amazing view of the Shenandoah Valley came into focus in front of us.  We truly found beauty and inspiration around each turn.

Walking towards the sunset on Black Rock Summit Trail (part of the Appalachian Trail) in Shenandoah National Park. -- July 20, 2019

Coming out of the tree line on Black Rocky Summit as the sun begins to set in Shenandoah National Park.  -- July 20, 2019

When we began our hike on Black Rock Summit Trail, Robin and I had no idea of the spectacular view we would have of the Shenandoah Valley.  -- July 20, 2019


Enjoying the trail also implies the responsibility of being a good steward of the trail.  Taking care of the trails, knowing what the trail conditions are, and...if caught in a mucky mess...treading lightly around it.  Enjoying nature also entails preserving it for future, go on and tread...but tread lightly.

Treading lightly, and carefully, on the newly fallen foliage on Trail #7 in Rocky Ridge County Park. -- November 3, 2017

Robin and I treading carefully on a snow covered trail in Ricketts Glen State Park. -- November 16, 2019

Jackie, Robin, and Shalice treading carefully through a swampy section of trail on Rocky Gap State Park. -- May 26, 2019


Some of my best memories were forged in the woods and on the trail with my family and friends.  It's the memories created on the trails that my mind goes to when I day dream.  They are the stories that get swapped at the bike shop.  Those memories born on the trail are the moments in which the sense of family, love, friendship, and nature intersect.

Not just a good memory...but one of the best!  On a Sunday morning, eight years ago, I took Robin on a hike in Michaux State Forest and proposed to her on the rocks overlooking the forest.  -- June 24, 2012

Spending time with my son, Alex, and creating memories prior to his first year of college.  David and Alex Raymond in Michaux State Forest -- August 17, 2017

Creating memories with Mike Graham as we climbed Tumbling Run Trail in Michaux State Forest -- August 1, 2018

Every Tuesday in the summer, Matt, Tim, and I create memories while mountain biking in Michaux State Forest.  -- July 9, 2019

Creating memories with my nieces and my nephew on a hike across Round Top located in the Gettysburg National Military Park. -- July 26, 2019


Peaks and valleys.  For just about all of is defined by peaks and valleys.  We all have our ups and downs.  No one gets through this life unhurt.  It's how we deal with our successes and failures that define us. The scenery from the top is always amazing...but the strength we gain from the climb out of the valley is invaluable.

Climbing up the last few feet of Pole Steeple Trail in Michaux State Forest. -- November 4,  2017

Mike Graham pausing to determine the best path up Sunset Rocks Trail in Michaux State Forest.  -- August 14, 2019

Ups and Downs on the Hershey Trail System.  Ben Kelly, Dave Raymond, and Tim Sindlinger  -- December 21, 2019

Decending a trail in Michaux State Forest. -- June 25, 2019


This can be true no matter where you are but, on the trail, every step has to be deliberate and careful.  Nature, can be beautiful; yet, deceptively dangerous and unpredictable.  Respect the terrain, take proper precautions on the trail, and watch your step.

Having some fun with Alex while hiking in Gifford Pinchot State Park. -- January 1, 2019

My neice, Jackie, using rope and the exposed rocks and roots to navigate the final 40 feet of Jonathan Run Trail in Ohiopyle State Park. -- June 20, 2019

A black snake hiding in the green along the trail at Rocky Ridge County Park. -- September 15, 2017

Devin Seiger, Alex, and I on top of Pole Steeple vista in Michaux State Forest (as seen from Alex's drone). 

A special thank you and shout out to the good folks at YOUR TRUE NATURE for allowing me to use ADVICE FROM A TRAIL.  Their mission of honoring our beautiful planet by inspiring people to live their own true nature is something that I completely buy in to.  They inspire me to continue my commitment to spending as much time doing the things I love, in the places that I love, with the people that I love. I hope to see all of you on the trail soon.

Passing on ADVICE FROM A TRAIL... My mother and I in Ohiopyle State Park (1980) and my son, Alex, and I on the same rock in Ohioyple (2018)

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- January 24, 2020

My nieces were pleasantly surprised that when they go for a hike with Uncle Dave that all trails really do lead to ice cream.  David and Jackie Raymond after a hike at Rocky Gap State Park in Maryland --  May 26, 2019

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

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Avokat said…
That looks like a lot of fun.
Anonymous said…
Nice blog you have.! You and your friends are doing a great job by cycling around places. This was amazing. I like it. Keep it up. Try these places too :) Places to visit in America

Awwshh.. that black snake scared me. Anyways be careful with those snakes and bears when cycling through woods.