Showing posts with label Shawnee State Park. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shawnee State Park. Show all posts

Monday, December 31, 2018


There wasn't anything normal about 2018. It's been a year of extreme humidity, single digit temperatures, and more rainy days than I can remember in my lifetime.  Even on the "dry" days riding conditions were challenging,  at best.   Mud and water and more mud seemed to be the recurring theme of the the past year.  With the exception of a ride I took in Mesa, Arizona, I don't recall a single time this year when the trails were dry and dusty.   Regardless, the conditions didn't stop me (or my riding partners) opting outside to turn some pedals.  As a matter of fact, I rode (and cleaned my drive train) quite regularly and quite often.

My Stumpjumper nestled in low hanging clouds and resting on the sign in Michaux State Forest marking the border of Cumberland and Adams Counties. -- July 31, 2018

Throughout the course of 2018, I rode my mountain bike in, at least, sixteen different places...making my normal trips to places like Michaux State Forest, Swatara State Park, and Rocky Ridge County Park and returning to Patapsco Valley State Park and Camp Tuckahoe for the first time in a few years.  I also rode, for the first time, on the trails behind the Bedford Springs Hotel, the Bedford Heritage Trail, the Milton Hershey Medical Center Trail System, and in Shawnee State Park.  This year is the first year that I began to explore other riding options...using my mountain bike for road cycling when winter conditions just weren't cooperating.  Joining me this year were Mark Lentz, Chris Keller, Tim Sindlinger, Matt Linnane, Adam Zeigler, Ben Kelly, Brent Shirk, Mike Alicea, and my son, Alex.  No ride is a bad ride and all rides are fun in their own unique way...but the following ten rides stand out to me as the best of 2018.  I didn't list them in any particular order except that the ride I have in the #1 spot really was my favorite ride of the past year.  I wish a safe and happy New Year to all...and I hope to see all of my riding friends out on the trails again in 2019.  Enjoy!

#10. DESERT BIKE RIDE -- JUNE 10, 2018

On a brief visit to Arizona to see my brother and my nieces and nephew, I slipped out for morning ride (on my brother's 1990s Cannondale) in the Arizona desert.  The early morning temperatures had already reached 95 degrees and, about five miles out, I realized that my water bottle had fallen off of the bike.  Not willing to risk anything, I turned back for my brother's house.  This was, by far, the driest ride of 2018!

Taking a break during my morning ride in Mesa, Arizona. -- June 10, 2018

My brother's old-school Cannondale.  Superstition Mountain is visible in the distance. -- June 10, 2018



Alex and I didn't ride far...but any ride with my son is special.  The fact that it was also the last day of the school year made it even more memorable.  This is the only ride on my Roubaix that made my top 10 list this year.

Celebrating the last day of the 2017-18 school year with a road ride with my son, Alex. -- June 7, 2018



This late July ride in Michaux State Forest came the morning after a torrential rain (as did most of the rides this year).  The humidity was thick and the clouds were hanging extra low...completely surrounding the forest.  This ride included the best rock garden in Michaux, fun descents, twisty single track, and multiple stream crossings.

Taking a break after Tim, Matt, and I finished riding one of my favorite rock gardens in Michaux State Forest. -- July 31, 2018

The wet weather turned minor streams in treacherous crossings. -- July 31, 2018



So much of my childhood was spent at Shawnee State Park in Bedford County...but up until this past March, I had never ridden the trails there...making this "homecoming" ride super special.  I'm looking forward to going back and riding the trails in drier conditions.

I began, and ended, my first-ever ride in Shawnee State Park on Field Trail. -- March 30, 2018

This section of "trail" near Route 30 in Shawnee State Park was a massive mud pit. -- March 30, 2018

Field Trail overlooking Shawnee Lake. -- March 30, 2018


Mark showed me that not all "road" rides need a road bike.  Helping me channel my inner nerd, Mark took me on a super cool tour of York City to check out all of the old painted signs on the brick structures in the city.  Some were easy to read, like the Pullman's sign below, and some where not...but the ride ranks as one of the best of 2018.

Super cool graffiti and painted sign ruled the day. -- March 31, 2018

In the top right you can see the sign for York's Pullman's Automobiles. -- March 31, 2018



This year, the Winter Solstice happened to fall on the last day of school prior to Christmas break.  Because of my early dismissal from school, I was able to meet Ben Kelly at my house at 1:30 to drive twenty miles up to Harrisburg for a ride on the Parkway Trails.  Even though it was extremely muddy, this ride was my favorite ever on this trail system.  Ben and I rode as much as we could in the 2 hours we had before the sun set on the first day of winter.

Ben and I racing the sunset and enjoying a muddy ride in Harrisburg City. -- December 21, 2018

My Stumpjumper leaning on Harrisburg City graffiti. -- December 21, 2018

#4. BEDFORD SPRINGS -- JANUARY 13 and 14, 2018

My first two rides of 2018 were also the coldest of the year.  While visiting my father in Bedford, Pennsylvania,  I geared up for the single digit temperatures and headed over to the trails behind the Bedford Springs Hotel.  I had hiked these trails as a child...and as an adult...but this was the first time I had ever been there with my mountain bike.  The cold temps kept each ride down to about an hour in length, but the frozen landscape...and the coolness of riding someplace where I hiked in my youth...made these two rides some of the best of the year.

Pausing for a picture next to the frozen limestone spring near the Bedford Springs Hotel. -- January 13, 2018

Posing near Davey Lewis' Cave. -- January 14, 2018

Taking in the frozen landscape while riding the trails near the Bedford Springs Hotel. -- January 14, 2018



Matt came up with the idea of getting together for an "Ugly Sweater" ride...and hopefully it is a tradition we keep going.  Tim, Adam, Matt, and I got into the holiday spirit for what turned out to be the absolute muddiest ride of 2018.  The unrelenting rainfall turned the normally sturdy trails of the Hershey Medical Trail System into a peanut butter-like mess.  Very memorable!

First ever Ugly Sweater Ride.  Left to Right:  Matt, Dave, Tim, & Adam. -- December 2, 2018

Riding the Hershey Medical Trail System with my ugly sweater. -- December 2, 2018

This ride was, hands down, the muddiest ride of 2018. -- December 2, 2018


Brent and I have a tradition of heading out for a ride during the week between Christmas and New Years Day.  This year we made our way down to Patapsco Valley State Park.  I thought I had this place completely mapped out...but in the 2+ years since I was last trails have been built!  Valley View Trail is one of the coolest trails I've ridden in a long time!  I can't wait to get back there and ride it again.

Brent and I riding Valley View Trail in Patapsco Valley State Park. -- December 27, 2018

Taking a break near abandoned houses now located in the heart of Patapsco Valley State Park. -- December 27, 2018


My surreal solo ride in Ohiopyle State Park ranks as my favorite ride of 2018.  Alex dropped me off at the Sugarloaf trail head for the start of a crazy ride that took me around the Sugarloaf Area and then to McCune Trail.  The forest was completely engulfed by low hanging clouds and streams of water from the down pour that soaked the area the night before.  McCune trail, lined with enormous boulders, will be a must ride for me from now on.  I took Baughman Trail (which was, at that point, a flowing river) down the mountain to the town of Ohiopyle.  After pausing for some ice cream, I rode the Great Allegheny Passage to the the trail that acts as a connector between the GAP and Kentuck Knob Campgrounds.  The whole ride was so perfect...making it my favorite of 2018!

Riding McCune Trail in Ohiopyle State Park. -- June 21, 2018

The shear size of the boulders which lined McCune Trail in Ohiopyle State Park is amazing! -- June 21, 2018

My Stumpjumper at the base of the two-mile-long Baughman Trail in Ohiopyle.  The trail was literally turned into a small river from the rain that fell the previous night! -- June 21, 2018

Celebrating my ride in Ohiopyle State Park with an ice cream cone from the Ohiopyle General Store. Photo by Alex Raymond. -- June 21, 2018

Hanging my soaked and muddy gear from our cabin's railing to dry in the June humidity. -- June 21, 2018

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- December 31, 2018

The best ice cream stop of the year was after my final mountain bike ride of 2018.  Brent and I stopped at the Ice Cream Cottage in Arbutus, Maryland after riding Patapsco Valley State Park. Not only do they have some of the best ice cream...but the nice lady behind the counter makes amazing roast beef sandwiches! -- December 27, 2018

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Here are the GARMIN maps and data from my favorite rides of 2018.  #OptOutside

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 


Monday, April 2, 2018


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 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.

Field Trail...the first and last trail of my ride.  I knew that things were going to be slow and sloppy as I started off on the north side of the park.  The trail ran parallel to Route 30 and crossed over smaller streams that feed into Shawnee Lake. -- March 30, 2018

My plan had me riding Field Trail until it intersected at the far end of the park with Felton Trail. -- March 30, 2018

The route I had mapped out had me turning off of Felton Trail (which would have eventually looped me back to Field Trail).  Pigeon Hills Trail was a super cool ride that gained a lot of elevation as it made it's way along the ridge above the lake.   Probably the coolest part of Pigeon Hills Trail was when it made a sharp right down towards the dam.  That section of trail was part of the original Forbes Road cut by the British army in 1758!  --  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 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.

The entrance to Shawnee State Park located on The Lincoln Highway (Route 30) just outside of Schellsburg, Pennsylvania.  The abandoned building on the other side of the street was once the Frosty Bear Ice Cream Drive-In and Gas Station.  It was a favorite place to stop after a summer day at Shawnee State Park. -- March 30, 2018

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.


Saturday, March 11, 2017


A couple of years ago, Mark and I were mountain biking near State College, Pennsylvania.  We began our ride from a parking area in Penn Roosevelt State Park.  I'm not sure if Mark's car was the only car there when we began our ride...but for some reason, as we wrapped up our day on the trails, I took notice that it was.
Mark Lentz and David Raymond riding near State College, Pennsylvania.  We began this amazing ride in Penn Roosevelt State Park -- June 28, 2014

With the bikes on top of the car and with less sweaty clothes on, Mark and I walked down below the parking are to explore the near empty lake and the dam that contained it.  I remember Mark walking towards the lake and I headed out to the dam.  All around me I saw empty picnic tables and signs put up by the DCNR which were meant to educate the  public on the plant life and wildlife which is native to the area.  My mind raced back to my childhood and the amount of time my family spent at Shawnee State Park in Bedford County and Ohiopyle State Park in Fayette County.  Memories of picnics, charcoal grills, hiking, exploring, and family time.  Again...the realization that our car was the only one there came to the front of my head...and I asked, out loud, if people still made use of the state parks like we did 20-30-40 years ago.  Was this park always this empty now...or is it possible that we just happened to be there late in the afternoon on a Tuesday?

My bike and Mark's bike in the parking area of Penn Roosevelt State Park -- June 28, 2014

Mark's Mini is the only car there -- June 28, 2014

An empty Penn-Roosevelt State Park -- June 28, 2014

 If you live in Pennsylvania then there's a pretty good chance that you are currently within 50 miles of one of the Commonwealth's 121 State Parks.  I'm not sure if that is most in the nation...but it's got to be near the top.  Combined, Pennsylvania's State Parks offer over 200,000 acres for hiking, camping, picnicking, fishing, hunting, wildlife watching, and yes....mountain biking!  From my house in Manchester, PA, I'm only 18 miles from Sam S. Lewis State Park, 22 miles from Gifford Pinchot State Park, 24 miles from Codorus State Park, 52 miles from Swatara State Park, and 57 miles from Pine Grove Furnace State Park.  That's pretty cool!

This map shows you the 4 regions in which Pennsylvania is divided and the locations of Pennsylvania's State Parks.  Click HERE to access the DCNR website that will help you locate a State Park near you!

Valley Forge State Park (now Valley Forge National Historical Park) was the first state park in Pennsylvania.  In 1893, Pennsylvania's governor, Robert E. Pattison, signed Act 130 "for the acquisition of ground at Valley Forge for a public park."  This act also created a commission that would work to acquire more land for public use.  In the early 20th century, Joseph T. Rothrock headed the Commission of Forestry.  As a medical doctor and a forester, Rothrock set up camps in the parks for people suffering from respiratory illnesses.  Following the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps established 113 CCC camps in Pennsylvana (2nd only to California) and, along with helping to fight fires and build roads, helped to create many of Pennsylvania's State Parks.  

Visiting Valley Forge Military Park -- May 2017

Hanging out with General "Mad Anthony" Wayne at Valley Forge Military Park -- May 2017

So...back to the question I had while exploring Penn Roosevelt with Mark on that June day in people still use the parks like they use to?  The answer, in my opinion, is a resounding YES...and here's the proof:  
  • I have no trouble remembering the first time Mark took Timmy and I to Michaux...Memorial Day weekend 2006.  After a hard mountain bike ride we passed through an extremely crowded Pine Grove Furnace State Park (I can still remember salivating when we pedaled through the smell of the hotdogs cooking over charcoal grills).  
  • I dare you to try to find a parking spot near the Natural Water Slide in Ohiopyle State Park on a Saturday or Sunday!
  • Go ahead, just try to find an empty camp site anywhere in Pennsylvania on Memorial Day weekend.  Good luck with that.
Over the past 40+ years I've been to a bunch of State Parks for a variety of reasons with a variety of people.  Here are (in no particular order) all the Pennsylvania State Parks I've been to (so far)*...with a few of my memories attached.  Hope you enjoy!


Penn Roosevelt State Park is a small, 41 acre park, located in the Seven Mountain Region near State College, PA.  All of the pictures are from a ride Mark Lentz and I took in Rothrock State Forest which surrounds the park -- June 28, 2014


For me, Pine Grove Furnace and mountain biking go hand-in-hand.  Since 2006, we've used the parking lot and picnic area of the park, as a launching point for 99% of our mountain bike excursions in Michaux State Forest.  This 696 acre park is located in an area known as South Mountain (the northern tip of the Blue Ridge Mountains).

Top to Bottom//Left to Right:  Our mountain biking gear after one of our first rides in Michaux (2006); Bill Graves and Mark Lentz washing up after a day of riding (2006); packing up the vehicles after our last summer ride (August 2016); Dave Raymond & Mark Lentz on a ridge overlooking Pine Grove Furnace (July 14, 2014); Post ride grilling (July 24, 2014)


I'm not sure where to begin!  Ohiopyle has been a family tradition for more than 70 years!  My parents began bringing my brother and I to Ohiopyle when we were very young.  I've made a point to continue the tradition and it's become a favorite place for both my wife, and my son.  Located on the Laurel Ridge in southwestern Pennsylvania, Ohiopyle State Park is 20,500 acres of pure awesomeness!  Hiking, camping, mountain biking, white water rafting...if you want's probably there!

Top to Bottom//Left To Right:  Me mountain biking Sugarloaf Trail (2006); Taking on the Natural Water Slide (July 18, 2014); My son, Alex, and I near Cucumber Falls (July 14, 2015); Cooling off in the Yough! (2006); Hiking with my wife, Robin (May 24, 2015); Amazing pic of me near Cucumber Falls (July 14, 2015); Robin and I (July 20, 2014); A visit from Mary Jane and my Dad while camping (June 17, 2016); "Hiking" with my daughter, Emma, near Cucumber Falls (July 18, 2014); My son, Alex, taking on the Natural Water Slide (July 18, 2014); and Alex skipping rocks (July 14, 2015)

Videos Below:  Taking on the Natural Water Slide (July 18, 2014) and the main falls at Ohiopyle (July 19 & 20, 2014)
To see how much of a family tradition Ohiopyle has been be sure to read PASSING ON OHIOPYLE and OBSERVATIONS FROM OHIOPYLE.


Shawnee State Park is the park of my "growing up in Bedford" childhood.  I remember summer mornings, boarding a school bus, and heading out for swimming lessons at Shawnee Lake...the focal point of the the 3,983 acre park.  As an adult, I've ridden my road bike out there from my dad's house in Bedford and taken hikes with my wife, son, dad, and step-mom.

Left to Right:  My bike near Shawnee Lake (July 10, 2015); Fourth of July hike with dad, Mary Jane, Alex, and Robin (July 4, 2014)


Poe Valley State Park is a 620 acre park located near Bald Eagle State Forest in Centre County, Pennsylvania.  Mark and I were just a couple of "poe" boys mountain biking there on our last day of riding in the forests around State College, PA -- June 29, 2014


Point Park State Park is located at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers in Pittsburgh, PA.  Known as the "Forks of the Ohio" this ground was the site of France's Fort Duquesne and then Great Britain's Fort Pitt.  This strategic piece of North America was key to the control of the fur trade in North America and was fought over by the French and the British in what we know as the French and Indian War (globally known as the Seven Years War) -- July 2014


Encompassing 2,338 acres of land in York County, Gifford Pinchot State Park is ideal for boating, fishing, and camping.  I've ridden my road bike through the area numerous times.  I've been part of quite a few summer time "teacher debriefings" at Pinchot with colleagues.  My wife, Robin, and I also took my nieces Jackie and Sophie there on their first camping trip!

Top to Bottom//Left to Right:  Mike Ritts & Pedro Mena winding down after a long school year (June 2013); Preparing dinner (June 2013); Mike Ritts & David Raymond (June 2013); Sophie, Aunt Robin, Jackie, and Uncle Dave enjoying the campfire (July 2014); Sophie & Jackie Raymond (July 2104); Robin and David Raymond (July 2014)
ADDED ON DECEMBER 27, 2017 -- Mark Lentz and David Raymond.  My first mountain bike ride at Gifford Pinchot State Park.  Loved the 20 degree weather!


Swatara State Park is a favorite mountain biking destination for the guys in our group.  Miles and miles of twisty, turny, fun single track!  The 3,520 acres that make up Swatara State Park are nestled in the Swatara Valley north of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Top to Bottom:  David Raymond & Tim Sindlinger (July 1, 2014); David Raymond, Tim Sindlinger, Matt Linnane, and Brent Shirk (September 5, 2015)

Below:  Video of David Raymond & Tim Sindlinger mountain biking in Swatara State Park (2015)


Greenwood Furnace State Park is on the western edge of the Seven Mountains in northeastern Huntingdon County.  The park covers 423 acres, including a six-acre lake, campground, hiking trails, and a historic district. The park provides access to backpacking, hiking, mountain biking, hunting, and fishing in the surrounding 80,000-acre Rothrock State Forest.  Mark and I passed through the park on multi-day mountain biking trip in the area around State College, Pennsylvania -- June 28, 2014.


Caledonia State Park straddles Adams and Franklin Counties.  The 1,125 acre park is surrounded by Michaux State Forest.  Just west of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Caledonia is a favorite destination for hiking, camping, and picnicking.  Mark Lentz and I explored the area on our mountain bikes on Columbus Day 2015.

Left to Right:  Robin & David Raymond (Memorial Day Weekend 2012); My 2011 Stumpjumper resting on the Thaddeus Stevens Iron Furnace (October 2015)


I first experienced Trough Creek State Park as a kid.  My mom and dad took my brother and I there for a picnic after a day of riding the water slides near Raystown Lake.  The 541 acre park, which cuts through Terrace Mountain, includes some super kool attractions such as a balancing rock, water falls, an ice cave, and a swinging bridge.  I've revisited the park twice as an adult.  First with Mark and Mikey after mountain biking the Allegrippis Trails near Raystown Lake and then on a brief hiking trip with my wife, Robin.

Top to Bottom//Left to Right: David Raymond on the swinging bridge (August 8, 2015);  Robin and I hiking in Trough Creek State Park (August 8, 2015); David Raymond, Mark Lentz, & Mikey Nardelli next to the balancing rock (October 14, 2013)


Promised Land State Park includes approximately 3,000 acres and is located on the Pocono Plateau (about 1,800 feet above sea level).  I was only there once...and I don't remember much.  In June of 2009, Kristian Hains, Jay Zech, and I participated in the Cradle of Liberty 24-hour Adventure Race.  It began in Promised Land State Park and was one of the toughest events I've ever participated in!


French Creek State Park is the largest block of contiguous forest between Washington, D.C. and New York City.  Located in the Schuylkill Highlands, the 7,730-acre park is perfect for hiking, fishing, camping, and biking.  The mountain biking in French Creek is some of the toughest around and it was the sight of the French Creek Fling 2-man adventure race.

Top Right:  Dave Raymond mountain biking the trails in French Creek (2009); Remainder of the pics:  Bill Graves and David Raymond in the 2010 French Creek Fling Adventure Race (October 10, 2010); 


Mark Lentz, Mikey Nardelli, and I spent 3 fun days mountain biking and camping in Raymond B. Winter State Park in July of 2011.  This 695 acre park is located within the extreme eastern edge of Bald Eagle State Forest.

Below:  Mikey taking on a wooden bridge near Raymond B. Winter State Park


Okay...this one brings out the complete NERD within me!  Buchanan’s Birthplace State Park is an 18.5-acre park nestled in a gap of Tuscarora Mountain in Franklin County. It is the site of the the birthplace of our nation's 15th president, James Buchanan.  I visited the park just last week with my wife, Robin, on our way home from my dad's house in Bedford.  No mountain biking... this small State Park offers picnic areas, trout fishing in Buck Run, and a chance for history teachers, like me, to completely get their NERD on!

Pennsylvania's state parks have been such a big part of my life.  Ohiopyle has been, and continues to be, a family tradition.  Shawnee brings back so many childhood memories.  Pine Grove Furnace has become, for me, synonymous with mountain biking.  The parks are beautiful...they are convenient...and, best of all, they are free to the public (even for all of you out-of-staters)!  Today, they are run through the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.  Improvements are constantly being made ( more smelly green bathroom at Pine Grove Furnace).  So...whether your thing is camping, or hunting, or hiking, or mountain biking...whether it's with your family, with your friends, or on your own...check out a state park near you.  The only money you'll need is for the ice cream on the way home because, in Pennsylvania, the OUTSIDE IS FREE!

Just me and Cucumber Falls in Ohiopyle State Park -- July 14, 2015 

Life is a journey...not a destination!

David A. Raymond -- March 11, 2017
Be sure to check out HIGHPEAKSHIKING.COM and all my other posts at ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM!

*State Parks that I visit after I post this will be added at the bottom.  Be sure to come back and check out other parks that I know I will eventually get to!

My mom, Kathy Raymond, helped PASSING ON OHIOPYLE to my brother and I -- November 1980

Here's a list of GARMIN maps and stats from a few of the rides featured in this post:


Located in southwestern York County, near Hanover, Pennsylvania, the 3,500 acres of Codorus State Park have been traditionally known for boating on, and fishing in, Lake Marburg.  Recently; however, Codorus State Park has become more and more popular with mountain bikers.  With almost 15 miles of trails (which also network with XC-ski/snowmobile trails) it is possible to put together some crazy fun loops.  With minimal elevation change, you can expect a twisty and fun ride.  Bottom pictured:  Dave Raymond riding Codorus State Park -- May 9, 2017


Colonel Denning State Park is located in Doubling Gap (named for the turn in Blue Mountain as it doubles back on itself)...adjacent to Tuscarora State Forest.  Colonel Denning State Park is named for William Denning...a Revolutionary War Sergeant (no one knows who unofficially gave him the title of Colonel) who manufactured wrought iron cannons for the Continental Army.  William Denning is buried nearby in the Big Spring Presbyterian Church cemetery in Newville, Pennsylvania.  Unfortunately, none of his cannons are still in existence.  Bottom picture:  Mark Lentz riding in nearby Tuscarora State Forest -- July 6, 2017