Destination PA: A tour of Raystown Lake

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HUNTINGDON COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Right in the heart of Central PA is what some call the crown jewel of the state, Raystown Lake.

Raystown Lake is located in Huntingdon County, Pa.

It’s the largest lake within the borders of Pennsylvania. It’s 28 miles long with 118 miles of shoreline. The entire area offers amazing things to see and do.

“The first thing that you see or that you are part of is just the natural beauty,” Allen Gwinn, a park ranger, said. “You get here and you look at the mountains and the green space and the blue skies and the blue water and it is just so beautiful.”

To see some of the best views you can head to Ridenour and Hawn’s overlooks. It’s a great place to take some beautiful photos of the lake before getting to enjoy some outdoor fun.

A view from Hawn’s Overlook

“Obviously we are a lake so there are a lot of boating opportunities, a lot of swimming opportunities, and fishing” Gwinn explained. “We also have world-class mountain biking in the Seven Points area, you can go to restaurants, you can eat locally, you can have picnics, all of the outdoor activities that you hear people talking about.”

Raystown Lake brings in more than a million visitors each year.

A popular stop is the Seven Points Marina, one of two marinas at the park. Seven Points is run by the Army Corps of Engineers and is home to many houseboats and other private boats. There is also a public launch for boaters and jet skis to be put into the water, a beach and plenty of room for fishing.

Leaving the Seven Points Marina with John Joivell from Joivell’s No Slack Guide Service

“I am a professional fishing guide on Raystown Lake,” John Joivell, from Joivell’s No Slack Guide Service, said. “I charter here. I’ve been doing it for 35 years and I charter people to come out for stripe bass fishing and lake trout fishing.”

There is also a nature center and many hiking trails close to the marina.

In 2009, the Allegrippis Trail System opened and has become acclaimed as a world-class mountain biking system. It includes 36-miles of trails with many features to challenge everyone from beginners to experts.

“Everybody wants to get outdoors,” Gwinn said. “Raystown Lake is the perfect place to get outdoors and do all of those things.”

The Proud Mary Showboat at Lake Raystown Resort

If you don’t have a boat, you can rent one at Lake Raystown Resort.

“We rent pontoon boats, small fishing boats and we also rent fun ships, which are double decker pontoon boats with the slide off the back,” Samantha Kozak, the co-owner & operator at Lake Raystown Resort, said.

Lake Raystown Resort is the only privately owned resort on the lake. In addition to boat rentals, they offer lodging, camping, cabins, food, and a conference center.

At the marina, you can get tickets to ride the Proud Mary Showboat which is a simulated paddle boat that is used for dinner cruises. They also have a water park that includes pools and water slides.

Brian Patterson, owner of Backwoods Smoke Shack

In addition to all the outdoor activities at Raystown Lake, you can also check out some great places to eat nearby, like the family-owned Backwoods Smoke Shack.

“I’ve been working on my brisket for going on 12 years now and just found a love for BBQ and started bringing the whole family along with me,” Brian Patterson, the owner of Backwoods Smoke Shack, said.

Raystown Lake is open all year, even in the winter. It’s about two hours from Harrisburg, three hours from Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and four hours from Philadelphia.

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