The area surrounding Raystown Lake in central Pennsylvania is special for many reasons, one of them being that it’s home to the Allegrippis Trails, which Singletracks rates as the 15th best trail system in the world. While Allegrippis woos riders with a fast, flowy, and fun stacked loop system that can be enjoyed by beginners and experts alike, another main part of its appeal is the largely undeveloped landscape which the trail system is a part of. Because the land surrounding the lake is owned by the Army Corps of Engineers and not private entities, the lake shores have remained relatively natural, with the exception of Seven Points Marina and Lake Raystown Resort, both of whom lease land from the Army Corps in order to provide recreational services to the region’s visitors.
But that may be about to change. A developer has proposed another resort and marina project, which would level what is currently a forested mountaintop and replace a pristine peninsula with boat slips. This mountaintop and peninsula are visible from the famed “vista” at the end of Ridge Trail at Allegrippis, a most popular spot for riders to take a break, enjoy the scenery, and maybe catch a glimpse of a bald eagle or two. From this vista, the view is currently that of forested hillsides leading straight to the shimmering water below, and a cragged cliff face here and there. If this resort project goes through, that view will include big buildings, a clear-cut mountaintop, and even more boats zipping by on an already high-traffic lake.
The proposed project also directly impacts the Terrace Mountain Trail, which is across the lake from Allegrippis, running along the ridge for the entire 30-mile length of the lake, going straight through the site of the potential future resort. The TMT was originally designed for hiking and spent many years in neglect, but it has recently been regraded so that it is more bike-friendly. The Raystown Mountain Bicycling Association (RMBA) took over maintenance of the TMT a couple years ago and have been working to make improvements with the hope that it will become a perfect complement to Allegrippis, for those looking for a slightly more difficult trail or an overnight bikepacking trip. A newly-constructed Adirondack-style shelter along the trail near the lake’s edge makes it an even more enticing destination for a quick getaway to those looking to spend an evening in the woods.
The prospective resort would jeopardize all those opportunities, ruining the currently-unspoiled pathway and forcing cyclists and hikers alike to navigate a human-built landscape in the middle of their journey through a natural one. Despite the services that such a facility may provide, such as more lodging, the costs far outweigh potential benefits. The Raystown Lake Region and Allegrippis Trails are so wonderful because they remain so undeveloped. As this project is still in preliminary planning stages, it’s still possible to put a stop to it. While some of the land that the proposed resort will be built on is owned by the private developer, the marina would be constructed on Army Corps land. If the Corps shuts down the marina plan, there would be no choice but to scale back the project considerably.
So what can you do?
If you’ve ridden Allegrippis and appreciated its forested setting, please send a brief message to the Army Corps urging them to consider the value of natural spaces. For now, the hope is to halt the project by providing significant community opposition.
You can send a letter to:
Nicholas Krupa, Operations Manager, Raystown Lake, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 6145 Seven Points Road, Hesston, PA 16647
or email: [email protected]
You can also follow the RMBA Facebook page for continued updates on this issue.