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Located in south central Pennsylvania and surrounded by the pristine mountains of the Alleghenies, Huntingdon County is home to Raystown Lake. At 30 miles long and with 118 miles of shoreline, this popular 8,300-acre body of water is considered one of the east’s largest manmade inland lakes.

Built as a flood control project between Huntingdon and Saxton from 1968 to 1975, Raystown Lake sits beneath Terrace Mountain to the east and Tussey mountain in the west. Woodcock Valley, once known as “Warriors Path” to Native Americans, lies to the north and south. It’s surrounded by more than 20,000 acres of largely undeveloped public land.

All boat sizes and horsepower are welcome on Raystown Lake. During busy weekends of July and August, insiders with smaller boats head to areas like Weavers Falls, Aitch, James Creek, and Snyders Run. Here, the lake’s abundant no-wake zones make for less busy boating.

Of course, Raystown Lake fishing draws many boaters. Known as a sometimes challenging lake to fish (because it’s steep and deep), potential catches include striped, largemouth, and smallmouth bass, lake and brown trout, catfish, walleye, and muskie.

Local guides are available to vastly improve the odds (ask for referrals at marinas or the two visitor information centers referenced below). Experienced guides who come with good references include: Clapper’s Guide Service (814-658-2122; www.clappersguide.com); Lunker Guide Service (814-669-8887; www.lunkerguide.com); Trophy Guide Service (814-627-5231; www.trophyguide.com); and Tim Grace Striper Guide Service (814-599-6754; www.striper-guide.com).

Water-skiing from spring to fall is also quite popular. Many glass-like sections can be found along the lake (especially mountainside), with insiders recommending weekdays or heading out very early or after 5pm on weekends.

The lake has an average depth of about 60 feet and is almost 200 feet at it’s deepest level. Since the lake rarely freezes completely, boaters can actually enjoy the lake year-round (the fall and spring are especially enjoyable).

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers charges a modest launch fee (currently $3) at the seven public launch ramps. For frequent visitors, an annual pass ($30) is available at the Ranger Offices in the Raystown Lake Visitor’s Center in the Seven Points Recreation Area. Along with the Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau (listed below), the Visitor’s Center is also a great source for boating, fishing, and other information once in the Raystown Lake area.

Several full-service marinas also make it easy on visiting boaters. The two best bets are Seven Points Marina (814-658-3074; www.7pointsmarina.com) and Lake Raystown Resort & Lodge (814-658-3500; www.raystownresort.com).

Since 1977, Seven Points Marina has offered a boatload of services to visitors on and off the water. Today, the options include: houseboat, utility, and ski pontoon rentals; varied public and private cruises or charters; all three meals at Snappy Chef‘s Lakeside Grille; and shopping at the Oar House Complex.

Over at Lake Raystown Resort & Lodge, the sprawling 400-acre facility includes: varied boat rentals; lots of lake tours; accommodations in a lakeside lodge, park cottage, cabins, or campground; a marina restaurant overlooking the lake; Wild River Waterpark; 19-hole mini-golf; and lots of special events.

Historic Huntingdon is definitely worth a visit. Architecture buffs will enjoy the old train station, the late-1800s J.C. Blair factory building, the interior of Boxer’s Café (built in 1865), the 1829 stone jail, the 1883 French Renaissance courthouse, and early-19th century homes along Penn Street and elsewhere. Be sure to stop by the Huntingdon County Chamber of Commerce at 500 Allegheny Street (814-643-1110; www.huntingdonchamber.com).

Along with an array of hiking trails throughout the area, other exploration options near Raystown Lake might include: Lincoln Caverns and Whisper Rocks (814-643-0268; www.lincolncaverns.com); Indian Caverns (814-632-7578; www.indiancaverns.com); Lakemont Park & Island Waterpark (800-434-8006; www.lakemontparkfun.com); DelGrosso’s Amusement Park (814-684-3536; www.delgrossos.com); Old Bedford Village (814-623-1156; www.oldbedfordvillage.com); and Swigart Museum (814-643-0885; www.swigartmuseum.com), the oldest automobile museum in America.

For further information, contact Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau (Raystown Lake Region), RD #1, Box 222A, Seven Points Road, Hesston, PA 16647; www.raystown.org. For information about the Alleghenies in general, visit www.thealleghenies.com.