July 14, 2021

Seven Points about Seven Points - Raystown Lake, Pennsylvania

A quick housekeeping update:  Subsequent to my transition from Feedburner to Follow.It for your email subscriptions, there was a bit of difficulty with several of your email addresses.  The folks that staff the Help Desk at Follow.It were extremely courteous, professional and, well, helpful.  I believe that the glitch has been corrected, but I’ll be following up with the individuals affected to be sure that new posts are being delivered to their Inboxes.  I would ask all of you who subscribe via email to please pass along any feedback you wish and, of course, let me know if you run into any trouble on your end.  I believe all is well at this point, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it stays that way.

Also, please note that, despite my best efforts to determine the reason, John Hinton’s blog, "On the Road of Retirement," is no longer updating.  It stopped updating before I transitioned to Follow.It, so I don’t think I lost him there, and I’ve deleted the blog and added it back but, still, no dice.  Be assured that John is actively writing; he and his wife, Sharon, are in New Mexico as I draft this post.  Last item . . . Although Bob Lowery is no longer publishing new posts on his "Satisfying Retirement" blog, you can still access a wonderful list of mostly retirement-related blogs from his site.   So, even though publication has ceased, I'm leaving "Satisfying Retirement" on my blog roll for your (and my) reading pleasure.  Now, on to today’s post . . .

According to HuntingdonCountyHistory.com, “Raystown Lake is a reservoir in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. It is the largest lake that is entirely within Pennsylvania. The original lake was built by the Simpson family of Huntingdon as a hydroelectric project. The current 8,300-acre Raystown Lake was completed in 1973 by the Army Corps of Engineers.  Raystown is around 200 feet deep in the deepest area near the dam. The lake was created primarily to control floods, provide electricity, and support recreational activities.”

Friends told us about Raystown Lake years and years ago.  They said it was our kind of place.  Unfortunately, it’s just far enough from home that it wasn’t really feasible for a weekend jaunt while we were working.  Since Alan and I escaped from the workforce, we’ve had so many other destinations on our travel list, the lake never quite worked its way into priority status.  That changed this spring when cabin fever reared its ugly head.  I was poking around trying to find the perfect spot for a quick getaway that one of us desperately needed.  (Yeah, okay, that would be me.)  I thought of Raystown Lake and Seven Points Campground, the Army Corps of Engineers facility located directly on the lake.

I was surprised to find a number of campsites still available despite the fact that I was looking to book just a month or so out.  Admittedly, most of them were not particularly enchanting, but there was one site that looked lovely – and it was directly on the lake.  I always offer up my sympathy and a heartfelt thank you whenever I come upon what I’m pretty sure is a fellow camper’s cancellation.  Site 213 was a lucky find, and don’t I know it.  I promptly booked it for the four nights it was available and immediately began looking forward to visiting the lake we’d been hearing about for years.

The view from site 213 in the Senoia Loop

If you’re a regular reader, you know we LOVE Army Corps of Engineers (COE) campgrounds.  Why?  Well, they’re always situated on a body of water.  As both campers and boaters, COE campgrounds appeal to us because they usually allow us access to those two activities which we enjoy immensely  Even if we don’t have our power boat or kayaks with us, we’re quite content to watch whatever is going on on the water whether it’s tugs pushing barges along a river, pleasure boaters out enjoying a beautiful day or simply ducks paddling around looking for the tastiest of bugs.  (It doesn’t take much to make us happy.)  Plus, COE facilities are always well-designed and provide ample space in a comfortable setting – level sites, nice picnic areas, even lantern hooks are often available.  We’ve not been to a COE campground that we haven’t liked or to which we wouldn’t return.   Seven Points on Raystown Lake was no exception.

Seven Points about Seven Points

Point 1.  The campground is huge.  It has over 250 sites spread out over six loops.  Many sites have electricity.  Seven Points even has its own Visitor Center.  The first time we drove through, we missed our loop and had to drive the entire one-way circle again to get back to it.  Three hours later, we arrived at our site.  Well, not really, but you get my point – this place is BIG.  This is the first campground we had ever seen with a four lane dump station.  Nicely done!

Point 2.  There is a good sized marina on site – and it looked pretty darn full when we were there back in early May.  Interestingly, houseboats were plentiful.  Raystown Lake is almost 28 miles long and it’s narrow, and it seems to be a great place for all water sports.

Houseboats a-plenty

Point 3.  If you bring your boat with you when you camp or come in on a day pass, you can take advantage of a boat launch that’s separate from the marina.  There’s plenty of parking for boat trailers and there’s a restroom just a short walk up the hill from the parking area.  Again, nicely done!

Amazing boat launch . . .

We prefer to check out a campground prior to bringing our power boat since it involves traveling with two vehicles, one to tow the travel trailer and one to tow the boat.  Since this was our first visit to Seven Points, we brought our kayaks, but not our boat.  If we had, I’m not sure where we would have been able to store it.  Our campsite didn’t have enough flat real estate to park the boat trailer, and I didn’t think to ask if we would be allowed to leave the boat and trailer in the boat trailer parking area overnight.  If that wasn’t an option, then what?

. . . with a huge lot for boat trailers

Point 4.  The campground has a paved trail connecting the many sections of the facility.  I like the safety aspect of having an “off-road” option for walking and biking, and consider this a thoughtful and useful feature.  Yup, nicely done!

Nice biking and walking trail, yes?

Point 5.  The Most Intriguing Feature Award, however, goes to the Raystown Mountain Bike Skills Park, a two acre “practice area” consisting of a series of berms, natural and wooden features and small vertical drops.  The Skills Park is located directly across the road from the Visitor Center.  I thought it an odd addition to a campground facility but mountain biking is quite popular in the area.  In fact, we met a fellow camper who said he and he wife camped at Seven Points several times a year because they loved being able to access mountain bike trails directly from the campground.  Who knew?!  And how many times can I say, “Nicely done!” in one post?!

Point 6.  The staff may or may not be appropriate ambassadors for the Army Corps of Engineers.  With the exception of our stay at the Ortona Lock COE on the Okeechobee in Florida, we’ve found COE campground hosts to be exemplary.  At Seven Points on Raystown Lake, I was a bit taken aback by the attitude of the staff member who checked us in.  First of all, check in time is at 5:00 p.m.  Guess what.  That’s when the office closes.  What’s with that?  When we stopped by the morning after our arrival to check in, the guy who was staffing the check in window never once looked up at me from his computer.  He asked a couple of basic questions, handed me a tag and told me to put it on the post at our site and that was that.  No do you have any questions.  No enjoy your stay.  Not even the ubiquitous “have a nice day.”  And what’s with THAT?!  Maybe the guy was having a really bad day or battling personal problems that had nothing to do with work, and I did try to give him the benefit of the doubt.  It was so unlike our experience with other COE campgrounds – and rather disappointing, too.  He was the only staff member with whom we had any contact, so I don’t want to condemn the staff or the customer service (or lack thereof) based on one person.  Sadly, though, the encounter did leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Point 7.  That brings me to the last of my seven points about Seven Points – the campsites.  We all know that a campsite can make or break a camping excursion.  Get a good one, and you can enjoy a little slice of heaven on earth.  Get a bad one and you can’t get your rig level, or you can easily borrow the proverbial cup of sugar by reaching out from your picnic table to your neighbor’s.  If you can even imagine this, I both liked and disliked the sites at Seven Points.  First of all, the living areas of the sites were both beautiful and functional, and the camping pads all appeared to be fairly level.  I didn’t like the fact the the pads were built up from the terrain around them, making them rather narrow.  We had barely enough room to open up camp chairs and the back of the trailer so that we could enjoy a cold drink and a snack.  Yes, we could have used the picnic table or the flat area around it but, I have to say, carrying food, drinks and any accompanying kitchen paraphernalia up and down the stairs got pretty old pretty quick.  So, while our location was perfect, the site itself was not the most comfortable.

We absolutely loved our view of the lake!

Second, because the campsites are cut into the very scenic hillsides around the lake, they’re built in tiers – or, at least, they were in our loop.  This means that many of them have a slight or partial view of the lake, but it’s from the nosebleed seats, and many had narrow pads like ours with the ground sloping away from them.  I’m thinking that it might be difficult for someone with disabilities to get around a site like this. Plus, if I had young children, I’d be somewhat concerned about their safety.  Not that young kids generally like to run around like Tasmanian devils or anything but, if they did . . .

Not much room to play - or store a boat trailer

The weather during our stay at Seven Points was not exactly conducive to an excellent camping experience.  Rain showers were prevalent and sunshine was scarce during our four night visit.  Of course, we campers are a hardy lot, and used to making the most of what we’ve got.  On the nicest of days, we met up with our friends Cliff and Diane, who live within driving distance of Raystown Lake, to bike a portion of the Lower Rail Trail.  (FYI, “Lower rhymes with “power.”)  Our friends are bicycling and ice cream enthusiasts just like we are, and we hadn’t seen them since the Outdoors RV East Coast Rally last August. We gratefully offered our thanks to the weather gods for allowing the happy meet up to go on as planned.  Of course, we were so busy having a good time that it never dawned on any of us to take photos.

The Lower Trail runs almost 17 miles from Canoe Creek SP in Hollidaysburg in Blair County to near Alexandria in Huntingdon County.  This ride held special meaning for me since a portion of the rail trail had been purchased from the old Penn Central Railroad.  My dad was a machine operator for Penn Central for a lot of years, and it was kind of cool to “ride the rails” along with him.

If Cliff and Diane are involved, you can pretty much guarantee the fact that ice cream will be involved, as well.  In this case, it was exceptionally delicious ice cream from the Penn State Creamery, delivered via cooler by our friends directly to our meeting spot on the bike trail.  I will not lie, nor will I offer an apology for our actions:  We all sat down with a spoon and we each ate an entire pint of ice cream for lunch.  Yes, we did.  It was super scrumptious and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Remember . . . "I can't believe I ate the whole thing?"

After biking with Cliff and Diane, Alan and I headed over to Canoe Creek State Park to check out the disc golf course.  John over at On the Road of Retirement, speaks so well of his and Sharon’s disc golf experiences, that he prompted Alan and me to pick up a couple of sets of discs and try our hand at it.  We’re definitely not great and, truthfully, not even good, but we’re having fun with this new to us sport.  The course at Canoe Creek looked like a good one, but threatening skies and subsequent showers limited our time there, so we didn’t get too far along.  Would we go back?  Absolutely.  Canoe Creek is a lovely State Park and the portion of the disc golf course we played was a-okay in our books.

Maps of the disc golf course were thoughtfully provided at the 1st hole.

So, what’s the verdict on Seven Points on Raystown Lake?  Well, it’s definitely too long a drive from home to make anything less than a four night stay feasible.  The lake is a popular boating mecca, but I don’t know that it’s worthwhile to drive two vehicles 5+ hours just to go boating in a beautiful location.  Although there are some gorgeous State Parks nearby, Raystown Lake isn’t a hotbed of tourist attractions.  It’s a quiet and lovely place to fish, boat and otherwise enjoy all kinds of water sports and the magnificent scenery around you.  All that being said, Alan and I decided that Seven Points would be a perfect spot to layover if we were looking for a good camping spot within a day’s drive from home, but it’s not someplace we’d head to for a stay of a week or two.  The final verdict:  The Army Corps of Engineers again impresses us with a well-designed, well-maintained campground in an absolutely stunning location.  Whatever you do, though, don’t spread the word.  While COE campgrounds have their following, it seems like the general camping public hasn’t caught on yet.  Maybe that’s a secret we can keep just between us.

Please note that there are TWO Seven Points Campgrounds within the Army Corps of Engineers campground system – Seven Points on Raystown Lake that we just visited in May and Seven Points Campground on J. Percy Priest Lake outside of Nashville, Tennessee.  We camped at Seven Points in Tennessee in the spring of 2019 and enjoyed an absolutely delightful stay.  Don’t tell anyone about that place either.  Wink, wink.



  1. That looks like a wonderful place to camp. The bike paths are calling my name. I've seen some recent pictures of Lake Mead out west and the water level is so dangerously low. Be happy with your well-filled lakes. Btw, I sent you a note regarding the links I received for this post. Hopefully that helps with your changeover.

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Janis - it's very much appreciated! I'm always grateful when we run into campground bike trails that are separate from the main roads. They're more pleasant to ride and so much safer. We never brought our bikes on our cross-country National Parks trips because we didn't want the kids riding Park roads which were often narrow and always busy with traffic. One of our favorite campground bike trails is at Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware. The loop trail brings you past some historic military buildings and right out to the ocean. Love that one!


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