Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Harvey’s Lake

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

Note: I have fallen way behind in my blog posts. I started this post sometime last week, about my ride Sunday 11/23. Between Thanksgiving, riding, and a hike, I have not had time to document my exploits. Hopefully, I can catch up soon.

I planned to ride to Harvey’s Lake, ride around the lake, and ride home. This would be a total of about 35 miles, which I figured was plenty given the increased effort required for riding in the mountains, and the fact that it was about 30 degrees. I figured I could do this ride in about 2 1/2 hours.

Boy, was I off target! I severely underestimated the amount of climbing I’d encounter — over 2800 feet, in what ended up being 27 miles of riding. This was my slowest road ride in a long time; never before have I ridden 27 miles and been gone nearly 3 hours.

I headed out a little behind schedule, and grabbed a light on my way out the door. I used my new GPS to navigate this route. I’ll probably do a full post on the GPS’s capabilities later; suffice it to say that it worked quite well. Here is a Google map with the route. Click on the map pins, each one is a photo. You can zoom and navigate the map, and see each photo associated with its location on the map.

View Larger Map

The ride started on familiar territory: I took the Back Mountain Trail to Trucksville, then rode on some new roads. I saw some interesting plants with red buds on them along the way. Maybe someone can help me identify these.

Red buds

Bud closeup

The trail is about 2 1/2 miles of gradual climbing, in this direction. But I was far from finished climbing. For quite a while, all I did was climb. It was slow going, but I have learned not to attack the climbs too vigorously; I have to pace myself.

Oak Street in Trucksville

Sutton Road

Scenery alongside Sutton Road

As I rode ever so slowly uphill on Sutton Road, I saw probably 10 deer cross the road and graze on a lawn by a bend in the road ahead of me. By the time I approached they had been watching me come their way for a few minutes, and they ran off into the woods. I hoped for a better glimpse of them, but I was moving slowly to begin with, and the road got a lot steeper once I reached the bend.

Curve in the road, with some deer toward the top of the photo (not really visible)

I made it past that steep climb, expecting some respite, but I didn’t get it. The grade let up a bit, but it felt like I had been climbing for ages at this point; in fact, looking back on it, the first seven miles of this ride were almost entirely climbing. It’s a mostly-gradual way to climb about 600 feet, but it wore me down quite a bit. Eventually I did get to ride downhill, briefly, then back up. I went through a few rolling hills, which were a welcome change from the constant climbing.

Finally, about to go downhill, momentarily

Before long I reached Huntsville, and rode by the very beautiful Huntsville Reservoir. It’s a very interesting lake, shaped like a bit like an oak leaf, with several inlets branching off in different directions. The road follows edge of the lake for a while, and it’s a lovely ride.

Huntsville Reservoir

Looking back, whence I came

Riding on lake’s edge

Mansion by Huntsville Reservoir

Another view of the lake, with several inlets visible

GPS and bicycle computer

Somewhere between Huntsville and Idetown, I saw some pretty scenes, the first a view from near a golf course, the second a cool old barn.

Idetown-Huntsville Road panorama
Idetown-Huntsville Road panorama


Eventually, after some more significant climbing, I reached PA Route 415, which would take me to Harvey’s Lake. I had some great views of layered mountains and a blistering descent for about a mile that had tears streaming from my eyes from the blast of cold air.

Descending on PA Route 415

When I reached the bottom of the hill (still at 1200 feet!) I was at Harvey’s Lake. I had planned to ride around the lake, but it was already nearly 4:00, and I knew I’d run out of light if I did so. I did stop to rest by the lake and look around a bit. As I took some photos, another cyclist rode up and started loading her bicycle in her minivan. I assume she drove to the lake, then rode around it. I was pleased to see another cyclist, since I have seen so few around here.

The Trucker by Harvey’s Lake

Harvey’s Lake Panorama




The lake was beautiful, and I wished I had time to ride around it. Alas, I had to head back. I was unsure how my GPS would handle my skipping part of the route, but once I headed back toward home, it simply continued to navigate from my current position. Nice. I had a big climb up Carpenter Road. It wasn’t overly steep at any time, but it was slow going. I stopped to look back at a couple of points during the climb — the view just kept getting better.

Climbing Carpenter Road

View of Harvey’s Lake, looking back a little bit into the climb

The view, looking back from near the top of the hill

At the top of the hill was the highest elevation of the whole ride, 1514 feet, and Sgarlat Lake, which appeared to be on private property. Part of the lake was frozen over, and there was a thin layer of snow on top of the ice, so there was a strange white band across the lake. Interestingly, TopoFusion lists this as Scarlat Lake, while Google Maps doesn’t have a label for the lake, but lists the road by the lake as Scarlet Lake. I wonder what’s up with the discrepancy.

Sgarlat Lake

A bit of snow lined the road as I started the descent on the other side of the hill. While the first half of this ride was mostly climbing, the second half was mostly downhill. I sure enjoyed the easy riding for a while. There were a few climbs, but nothing too difficult.

I found Stredney Road, a gravel road I’d like to explore sometime. In fact TopoFusion shows Harvey Lookout Tower on Chestnut Ridge; I should find out of there’s a way to get to it. There’s no obvious access point in either Google Maps or TopoFusion.

Snow-lined road

Stredney Road

Easy Riding

Farm scene

Descending toward Dallas, PA

St. Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Cemetery

More great downhill

Misericordia University

Church and cemetery

At some point I got turned around. I failed to follow the GPS properly, but I could tell I was headed in the right basic direction, just parallel to the road I was supposed to be on. I kept going and gradually worked my way back over. And it was getting fairly dark, but I had lights. No worries. I was getting a bit chilly as the sun set, but I knew I wouldn’t be out too much longer.

Dusk scene

Steep downhill

Soon I made my way back to the Back Mountain Trail. From here, it was a routine ride. It was good to be back on familiar ground, now that it was almost completely dark.

Back Mountain Trail

Car on 309, taken from the Back Mountain Trail

Back in town, and getting darker still

I couldn’t believe this ride was only 27 miles; it felt a lot longer, and I was gone for over 2 1/2 hours. I had guessed I would be able to complete the entire ride, including the loop around Harvey’s Lake, in about that time. I’m still not used to what these mountains do to my ride times. On the other hand, I was in no hurry; I just wish I could have ridden a bit further (even if my legs begged to differ, with all that climbing).

5 Responses to “Harvey’s Lake”

  1. Steve Says:

    The shrub with the red flowers is Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina). It’s native to the Eastern U.S. but seems to like forest edges and poor soil. Birds like the berries and disperse them. Supposedly you can make a lemonade like beverage from the berries. Berries or flowers are used in some Middle Eastern dishes. Most species are tropical or semi-tropical.

    Welcome to PA. I’m also a biker/hiker and lifelong (almost) resident of PA. Found your blog thru TBlasBiker’s blog (I live 1/2 from him) and read some of your wife’s today (interesting sense of humor). Feel free to ask questions about weird PA since we both live in the Applachia section of the state. 🙂

  2. furiousball Says:

    that shrub is super cool looking. i want to try some of that lemonade Steve describes above.

  3. Tim Says:

    Great entry even if it was delayed. The climbing stories scare me a bit. I’d be dead without the river flats around Louisville.

  4. Marty Says:

    Another great ride post – and don’t worry about getting behind. It happens to all of us (except Van, who has an amazing knack of posting with regularity). Great pictures – you make the area look really inviting.

  5. Ear to the Breeze » Blog Archive » Harvey’s Lake revisited Says:

    […] in November, I rode to Harvey’s Lake, but I didn’t have time to ride around the lake. This seems to be one of the quintessential […]

Ear to the Breeze is proudly powered by WordPress
Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS).