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Lake Johnson

Lake Johnson is a 300-acre park surrounding the 150-acre lake on Walnut Creek in southwestern Raleigh.  One of the older parks in the city, it was established in 1952.  The trails around the lake are part of the Capital Area Greenway.  The lake is surrounded by two trails - one paved and one unpaved - that make a double loop around the lake of more than 5 miles.  The park is actually two parks - Lake Johnson Park and Lake Johnson Nature Preserve.  The Nature Preserve includes the southern portion.  Lake Johnson Park in the northern part has additional amenities including concessions and boat rentals.  The Waterfront Center offers rentals for a variety of boats that may be taken on the lake - canoes, kayaks, paddle boats, Sunfish sailboats, and stand-up paddle boards.

Contact Information:

4601 Avent Ferry Rd.
Raleigh, NC 27606

Phone: (919) 233-2121


There are several parking lots to access Lake Johnson.  To park near the dam, go south from Avent Ferry Road on Lake Dam Road.  It's about a quarter-mile on the right, before the bridge over Walnut Creek.  This parking lot provides access to the East Loop Trail right at the dam.  There are two parking areas on Avent Ferry Road.  The main parking area with access to both loops and the Waterfront Center is just north of the bridge over Lake Johnson.  The paved East Loop starts right at the center and the unpaved West Loop starts across the street.  The south parking area is across the bridge over Lake Johnson and to the left.  Both trails may be accessed from this trailhead as well.  Two additional parking areas are off Jaguar Park Drive - one at the Athens Drive High School athletic fields and one at the Thomas G. Crowder Woodlands Center, where the pool is located.  Use the map below to generate customized directions to any of the parking areas.




Lake Johnson has more than 5 miles of trails looping around the lake as well as access to Walnut Creek Trail.

Lake Johnson East Loop:

Length: 2.8 mi
Surface: Paved

Lake Johnson East Loop starts at the Waterfront Center.  Heading clockwise around the lake, the trail, which is also part of Walnut Creek Trail at this point, goes past the picnic shelters and follows the northern shore of the lake and past a couple of small coves.  The trail is wooded here, but there are houses close to the trail.  Approaching the dam, the trail enters a more open area and there is a split where left is Walnut Creek Trail and leads to the dam parking lot.  See my Capital Area Greenway page for more information on Walnut Creek Trail.  Across the dam is another split, where a sharp left leads to the parking lot and Walnut Creek Trail.  Past this split, the trail heads back into the woods and passes a short scenic loop.  As the trail gets closer to I-40 (you can hear the traffic), it gets quite hilly.  The trail then bears right, away from the interstate, and heads back towards the lake.  A short overlook loop to the right leads to a picnic area with views of the lake.  Just past this loop, the trail passes the south parking lot on Avent Ferry Road.  The trail departs from the woods once more and crosses the lake on a pedestrian bridge parallel to Avent Ferry Road and ends pack at the Waterfront Center.

Lake Johnson West Loop:

Length: 2.1 mi
Surface: Unpaved

Lake Johnson West Loop also starts at the Waterfront Center.  Hiking counterclockwise, the trail crosses Avent Ferry Road at the crosswalk (use caution as cars go fast on this road).  This portion of the trail is natural surface, following the north shore of the lake.  This is the western-most section of Walnut Creek Trail.  In a short ways, an unpaved trail to the right leads to the Lake Johnson Pool and Thomas G. Crowder Woodlands Center.  At the headwaters of the lake, a paved trail to the right leads to the parking lot at Athens Drive High School and Walnut Creek Trail ends.  The West Loop turns left and follows a boardwalk past the scenic headwaters of the lake.  After the boardwalk, the trail follows the shoreline through a wooded area.  There are a couple spots with nice views of the lake.  At the end of the unpaved section, the trail comes out at Avent Ferry Road at the south parking lot.  Cross the street at the crosswalk and pick up the East Loop.  Turn left and cross the pedestrian bridge to return to the Waterfront Center.

External Links:

City of Raleigh Parks and Recreation website: http://www.raleighnc.gov/arts/content/PRecRecreation/Articles/LakeJohnsonPark.html