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Raven Rock State Park

Raven Rock is a state park near Lillington in Harnett County, about an hour south of Raleigh and less than an hour north of Fayetteville.  The park is split by the Cape Fear River into north and south sides.  The park is currently 4,667 acres on both sides of the river.  Raven Rock sits on the fall zone, where the harder rocks of the Piedmont meet the softer rocks of the coastal plain creating a unique geological and ecological zone.

Over millions of years, flowing waters have worn down the land and formed Raven Rock, a crystalline rock that rises more than 150 feet above the Cape Fear River.  Originally called Patterson's Rock after the settler who initially found the rock, the name was changed in 1854 to Raven Rock, after the ravens that used to roost on the rock ledges.  In the 19th century, the region was important as a river crossing for the route between Raleigh and Fayetteville.  However, a hurricane destroyed the locks and dams in the mid 19th century and the area become popular for recreation.  In 1969, the General Assembly established the park and since then additional land has been purchased to increase its size.

Contact Information:
3009 Raven Rock Road
Lillington, NC 27546

Phone: (910) 893-4888

Email: raven.rock@ncdenr.gov

GPS Coordinates: 35.4597, -78.9127

Directions:

The entrance to the south side of the park is off US-421 just west of Lillington.  From US-1 in Sanford, follow US-421 south about 20 miles and the park will be on the left.  From I-40, take I-95 to US-421 and go north.  The park will be on the right about nine miles after passing through Lillington.  Use the map below to generate customized directions to the entrance.  Alternately, coming from the Triangle area, take US-401 S or NC-55 east to US-401 S to Lillington and turn right on US-421 north.

Map:

Raven Rock State Park

Hiking:

There are more than 10 miles of hiking trails in the park.  Trails are listed below.

American Beech Trail:

Length: 0.5 miles (loop)
Difficulty: Easy
Blaze: White Circle

American Beech Trail is a short interpretive trail near the old parking lot and picnic area.  The trail makes a partial loop, starting at the Raven Rock Loop Trailhead and ending on this trail and short distance past the trailhead.

Campbell Creek Loop Trail:

Length: 5.0 miles (loop)
Difficulty: Moderate
Blaze: Blue Circle

Campbell Creek Loop trial starts at the old parking lot, across from the main road.  It goes a short ways through the woods, with a short spur trail to the parking lot at the new Visitor Center.  The trail descends from here leading  to a footbridge across Campbell Creek.  Across the bridge, the trail splits to form a loop.  Heading right, the trail follows Campbell Creek downstream to Cape Fear River, then follows Cape Fear River upstream.  Lanier Falls Trail splits off to the right shortly the Family Wilderness Campground is just past that trail.  The trail then loops around through a forested area and back to the footbridge to complete the loop.

Campbell Creek Footbridge

Fish Traps Trail:

Length: 0.6 miles (one-way)
Difficulty: Easy
Blaze: Blue Triangle

Fish Traps Trail leads splits off from the Raven Rock Loop Trail about a half-mile from the trailhead if hiking in the clockwise direction.  Shortly after the trail starts, Northington Ferry Trail splits to the left.  Fish Traps Trail continues for about a half-mile leading to Cape Fear River at the Fish Traps.  The trail continues a short ways past fish traps leading to a view of the Northington Lock and Dam Remains.

Group Camp Trail:

Length: 0.4 miles (one-way)
Difficulty: Easy
Blaze: Orange Triangle

Group Camp Trail splits off from the far end of Little Creek Loop Trail near the canoe campground and runs less than a half-mile to the group campsite.

Lanier Falls Trail:

Length: 0.2 miles (one-way)
Difficulty: Easy
Blaze: Orange Triangle

The Lanier Falls Trail is a short trail splitting off the Campbell Creek Loop Trail that leads to Cape Fear River at Lanier Falls.

Little Creek Loop Trail:

Length: 1.5 miles (loop)
Difficulty: Easy
Blaze: Blue Hexagon

Little Creek Loop Trail splits off from the Raven Rock Loop Trail near the stairs leading down to Raven Rock.  It goes out to the canoe campsite and loops back around following the Little Creek back upsteam to Raven Rock Loop Trail.

Northington Ferry Trail:

Length: 0.9 miles (one-way)
Difficulty: Easy
Blaze: Orange Triangle

Northington Ferry Trail starts from Fish Traps Trail shortly after it splits off from Raven Rock Loop Trail and leads down to Cape Fear River just across Campbell Creek.  There is an old gravestone just off the trail about 0.6 miles down from the trailhead.

Raven Rock Loop Trail:

Length: 2.6 miles (loop)
Difficulty: Easy
Blaze: Orange Circle

The Raven Rock Loop Trail starts from the older parking lot and picnic area.  Following the trail clockwise, the trail turns right at a split with Fish Traps Trail.  After about a mile, there is a turnoff for an overlook on the Cape Fear River, then continues to a wooden staircase leading to the base of Raven Rock along Cape Fear River.  Continuing on the trail, there are two intersection with Little Creek Loop Trail and then it heads back towards the parking area.  American Beech Trail splits off to the left and rejoins the trail back at the trailhead.

Points of Interest:

Besides the park's namesake, Raven Rock, there are several other points of interest in the park, including a couple of "waterfalls".  While they're more rapids than actual waterfalls, these small "falls" along the Cape Fear River worth checking out.

Avents Creek Waterfall:

Avents Creek waterfall is a small 4-foot slide on the north side of the park.  To view the falls, continue on River Road about a half-mile past the bridle trail parking to a bridge over Avery Creek and park here.  Alternately, if hiking or riding the West Bridle Loop Trail, the trail crosses the creek on the road at this point.  The small waterfall is just upstream of the bridge.

Fish Traps:

Fish Traps is a rapid along the Cape Fear River roughly in the center of the park.  There is a big rock in the river with holes in the rock filled with water; hence the "fish traps".  From the older parking lot, follow Raven Rock Loop Trail to where the Fish Traps Trail splits and follow the trail down the stairs to the Fish Traps.

Fish Traps

Jumping Fish Falls:

Jumping Fish Falls is a small, but scenic, 5-foot waterfall on Avents Creek on the north side of the park.  From the bridle trailhead parking, get on the West Bridle Loop Trail and at the split, go left.  The trail leads gradually down to a ford of Avents Creek and the waterfall is just upstream of the ford.

Lanier Falls:

Lanier Falls is a rapid along the Cape Fear River in the western part of the park.  From either parking area, follow the Campbell Creek Loop Trail to the Lanier Falls Trail and go a short ways down this trail to the edge of the river.

Northington Lock & Dam Remains:

Northington Lock and Dam Remains are located just downstream of Fish Traps.

Overlook:

There is a nice overlook at the top of Raven Rock with great views of Cape Fear River.

Raven Rock:

Raven Rock, a 100-foot cliff along Cape Fear River, the park's namesake and most popular attraction.

Wildlife:

Wildflowers:

Raven Rock is known as a great place to see wildflowers in the spring.



Birds:

Ruby-throated hummingbirds live in the park.  You might see them at some of the wildflowers, but the best place to find them is at the feeders right outside the visitor center.

Here's a video of them at the feeders:

YouTube Video

Blog Entries:

18Feb2017: Small Falls at Raven Rock

11Apr2015: Wildflower Hike in Raven Rock

09Nov2013: Rod's Raven Rock Hike

External Links:

NC State Parks website: http://www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/raro/main.php

Photos:

Raven Rock State Park