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Raven Rock Wildflower Hike

posted Apr 13, 2015, 7:51 AM by Justin P   [ updated Apr 14, 2015, 2:28 PM ]
This past Saturday, I headed to Raven Rock State Park for a nice wildflower hike.  I’ve visited Raven Rock many times, but this would be the first time in the spring.  The park is known for its great wildflowers, so I was excited to visit. Although the pollen was out in force, the weather was otherwise perfect for a spring hike.  I started off from the visitor center hiking down Campbell Creek Loop Trail.  In about a half-mile, I came to the bridge over the creek and stopped for a moment to enjoy the beautiful flowering dogwoods along the creek.


Across the bridge, I turned right to follow the loop in the counterclockwise direction.  Hiking downstream along Campbell Creek, the spring scenery was beautiful.  The leaves were starting to bud on the trees and there a number of wildflowers poking out through the forest floor.


When I got to where the creek flows into Cape Fear River, I took a short detour to Lanier Falls.  It’s a stretch calling this a falls - more of a Class I rapid.  The water level was quite high so the “falls” were barely discernable.


I couldn’t get out very far for a picture as the normally-exposed rocks on the side of the falls were completely submerged.  Hiking back up to the main trail, I saw more wildflowers close to the river bank.


Throughout the hike today, the best spots for seeing wildflowers was near the river bank.  I finished up the loop trail and made it back to the visitor, then got on Raven Rock Loop Trail and took Fish Traps Trail back to the river.  The Fish Traps are another series of rapids and exposed rocks along Cape Fear River.  Well, normally the rocks are exposed.  In the past, I had hopped out on the rocks and made it out to the middle of the river.  But today, almost everything was completely under fast-moving water.  So I had to settle for a view from the riverbank.


Fortunately, there was a tremendous number of spring beauties blooming along the trail here to get pictures of since I couldn't get out onto the rocks.


After some pictures of the pretty little flowers, I hiked back up to the Raven Rock Loop Trail and continued hiking the loop.  First, I stopped at the overlook on the cliff high above the river for some nice views.  In the distance, I could see the submerged Fish Traps.


Then, I continued on to the stairs leading down to the base of Raven Rock.  It was fairly crowded down here, but so I didn’t linger too long.


After a couple quick pictures, I headed back up the stairs and got on Little Creek Loop Trail.  This trail follows the ridgeline high above the river, then loops around to follow its namesake creek upstream.  I made a quick detour on the Group Camp Trail, but since people were actually camping at the group sites, I didn’t follow it all the way to the river.  There were some nice spots along the trail in the floodplain of the river right before the campsites.


Then I finished up Little Creek Loop Trail along the creek.  There was one spot along here where I climbed down to some rocks in the creek.  The water tumbled and cascaded down over the rocks and was quite scenic.  Under normal water conditions, I doubt this would be noticeable, but today it looked like a small waterfall.


Back on the trail, I finished up the loop and took Raven Rock Loop Trail back to the parking lot.  I took a quick detour on American Beech Trail as I had never hiked this short interpretive trail before and then the shorter Long Leaf Loop Trail behind the visitor center before finished my hike.


On the way, I passed through Fuquay-Varina and had to stop at Aviator for some beer and a late lunch before heading home.