The trails at Raven Rock State Park offer family friendly hiking for adults, kids, and pets. Like most North Carolina state parks, this is a very popular location on the weekends. There are two parking lots that fill up rather quickly. Located in the middle of the state, Raven Rock State Park offers 20 miles of hiking trails ranging from easy to moderate. One trail includes high rock wall formations which gives it a mountain feel and you would never think you are in the middle of the state, as well as an old ancient tree displaying hundreds of roots. You will also see a dam, rapids, wooden bridges and stairs, stone stairs, Cape Fear River views, Campbell River views, and meandering creeks.
Distance to Raven Rock State Park in Lillington, NC
1 hour, 33 minutes
2 hours, 24 minutes
History of Raven Rock Area
The Siouan and Tuscarora Indians hunted the area until European settlers arrived in the mid-18th century. The first settlers were primarily hunters and trappers who were searching for high country similar to their native country, Scotland. Later, stores, mills and quarries were built and many of the woodlands were farmed. As the forests grew back, much of the land was harvested for timber.
A road that stretched from Raleigh to Fayetteville crossed the Cape Fear River via the Northington Ferry and served as the area's major transportation route. Locks and dams were built along the river to facilitate navigation by boat, and Raven Rock became an important landmark for river pilots. After a hurricane destroyed the locks and dams in 1859, the structures were not replaced; railroad transportation eliminated the need for river travel. As new roads were built, the ferry was closed and Raven Rock became a popular recreation spot. The remnants of the Northington lock and dam can still be seen in the park.
In 1965, interest grew in preserving the area as a state park, and local citizens organized support for the project. In 1969, a bill establishing the park was passed in the General Assembly. More than 220 acres of land were purchased and another 170 acres were donated by Burlington Industries. Additional tracts have since been purchased, bringing the park to its present size of 4,667 acres.
Visitor Center / Parking / Restrooms
The Visitor Center is located at 3009 Raven Rock Road, Lillington, NC 27546. The GPS coordinates: 35.4597, -78.9127
Hours of operation are 8:00 am – 5:00 pm all week, except closed on Christmas Day.
There are two parking lots. Once you arrive at the main entrance, you will see a parking lot on the right with a picnic pavilion. Continue to the end of the road to the Visitor Center and you will see the second lot.
The Visitor Center offers trail maps, gifts and souveniers, snacks, water, flush toilets, and a display of local animals and history of the area. Park Rangers are also available to answer any questions.
Scenes Around the Visitor Center
Park Ranger Describes Raven Rock State Park - Lillington, NC
Quick Reference: List of the Trails With Mileage and Difficulty
Raven Rock Loop Trail
2.6 mile loop
Little Creek Loop Trail
1.50 mile loop
Longleaf Loop Trail
0.20 mile loop
Fish Traps Trail
0.60 mile one way
Northington Ferry Trail
0.90 mile one way
American Beech Trail
0.50 mile loop
Campbell Creek Loop Trail
4.5 mile loop
Lanier Falls Trail
0.20 mile one way
0.40 mile one way
Bridle Trail - East
4 mile loop
Bridle Trail - West
4 mile loop
Mountain Laurel Loop Trail - Beginner
Bike Trail / Easy hike
6.60 mile loop
Mountain Laurel Loop Trail - Intermediate
Bike Trail / Moderate hike
Mountain Laurel Loop Trail - Advanced
Bike Trail / Strenuous hike
4.3 mile loop
The trails described below are ones I have actually hiked. There are a few other trails at this park that I have not hiked (yet) so if you visit this park you may want to venture onto the other trails as well.
Campbell Creek Trail. This trail is a lollipop loop of 4.5 miles. As you face the Visitor Center the trailhead starts on the left hand side in the parking lot. Once you start hiking you will come to an intersection where you should take a right to stay on the trail. Once you cross the wooden bridge you will be at another intersection which starts the loop. I like to hike this trail counter-clockwise by turning right and hiking along the Campbell River until Lanier Falls. You could stop and rest at Lanier Falls before continuing the hike. There is a pit toilet in this area past the falls. Lanier Falls is not a waterfall, but offers views of a few rapids on the Cape Fear River (photos attached). Once you continue on the Campbell Creek trail, you will meander through the woods on slightly rolling hills all the way back to the parking lot. There is a slight incline upwards on the way back to the cars which can be tough if you are already tired hiking 4.5 miles. Another option is once leaving Lanier Falls, backtrack along the Campbell River to avoid a few rolling hills.
Raven Rock Trail Loop. This trail splits off in two directions. One leads to the Raven Rock, a 150-foot high and one mile long rock formation along the river. The other leads to the Overlook, a small manmade stone structure high above the Cape Fear River, giving a clear view of both the river and the undeveloped woodlands. It is worth the effort to take the 130 wooden stairs down to the Cape Fear River to view the Raven Rock and surrounding area. The trail does not continue here but takes you to a sandy embankment (photos attached).
Fish Trap Trail. This trail, along with the Raven Rock Trail, is my favorite. You will see the intersection for this trail as you hike along Raven Rock Trail. There are several wooden stairs leading down to the edge of the Cape Fear River, where you hike along the river until it deadends. You turn around and come back up those wooden stairs. The views are awesome and photos are provided.
Northington Ferry Trail. This is a simple walk-in-the-woods trail that has very slight incline going down, but you turn around and backtrack and have to come back up the incline. Remnants of past locks and dams can be seen at the end of the trail.
Little Creek Loop. This is an easy loop trail where half the trail meanders along the Little Creek. It is a pleasant walk-in-the-woods before getting back to the parking lot.
American Beach Trail. Easy loop next to the first parking lot on your right (where there is the picnic shelter) as you head toward the Visitor Center. This is a great trail for adults and kids alike.
Scenes along the Raven Rock Trail, including the giant "Raven Rock"
Scenes on the Fish Traps Trail Along the Cape Fear River
Scenes Along the Campbell Creek Loop Trail
The "Lanier Falls"
Available Camping Facilities
To book a camping reservation use this link or make your reservation by calling 1-877-722-6762.
The new Moccasin Branch Campground at Raven Rock State Park is located at 814 Moccasin Branch Road, just before the main entrance to the park. This campground has a bathhouse with toilets and hot showers available. There are also potable water spigots and trash and recycling bins around the campground loop. Firewood is available for purchase at the campground (cash only).
Nine RV sites offer full hook-ups with 50 amp, 30 amp, and a 20 amp outlet for all RV needs, as well as full water and sewer and the driveways can accommodate RVs of all sizes. Each site offers a tent pad, a campfire ring with a grill, a picnic table, and a lantern hook.
Fifteen additional sites offer a "drive-to" experience for tent and trailer campers. These sites each have a tent pad (25 feet x 25 feet) that includes space for two large tents, along with a fire ring, a picnic table, and a lantern hook. These sites do not have RV hookups. You must go straight to the campground and to your site when you arrive and Staff will come around to check you in.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Michelle Dee