Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Raven Rock

Posted February 23, 2009

Canopy of pines on a wintry weekend morning in Raven Rock State Park.  Photograph by Bill Leslie

The first thing I noticed about Raven Rock State Park was the quiet. You could hear the wind whispering through the pines and the distant roar of the river but little else on this chilly winter morning. The second thing I noticed was the mountain-like feel of the trail. During several turns I felt like I was hiking one of the trails at Stone Mountain near Elkin.

I love this rustic park. It’s only 45 minutes from my home in Cary. You really get that wilderness feel here. We only met a few hikers on the trail not counting the family of deer roaming around Little Creek. It was fun to dip down out of the forest to the Cape Fear River below. I counted more than 100 steps – a surefire test for my big toe on rehab following surgery in early January. I passed with flying colors. The massive rock overhang below is a magnet for hikers. Ravens used to roost in the ledges here. If you’re lucky you might see a bald eagle soaring above the water.

The last time I was here was when I did a news story on a UNC-Wilmington team canoeing the river as part of a water quality documentary. That was during warmer weather. There were no mosquitoes this time. But I do want to come back soon especially when the wildflowers start blooming. These include bloodroot and Soloman’s seal. I want to come back and hear the tree frogs chanting as well. There’s plenty of room to romp. The park’s acreage is pegged at 4,667.

Major road improvements into the park near Lillington are underway. In fact, the park will be closed through February 25. After that, do yourself a favor and plunge into the primitive and pristine by visiting Raven Rock State Park nine miles west of Lillington off US 421. Just keep an eye out for the brown signs


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  • philliard Feb 23, 2009

    Reading your account of your trip to the park reminds me of my indoctrination with a church youth group when I had just turned 13 and my first trip to the park. It was probably May or June, not too hot and I had no idea what I was getting into. I was dressed in this cute sleeveless dress and a brand new pair of flats (which were completely ruined by the time we headed back to Durham. Needless to say I was not dressed appropriately. There were not any steps down the rock but small somewhat level cut outs in the rock and nothing to hang onto. Trying to manuever down that rock in those slippery shoes must have been a hilarious site for my older youth group members. I was terrified going down and horrified that my mom was going to be mad that I had ruined the dress and the shoes, there was no way I could have enjoyed the trip. I will have to make another trip with the correct gear and enjoy the beauty that I missed 40 years ago.


  • Riverracer8 Feb 23, 2009

    Mimi, I know exactly where you live! And Fishnett, you are talking about Moccasin Branch. I skipped school there many a spring afternoon....

  • davidgnews Feb 23, 2009

    One of the cool things about Raven Rock is having plant life growing that's usually indigenous to our mountains. What a great, tranquil place indeed !

  • Silver loves Rebel Red puppies Feb 23, 2009

    An engineering firm I worked for a couple of years ago designed a new 100-year flood plain trail bridge over one of the creeks there. The "before" pictures in the file were made in the new of spring that year. I said it was the greenest things I've ever seen, with a riot of new growth. I haven't been out there in some years, but it is very beautiful.

  • njt95 Feb 23, 2009

    I live about 5 miles from the rock and have been so many times I can't remember. My son's boy scout troop used to camp for the weekend. Forty years ago on my first trip to the rock, like Fishnett said, there were no steps. I was a lot younger then and I could climb up and down the rock without any trouble. Now that the steps are there a lot more people can go down and visit. Beware of snakes in the summer they like to sun on the rocks. I have only seen a couple in all of my visits, but I have heard others talk about them. It is one of the most beautiful walks in the spring and fall. Summers get pretty hot.

  • Mimi_Harley_Goddess Feb 23, 2009

    Oh my goodness, DaleJr88 and RiverRacer8, I stay in Mamers in the old stone house. We must be neighbors.

    Raven Rock is a calm peaceful park. Have spent the night at the canoe camp and heard the fish jumping all night.

  • DarnYou Feb 23, 2009

    that was the first place I ever heard a real live echo.. it was amazing, I couldn't stop making the echo happen

  • dalejr88 Feb 23, 2009

    Bill, my family and I live about 3 miles from Raven Rock. We love to go as a family and bring along our dog, Nick. Most people walk the trail that leads to the rock, but there are several trails there that are great. Weekends can get a little crowded especially after many days/weeks of cold weather.

  • fishnett5977 Feb 23, 2009

    Spent many a summer doing the "Rock" and at that time there were NO STEPS!!!lol Had to navigate the steep hill side to go down to the rock and coming back was tough - had to grasp anything that wouldn't move! Lucky I never grabbed a snake! Fun except when it had rained recently and then it was slippery and scary!!! Also use to come by that way down one of the dirt roads (now paved I am sure) that had a creek run cross the road. Soapstone bottom and that is where we would rinse off after a day of swimming at Watson's Lake in Broadway! Ah for those days again!!! ;) Thanks Bill, I needed to relive that memory!!! Happy Monday! :)

  • xxxxxxxxxxxxx Feb 23, 2009

    I haven't been to Raven Rock in years but a friend and I are planning to go when the weather gets warmer. It's an amazing place.




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Bill Leslie