RAVEN ROCK STATE PARK
Should the humdrum of the work week leave you with the urge to travel and explore, head to Raven Rock State Park. Adventure is just an hour's drive from the Research Triangle and only 45 minutes from the Fayetteville area.
The first feeling you are likely to experience at Raven Rock is one of renewal. Here, the forest reigns as each year the timeless cycle of growth further heals age-old wounds inflicted by man. Nature triumphs as plants compete in the stages of forest succession and the woodlands are restored. High above the Cape Fear River stands Raven Rock, its austere beauty a testament to the forces that have shaped the land. As the river below rushes to join the sea, nature's elements continue to shape the surface of this natural monument.
Spend some time at Raven Rock State Park and let nature refresh your spirit.
November-February, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
March and October, 8 a.m.-7 p.m.
April, May, September, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
June-August, 8 a.m.-9 p.m.
Closed Christmas Day
Park office hours:
8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays
Closed Christmas Day
Raven Rock State Park sits along the fall zone, an area where the hard, resistant rocks of the foothills give way to the softer rocks and sediments of the coastal plain. The underlying rocks of the area were formed more than 400 million years ago by intense heat and pressure.
Through the ages, flowing waters and swirling winds gradually eroded the land, carving and sculpting Raven Rock. This immense crystalline structure rises to 150 feet and stretches for more than a mile along the Cape Fear River. The rock was originally called Patterson's Rock for an early settler who found refuge there when his canoe capsized nearby. In 1854, its name was changed to Raven Rock, inspired by the sight of ravens that formerly roosted on rock ledges.
The Siouan and Tuscarora Indians hunted the area until European settlers arrived in the mid-1700s. 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. Many of the woodlands were farmed, and as the forests returned, 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.
Backpack camping facilities, available to families and groups, offer an opportunity to enjoy the wilderness without distraction. All supplies, including water, must be packed to the sites. Before camping, register your vehicle and obtain a camping permit at the park office.
Family camping: Follow Campbell Creek Loop Trail to reach the family wilderness campground, approximately 2.5 miles from the parking area. Five sites, each accommodating up to four people, offer tent pads, fire rings and a vault toilet. Sites are available on a first-come basis.
Group camping: Little Creek Loop Trail leads to the group wilderness camp, 2.2 miles from the parking area. Located along the Cape Fear River, the area offers fire rings and vault toilets and accommodates up to 20 people per campsite. Five campsites are available. Use of this area is by reservation only. Click here to download more information about group camping and the group camping application.
Canoe camping: Six campsites along the Cape Fear River Canoe Trail offer accommodations for canoeists. Located beside the river in a low-lying area, these sites include fire rings and a vault toilet. The canoe camping area is 1.7 miles from the park office and is not accessible by car. Canoeists should reserve sites by calling the park office before embarking on a trip.
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Negotiate the rapids of Lanier Falls and the Fish Traps on a portion of the Cape Fear Canoe Trail that runs through the park. The entire trail travels for 56 miles along the Cape Fear River from an access point at the US 1 bridge over Deep River. A buoy signals the location of the canoe camp in the park. Contact park staff for information about the nearest access points; there is no access area in the park. Canoeists should exercise caution and wear life vests at all times. Spring floods make the river dangerous for canoeing. Check with the park office for the current water level before launching your canoe. Portage dams, dangerous rapids.
The best places for fishing in the Cape Fear River are the Fish Traps and the mouth of Campbell Creek. Game fish in these waters include largemouth bass, warmouth, bluegill, catfish, redear and green sunfish. Other interesting species are longnose gar, American eel, chub, shiners, darters and pirate perch. Fishing is permitted during posted park hours only. Anglers must have a state fishing license. Regulations of the NC Wildlife Resources Commission are enforced.