Looking for somewhere to hike near Fort Bragg, NC? There are 23 State Parks in driving distance from post and Raven Rock State Park in Lillington is one of our favorites!
Raven Rock is the perfect place for a family-friendly hike. According to Google Maps, it is located only 28 miles from Fort Bragg. (I live in Spring Lake and it’s only a quick 20 minute drive through the country.) We have already been to this park twice since moving here 4 months ago. After taking our first hike with the kids, we knew that we would be coming back for more.
Raven Rock offers 6 trails of varying lengths and difficulty. The trails can be used for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. (You can check the park’s website for exact information.)
Raven Rock Loop Trail
On our first trip to the park, we did the Raven Rock Loop Trail which features an overlook with a panoramic view of the Cape Fear River and the surrounding forest. Our kids are less whiny when there is a ‘goal’ to reach on the trail, such as a summit view or waterfall. They couldn’t wait to get to the ‘top of the mountain’!
This 2.6-mile trail begins by the picnic area and the restrooms (great for that last minute potty break!) and starts off pretty easy. The beginning of the trail slopes downward and has a couple of steps built into the ground. The trail soon flattened out as we walked along Little Creek. There were some foot bridges to cross over at different spots, which the kids also loved.
As we continued, the trail began to incline. At the mile mark, there is a junction. To the right there are 135 steps that lead down to the Cape Fear River. To the left, the trail winds up toward the Raven Rock Overlook another half-mile away.
The overlook, 350 feet above the Cape Fear River, gives a sweeping view of Harnett County’s beautiful landscape.The pictures from this hike were taken during the summer, and I can’t wait to see what the view looks like in the fall.
The overlook at Raven Rock State Park is a great place to watch the sunset…IF you want to stumble back to the parking lot in the dark (like happened to us). But it was worth it….just look at this picture I captured of my girls as the sun set
Our second visit to Raven Rock State Park was when my husband had a rare morning off from work. So, we were able to go after we dropped the kids off at school. We did the same trail (Raven Rock Loop), only this time instead of going left at the mile mark up to the overlook, we went right and headed down the stairs to the river.
There, we hiked under the 150 foot high rocks and climbed on huge boulders. We even were able to see an eagle catch a fish out of the river! (Unfortunately, I was not camera ready for that.) Bald eagle sightings are becoming a more common occurrence in North Carolina due to re-population efforts by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission. We were in awe at being able to see our nation’s most beloved bird hunting in the wild.
However, the climb back up the stairs was miserable. I wish I was one of those fitness people, who could tell you that it was refreshing and made me feel great, but I was a panting, sweating, swearing grouch by the time I made it to the top. (My legs were sore for days after this hike!) Nevertheless, I can tell you that the hike was still worth it. I loved the views, all the pictures I took, and the time spent with my husband.
We plan on making several more trips to Raven Rock during our time here at Fort Bragg. I can’t wait to see how the park looks at different times of the year.