The last couple of weekends the weather has been in our favor, so I have been on the hunt for easy-peasy day trips for my family. Recently, a super mom shared with me a local hiking trail treasure that I had no idea was right outside my backdoor. All I needed were my best sneakers, fav water bottle & a couple of adventurous kids. Check, check & check! I packed up my family of 5 and we headed to Raven Rock State Park in Lillington, NC. Raven Rock sits on the bank of the Cape Fear River and covers about 4, 694 acres and has a number of family friendly trails to explore.
It took us about 40 minutes to get Raven Rock….in kid talk that would be the halfway point through the movie, Ratatouille. (This was the movie they were watching in the back seat so Mommy & Daddy could get have quiet time.) Upon approaching the park we drove down a long narrow road flanked by green fields of farmland. The excitement already started brewing in the backseat of the van because the munchkins didn’t know if they were going to a farm or a park. Hee, hee! Don’t you love it when you can create happy confusion amongst the kids!
Now, before you hit the trail you have to visit the welcome center. We were greeted by a nice lady at the front desk and even had an opportunity to chat with the Park Ranger. This was important for my little guy because he had never met a ranger and was trying to figure out if he was a police officer or S.W.A.T. …..ugh, boys! :/ The Ranger told my kiddos about each trail and which would best suit them. He also gave us a Junior Ranger packet where kids can do activities & take notes during their hiking adventures. If you have a very curious kids and the time the Park Ranger also provides a children’s hiking kit. The kit has more hands activities and scavenger hunts that you and your family can enjoy on the hike. Since we were doing the Raven Rock Loop Trail for the first time I left the kit for our next adventure back.
Raven Rock Loop Trail is about a 2 mile “hardwood” loop. Now my family is new to hiking, but we love the outdoors. However, I will have to share that this trail did give us a workout & really allowed us to keep our brains in check. There were so many turns, embedded steps and roots that you had to watch where you were going. This made the trail even more fun because whoever was leading our pack could give us the heads up when the trail changed a bit.
I forgot to mention for any good hiking family adventure you must have your handy-dandy map with you at all times. The Welcome Center and the entrance to the Raven Rock Loop each have a location where you can pick one up. The maps are easy to read and show colored markers to indicate which trail you are on. This was perfect for my kiddos because as they were looking at the gorgeous trail views they were also paying attention to the markers so they didn’t get lost. (This was a huge deal for my daughter who pointed out every orange marker on the trees she came across.)
Raven Rock is perfect trail for a hot sunny day because it is nicely wooded with lots of shade. There are a couple of streams embedded in the trail where the kids can look over and take a look at the wildlife the Rock has to offer. Signs throughout the trail indicate where your next choice of adventure lies. My kiddos wanted to see the Cape Fear River from on top of the overlook. An incentive in going through this trail is to get to the Stone Balcony right before you get to Raven Rock. This is an amazing opportunity to take pictures of the breathtaking landscapes and view of the Cape Fear River. This overlook provides a safe stone barrier where you can take pics and take in the gorgeous views.
After we did finished at the Stone Overlook we followed the path down to check out what we really came to see….Raven Rock! If you have little ones I would suggest you either bypass this route or have some strong arms to carry them down. To get to the Rock we had to walk down a very narrow wooden staircase. We enjoyed it because through every turn of the staircase you could hear the giggles and squeals from our kids. We felt very safe, but I did feel a bit like Indiana Jones when I looked down to see how far down we had to go. Now, my only warning to you is that the staircase is so narrow that if others (including family dogs) are climbing up the stairs you will have to maneuver your way in the corner of the stair for them to get by. This was not a problem, but it did involve a lot of coaching from Mom & Dad…one of us was in the front and the other in the back. However, we came to the trail for a little bit of safe-family fun & the wooden staircase did not disappoint! 🙂
Once down to Raven Rock we were greeted by the flowing Cape Fear River and the huge stone rock where folks were flocking to use it has the backdrop for their pics. The view was amazing & I would have never known that this was right outside my door. We continued venturing around to get a little closer to the underbelly of the rock. The kids even tried to skip a couple of stones, then checked out the aging trees by the riverbed.
Before we finished up the Raven Rock Loop Trail we had to check out the Fish Trail Traps. This was about half a mile down off the loop. My kids were so enthusiastic about the Rock that they couldn’t wait to check out this out, so the .5 miles didn’t bother them going down. (Now coming back up they complained a little….more about needing another snack.) When we went down to the Fish Trail Traps there were families wading in the water, sunbathing on the rocks and some even brought their portable grills and were grilling on the rocks. Very cool!
Our trip to Raven Rock was an easy day trip that left our family feeling adventurous, excited & eager to return for our next hike. Sometimes the best adventures are those that are really right out your front door if you look hard enough. This was a perfect getaway for our family where we could interact and work together without those silly daily distractions (i.e. Cell phone, Video Games, T.V. etc.). I am eagerly looking forward to returning to the Raven Rock State Park with my family or even some of my friends……Girl’s (day trip) Getaway!!
Have you been anywhere recently that left you feeling adventurous & refreshed?
Can’t wait to hear from you! Thank you so much for stopping by A.I.M.