Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

A few weekends ago I went hiking with my boyfriend, his daughter and her dog in Raven Rock State Park in Lillington on a chilly Saturday morning. We shared the gravel parking lot with a rambunctious pack of Boy Scouts getting ready for a camping trip. Luckily for us, they took a different trail.

We set out on the Raven Rock Loop trail and took it to the Little Creek Loop Trail. It’s a flat trail that goes through the woods along a stream. Eventually you come to the turnoff for Raven Rock that leads down terraced steps and then down a well-made wide wooden staircase to the edge of Cape Fear River where you can walk along Raven Rock, a high bluff facing the river.

According to the park, “This immense crystalline structure (Raven Rock) 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.” We didn’t see any ravens.

Because of all the rain, we did get to see lots of ice falls along the rock face and huge icicles hanging off the top of the bluff. The rock face itself slants overhead so you can walk under the rock without worrying about icicles crashing down on you. It’s a nice place to hang out for a while and explore.

Then it’s cardio time. Back up the staircase and then the shallower trail steps. By the time you’re at the top, if you’ve charged up without resting, you’re in full cardio mode. We continued on the trail and took the turnoff for the Overlook. Instead of being on the river’s edge, now you’re above it on a viewing platform.

Our loop eventually took us back to the parking lot. It was about five miles altogether with all our time on the turnoffs. Next time we’re going to do the Campbell Creek Loop Trail.

Winter is a great time for hiking. You don’t see as many people out on the trails. You don’t have to worry about poison ivy. Once you start hiking, you don’t even have to worry about the cold as long as you’re wearing a hat and gloves. You can peel layers as you go. Just remember that if you’re going on a long hike, you can get just as dehydrated in the winter especially if the humidity is really low, so bring water with you.

Raven Rock State Park

3009 Raven Rock Road, Lillington, NC 27546

Trail map

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