With this visit to Raven Rock I've added another Triangle-area state park notch to my belt. The park is famous for its' large rock outcropping - Raven Rock - that extends down a cliff towards the Cape Fear River. Raven Rock is definitely my favorite state park of all the ones we've visited. The rock formation is really amazing and the overlook of the Cape Fear River is like something you'd see in the mountains.
We took the Raven Rock Loop Trail which is 2.1 miles roundtrip and wasn't too difficult with the stroller. The surface of the trail alternates between small gravel and dirt. There were a few steps along the trail that I had to maneuver the stroller over. Once we got to a long line of stairs heading downward I took my toddler out and carried him the rest of the way to another set of stairs that descended down the rock face. About a quarter of a mile after you see Raven Rock, there is an overlook close to the trail that gives you an amazing view of the Cape Fear. The overlook is so elevated that you can see over the tree line of the opposite bank of the river. If you look upstream you can also see the small rapids created by the remnants of the former dam.
My preschooler was doing her best impersonation of 'Negative Nelly' at the beginning of our hike, but once she saw the Rock she was in a much better mood. We even had a conversation about how she wants to marry her brother when she grows up (please tell me this is normal).
The Visitor's Center looks brand new and is super nice. There is a very short intro video in the Visitor's Center as well as several very informative and kid-friendly displays. My kids liked pretending that the exhibit listening devices for the visually impaired were phones.The attendant at the Visitor's Center was extremely helpful in identifying points of interest that my kids would enjoy. She was even nice enough to give my kids stickers. In addition to the Raven Rock Trail, she suggested seeing the Fish Traps - a rock outcropping with deep holes, that extends out into the river, where small acquatics sometimes get trapped. We weren't able to make it to the Traps on this trip, but I plan to bring the kids back to see it.
There are clean bathrooms and a water fountain at the trailhead, as well as a really nice new picnic shelter.
I can't wait to find another temperate day to bring the kids back to Raven Rock. It's a little over an hour drive from the east side of Raleigh, but it's worth the trip and most of the drive is through scenic rural land.