Best Trails in 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.
Raven Rock State Park sits along the fall zone, an area where the hard, resistant rocks of the foothills gives way to softer rocks and sediments of the coastal plain.
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 the rock ledges.
The Sioux and Tuscarora Indians hunted the area until European settlers arrived in the mid-1700s. The first settlers were hunters and trappers looking for areas similar to their native country, Scotland. Later, they built stores, mills and quarries. Many of the woodlands were farmed, and as the forests returned, much of the land was harvested for timber.
A road 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 are 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 4,684 acres.