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Man-made reservoir - Falls Lake is located in the upper portion of the Neuse River Basin. Nice shaded trails. Very nice park.
Raven Rock State Park is known for its namesake cliffs on the edge of the Cape Fear River. It has over a dozen miles of trails, which include horseback riding, hiking, and cycling trails. Since this park is along the fall line, most of the trails are easy with some rise and fall in elevation. Make sure you hike to the“Raven Rock” while you are there. It is impressive, and there are other trails that offer peaceful walks through the forest and other views of the river. The only camping allowed, for now, is primitive tent camping. The campsites can be reached either by hiking or by canoeing/kayaking in. There is a privy, but there are no showers. I counted seven spaces for camping. There is a site(or was) for group camping. The ranger told me that it is no longer in use. When I was talking to her, she said that they are working on an area for RV camping and that it would be ready next year. If I understood correctly, it will be in the area of the Mountain Laurel Loop Trail. When you camp there, make sure to take a good head lamp or flashlight. I had to walk quite far to get to the privy, and during the night, it is dark! The site that I chose was a longer walk to the privy than the other campsites, but it was a little more remote and private. I also had to by-pass a mud hole on the way to the privy, so again, take a good light source. The best thing about Raven Rock State Park is, of course, the 150’ cliffs along the river. The best thing about camping at Raven Rock State Park is how quiet it is. The hike is 1.7 miles, and other than the sounds of Cape Fear River down below, the only thing you hear at night might be an occasional airplane flying overhead. Since it was during December, I didn’t see any other campers. During the day, however, the park had several day hikers. If you want to camp in the backcountry but don’t want to hike very far to get there, this is a great place. If you have an RV or just want to camp where you can drive to, you will have to wait for a year, according to the park ranger.
Falls Lake State Recreation Area is huge, with seven access areas (4 of which offer camping). We stayed at Holly Point, which offers both tent and RV camping on large, wooded lots. Our campsite, 57, backed up to a finger of Falls Lake for fishing. It was just a short walk to a clean swimming beach. Best of all, it was a great place for the kids to explore!
Sites had their own trash cans. A nice grocery store, some gas stations, and some restaurants were just a short drive out of the park. We'd love to return.
We had a great weekend camping here with our cub scouts in the Shinleaf group camping area. We had about 40 people and had plenty of room to spread out over three camping sites, Osprey Nest, Blue Heron and Bootleg point. The bathrooms were within easy walking distance. Lots of shade to put tents up under. Plenty of picnic tables and fire rings. The Park Rangers came by a few times and we bought some firewood from them. They were very friendly and helpful.
The area is cool to explore, there are several points on the lake you can easily hike to. There are boaters who use the lake mostly during day, even a few at 6:30am!
We even found a cool Northern watersnake eating a fish on the shoreline.
I spent a night at the primitive campsite right before new years and enjoyed it immensely. It was forecasted to be rainy and had been raining for a couple of days prior. The park was absolutely gorgeous and secluded feeling (probably thanks to the rain!) The staff was incredibly friendly and helpful and provided plenty of info. The campsite had a bench and firepit. The site itself was off the trail a bit allowing it to be more secluded feeling. Overall, I loved it and will be going back. I hope to take a fishing rod with me next time as I have heard decent things about fishing there.
The trails are nice and short, not too much room for extra exploration. Best advice is there are some big rocks in the river at various locations that you can lay on and take a nap. Super comfy and the water is also pretty shallow. Great place to get wet. Never camped here before, only day trips.