With a forecast of 90 degrees on tap, I arrived at Lake Johnson before 9AM to beat the heat. My visit was part of an ongoing quest to explore the various city parks that Raleigh, North Carolina, has to offer.
I parked in the South Parking Lot off of Advent Ferry Road, where there was ample free parking at that hour. From the parking lot, I took the wooden stairs up to the paved greenway, which is part of the Walnut Creek Trail.
I passed several walkers as I followed the winding path through the tall trees. When I reached a sign for “Scenic Overlook,” I headed straight for the scenery. Soon, curiosity took me off the paved trail and onto one of the unpaved foot paths—this one leading me right down to the banks of Lake Johnson. It was steep going and seemingly remote, but the hum of traffic still audible from the rather busy Advent Ferry Road encouraged my exploration.
Unsure of where this rustic route was taking me, I headed up through the woods and onto the paved greenway again. (In case you’re keeping notes, I never did make it to the scenic overlook!) Back on the paved greenway again, I passed a picnic shelter—one of three that can be rented for a modest hourly fee (with a two hour minimum).
I continued along the greenway and came to the pedestrian bridge, which runs parallel to Advent Ferry Road and spans Lake Johnson.
I stopped to chat with a friendly, bandana-clad Air Force veteran out for his morning stroll before making my way to the boat house/park office, where boats can be rented for a small charge and fishing rods and reels can be checked out for free (NC fishing license required).
A little further down the 3.5 miles of paved greenway, I came to the Lake Johnson dam. I must say, it was rather calm and underwhelming, so I went in search of the dam’s spillway.
An overgrown but still visible path led me to my reward: the Lake Johnson “waterfall.” I found two vantage points for viewing the spillway, both of which were a bit obstructed by tree branches and one of which offered a park bench.
All in all, the park has much to offer the residents of Raleigh. Not only is it a peaceful and natural place to get out and walk, there are picnic areas and even a conference room for gatherings, as well as water-related activities for all ages, including a pool on Jaguar Park Drive. If you live in the Raleigh area and haven’t visited Lake Johnson yet, I think it’s well worth a look.
My visit to Lake Johnson took place on Friday, May 9, 2014.