5 hikes with water views near Raleigh, NC

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Hike the East Loop at sunset to try and catch these cotton candy skies. | Photo by Danny Clarke

Lace up your walking shoes + get outside for these five hikes with beautiful water views. Bonus: they’re all less than an hour’s drive from Raleigh.

Lake Johnson East Loop, 1320 Lake Dam Rd. | 10 minutes from downtown
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 2.8 miles
Amenities: 🐶🧺🏊🚣🎣
Pro tip: Walk around the east side of Lake Johnson on paved greenway loops. After your hike, take a dip in the park’s outdoor public pool, open Friday-Sunday.

Walnut Creek Greenway Trail, 2300 Main Campus Dr. | 10 minutes from downtown
Difficulty: Easy
Length: ~1 mile one way
Amenities: 🐶🥏🛶🎣🚲
Pro tip: Begin your hike on NC State’s Centennial Campus. Park at the Partner’s Way Parking Deck and walk toward Main Campus Drive. Make your way to the frisbee golf course that will lead you to a shaded, scenic route along Lake Raleigh.

Sal’s Branch Trail, William B. Umstead State Park, 8801 Glenwood Ave. | 25 minutes from downtown
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 2.5 miles
Amenities: 🐶 🧺🏕️
Pro tip: Find the trailhead at the visitors center. There are stretches of unshaded trail as you approach the Big Lake (take short detours on side trails to get closer to the water). Preview the hike here.

Vista Point Red Trail, Jordan Lake State Recreation Area, 2498 N. Pea Ridge Road, Pittsboro | 40 minutes from downtown
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 2.5 miles
Amenities: 🐶🧺🏊🚣🎣🏕️
Pro tip: Begin your hike at the end of the road across from the group campsites to catch views of Jordan Lake.

Campbell Creek Loop Trail, Raven Rock State Park, 3009 Raven Rock Rd., Lillington | 59 minutes from downtown
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 4.7 miles
Amenities: 🐶🧺🏕️
Pro tip: This park is situated along the banks of the Cape Fear River. Find the trailhead near the visitors center + keep an eye out for Lanier Falls. Preview the hike here.

Check out more watering holes around Raleigh here + more hikes here.

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