Here’s the joy of Lake Johnson: The beginners and casual paddlers who visit the park and decide on the spur of the moment to rent a canoe, a kayak or paddleboat have about three-quarters of this 150-acre lake to plod around on. The more serious canoeist or kayaker can as well. Or, they can slip under the Avent Ferry Road bridge and explore the wilder, upper reaches of the lake, where a nascent Walnut Creek feeds into this impoundment, one of 13 in the city of Raleigh.

Here, in the upper reaches you can paddle through reedy wetlands where, depending upon recent rainfall and the lake level, you may be able to paddle 100 yards, you may only make it 10. It’s that exploratory nature of the lake that makes it a worthy destination, especially for nearby residents who may not have time to drive to an outlying location.

Beginners like the late because of the inexpensive rentals. Canoes and kayaks are available April through October for $5 an hour, Sunfish sailboats, too, for $10. (Pedalboats and jonboats are available year-round.) There are no rentals on days when the combined air and water temperature fails to top 100.

More info



Boat access: Put-in/take-out at boathouse off Avent Ferry Road (see address above).

Getting there from downtown Raleigh
Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 12 minutes from downtown
Time to complete: 1 to 3 hours
Address: 4601 Avent Ferry Rd.
City: Raleigh
State: N.C.
Zip: 27606
Latitude: 35.45908
Longitude: 78.42698