This is a great little route tucked inside the belt line, close to downtown Raleigh. The south side of the lake is primarily singletrack. A boardwalk at the far west end of the lake helps hikers cross the boggy inflow of Walnut Creek, and the north side of the lake is an unpaved maintenance access road. There are some great views of the lake along this route.
There are some sections with exposed roots on the south side of the lake. A couple of creek crossings on the south side of the lake could require a wet crossing during times of heavy rain.
From the parking area at the end of Jaguar Park Drive, start your journey on the paved greenway heading downhill toward Lake Johnson. At the bottom of the hill, the paved section ends and the trail splits, forming a loop around the western portion of Lake Johnson. Hikers can travel either direction, but this route description travels in a counter-clockwise direction, heading east.
From the trail split at the bottom of the hill, continue straight onto the boardwalk section of the trail. The boardwalk crosses the boggy inflow of Walnut Creek from the west. Once across the boardwalk, the trail begins a slight climb onto the hillside on the south side of the lake. The trail continues to remain relatively level for a while, passing a couple of side trails connecting to neighborhoods on the south of the lake.
The trail transitions to singletrack as it drops downhill for the first of two creek crossings. After the creek, the trail continues and makes a short climb to a scenic overlook with a bench. The trail then drops to another creek crossing before crossing a couple of small footbridges, working its way to the Avent Ferry Road crossing.
The route crosses Avent Ferry and continues uphill to connect with the paved Lake Johnson Greenway Trail. Travel north on the paved East Loop, crossing Lake Johnson on the footbridge with views of the entire lake and the Lake Johnson boathouse. Once across the bridge, the route heads west, crossing Avent Ferry Road again.
A short distance after crossing Avent Ferry, the paved section of the greenway ends and the route continues on a wide, flat section of trail which makes up the Walnut Creek Trail
. This section of trail follows the route of a maintenance access road, passing a couple of side trails coming in from the north. You'll be navigating the northern end of the lake at this point, which offers a new perspective on where you've just come from. There are a few nice views of the lake before reaching the western end of the Lake Johnson and the paved greenway that started the route.
From here, head north and uphill on the paved section of greenway back to the parking area at the top of the hill to finish out your trip.
Piedmont hardwood forest and pines dominate the forest here. Geese can be seen on the lake and the occasional deer makes its way through the woods.