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Hanging Rock State Park

Hanging Rock
Hanging Rock State Park is a state park north of the Triad region near the Virginia border in Stokes County.  The closest town is Danbury, NC, also in Stokes County.  The park is less than an hour north of Greensboro and Winston-Salem and about 2.5 hours from the Triangle.

Hanging Rock is one of the remaining mountains of the Sauratown Range and ancient mountain range that has been worn down by time.  The other two notable peaks that remain in this range are Pilot Mountain in Pilot Mountain State Park and Sauratown Mountain, which is on private land.  The Sauratown Mountains are sometimes called the "mountains away from the mountains", because they are separated from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west.  What remains of the Sauratown mountains are the erosion-resistant quartzite that makes up the ridges and knobs, such as Hanging Rock and Moore's Knob.  Although the mountains are no longer high in altitude, ranging from 1700 to 2500 feet, they are much higher than the surrounding countryside at around 800 feet, and so provide magnificent views of the surrounding Piedmont and the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west and north.  The park was established in 1936 through donations of land from the Stokes County Committee for Hanging Rock and the Winston-Salem Foundation.

Contact Information:
1790 Hanging Rock Park Road
Danbury, NC 27016-7417

Phone: (336) 593-8480

Email: hanging.rock@ncdenr.gov

GPS Coordinates: 36.411906, -80.254122

Directions:

The entrance to the park is off NC-8 just north of Danbury.  From Danbury, travel a few miles north on NC-8, then turn left on Hanging Rock Park Road to enter the park.  Use the map below to generate customized directions to the park.

Map:

Hanging Rock State Park

Camping:

Camping is available at two locations.  The family campground is located down from the visitor center at the trailhead for Moore's Wall Loop Trail.  There are 73 campsites with a tent pad, picnic table, and grill.  Potable water and washhouses with bathrooms, sinks, and showers are located in the camping area.  Visit the park's website to make a reservation.

Hiking:

There are about 18 miles of hiking trails in the park, ranging from short handicapped-accessible trails to long mountain hikes with substantial elevation gain.  Descriptions of the trails in the park are below and can be viewed on the map above.

Cook's Wall Trail:

Length: 1.6 miles (one way)
Difficulty: Moderate
Blaze: White Diamonds

The Cook's Wall Trail runs from the end of the Wolf Rock Trail to Cook's Wall, a rocky outcropping at the southeastern end of the park.  The trail is marked with white diamond blazes and is about a mile and a half in length.  Magnolia Springs Trial intersects with the trail and provides a path to Moore's Wall Loop Trail.  House Rock and Cook's Wall are two points of interest along this trail.  House Rock is just past the intersection with Magnolia Springs Trail and Cook's Wall is at the far end of the trail.

Hanging Rock Trail:

Length: 1.3 miles (one way)
Difficulty: Moderate
Blaze: Orange Circles

The Hanging Rock Trail runs from the visitor center parking lot up to Hanging Rock Mountain.  The trail is just over a mile, but has consistent elevation gain giving it moderate difficulty.  Also, it is not a loop so hiking to Hanging Rock and back is about 2.5 miles in length.  However, reaching the end is worth the challenge.  At the summit is a beautiful rock formation that "hangs" over lower points along the trail.  The 360° views from the summit are great and on a clear day, one can see north into Virginia and south to Winston-Salem.  This is the most popular trail in the park and thus the most crowded, especially during the fall when color is peaking.  Despite the potential crowds, a trip to the park is not complete with hiking this trail.

Indian Creek Trail:

Length: 3.7 miles (one way)
Difficulty: Moderate
Blaze: Red Squares

The Indian Creek Trail leads from the north end of the visitor center parking lot down to the Dan River.  In the first half-mile or so, it passes two small waterfalls - Hidden Falls and Window Falls.  Descriptions of these waterfalls are in the waterfall section below.  This first half-mile is also the most popular section of the trail - most people don't continue on.  Past the waterfalls, the trail continues following Indian Creek downstream and is narrow and rocky with a couple of stream crossings.  After another mile, there is a road crossing across Hanging Rock Park Road and then the trail opens up and levels off a bit.  There is an old dilapidated barn right past the road crossing as shown in the picture below.  After about another mile and a half, the trail comes out on some bluffs high above the creek and gets narrow, rocky, and steep again.  There are about 4 more stream crossings and then it levels off again before reaching the Dan River Access off Flinchum Road.  The following video shows some of the highlights going from the Dan River Access up to the Visitor Center.

Dilapidated Barn along Indian Creek Trail

Lower Cascades Trail:

Length: 0.4 miles (one way)
Difficulty: Moderate

The Lower Cascades Trail leads to Lower Cascades Falls (see the waterfalls section below).  Reaching the trailhead requires leaving the park and making the first left on Moore's Spring Road and then the first left on Hall Road.  The parking lot will be on the right.  See the map above to navigate to the parking lot.  The trail itself is short, less than half a mile and leads to a wooden staircase leading down to the falls basin.

Magnolia Springs Trail:

Length: 0.4 miles (one way)
Difficulty: Easy
Blaze: Blue Squares

Magnolia Springs is a short trail, less than half a mile, that connects the Moore's Wall Loop Trail and the Cook's Wall Trail.  This trail can be used to make longer loop hikes incorporating multiple trails in the park.

Moore's Wall Loop Trail:

Length: 4.3 miles (loop)
Difficulty: Strenuous
Blaze: Red Circles

The Moore's Wall Loop Trail begins at the family campground.  In the counter-clockwise direction, after a stream crossing, the trail quickly and steeply heads up to Moore's Knob, which is the highest point in the Sauratown Mountains at 2,579 feet above sea level.  There is a lookout tower at the peak allowing visitors to go a little higher and provides spectacular 360° views of the surrounding area.  Continuing on, the trail runs along the ridgeline of Moore's Wall before gradually heads back down the mountain.  As the trail approaches the base of the mountain, there is a split - right goes along the Tory's Den Trail and left continues on the Moore's Wall Loop Trail.  A half-mile or so further and the trail splits again, with right leading to the Magnolia Springs Trail to Cook's Wall Trail, and straight continues back to the campground and lake.

Rock on Moore's Wall Loop Trail
                                        Large Rock near Moore's Wall

Upper Cascades Trail:

Length: 0.2 miles
Difficulty: Easy

The Upper Cascades Trail is a very short trail that leads from the southwest end of the visitor center parking lot to Upper Cascades Falls (see the waterfalls section below for a description of the falls).

Wolf Rock Trail:

Length: 1.4 miles (one way)
Difficulty: Moderate
Blaze: Blue Triangles

The Wolf Rock Trail runs from a split in the Hanging Rock Trail past Wolf Rock and terminates at the Cook's Wall Trail.  The trail has blue triangle blazes and is over a mile in length.  Wolf Rock, another rocky outcropping in the park lies close to the end of the trail near the intersection with Cook's Wall Trail.

Wolf Rock

Waterfalls:

There are five named waterfalls in the park.  All are a just a short hike to see and are pretty impressive for waterfalls in the Piedmont region.

Hidden Falls:

Hidden Falls is located just a short walk from the Visitor Center parking lot.  From the northern end of the parking, head less than a half-mile down the Indian Creek Trail past the picnic area.  There is a very short spur from Indian Creek Trail that leads to a viewing spot for the falls.  Hidden Falls is only about 10 feet and probably the least impressive falls in the park, but still worth a quick stop.  Window Falls is just a short hike beyond.

Hidden Falls

Lower Cascades Falls:

Lower Cascades Falls is my favorite waterfall in Hanging Rock.  It is really beautiful and impressive, considering that you're still in the Piedmont region of North Carolina.  Leave the park past the gates and immediately turn left on Moore's Spring Road then the first left on Hall Road and the parking lot will be on the right (see the map above).  There is a short half-mile trail to the falls.  This falls used to be difficult to see, but the park built stairs leading down to the basin to provide better views for visitors.  On a hot day, this is a popular place for visitors to cool off in the chilly water of the basin pool.

Lower Cascade Falls

Upper Cascades Falls:

Upper Cascades Falls is also a very short walk from the Visitor Center.  From the southwest corner of the parking lot,  just behind the visitor center, follow the Upper Cascades Falls Trail about a quarter mile to a staircase down to the falls.  This 30 or so foot waterfall on Cascade Creek is just downstream of Hanging Rock Lake.

Upper Cascades Falls

Window Falls:

Window Falls is located about a half mile from the Visitor Center parking lot on the Indian Creek Trail, just past Hidden Falls.  At the top of the falls, there is a "window" in the rock - a four-foot hole, which gives the waterfall its name.  Heading down the stairs from the window is the best viewing area for the falls, which is maybe 15 feet or so.  There is also another unnamed falls here just upstream of Window Falls; you will have to go through the "window" to view that one.

Window Falls

Summits and Overlooks:

There are several overlooks and summits among the mountains in the park that provide fantastic views.  The three major peaks within the park include Hanging Rock, Moore's Knob, and Cook's Wall.  Two smaller peaks with great overlooks along Cook's Wall include House Rock and Wolf Rock.

Moore's Knob:

Moore's Knob is the highest point in the park and in the Sauratown Mountain range at 2,579 feet above sea level.  Access to the peak is along the Moore's Wall Loop Trail.  The rocky outcrop at the summit provides great views to the north and west, with the other major Sauratown Mountains, Sauratown and Pilot Mountain, easily visible.  A lookout tower on top of the summit allows visitors to get even higher and enjoy panoramic views in 360°.

View of Pilot Mountain and Sauratown Mountain from Moore's Knob
    View of Sauratown Mountain (near) and Pilot Mountain (far) from Moore's Knob

View from Moore's Knob
                                                    View from Moore's Knob

Hanging Rock Lake:

Hanging Rock Lake provides opportunities for swimming and boating (seasonal) and fishing (year-round).  The lake was constructed by the CCC in 1938 as well as the stone bathhouse and beach on the lake.

Hanging Rock Lake
                                                Hanging Rock Lake

Blog Entries:

05Oct2013: Early Fall Color at Hanging Rock

External Links:

NC State Parks Websitehttp://www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/haro/main.php

Photos:



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