A little “peace” of heaven just off the Blue Ridge Parkway

Pilot's Perch Cabins

Hiking Hanging Rock State Park

Hiking Hanging Rock State Park is a great way to see the beautiful Blue Ridge mountain range, including a distant view of the peaks around Fancy Gap. There are 13 trails totaling more than 20 miles in the park. There are peaks with great views and hikes to beautiful waterfalls. It’s a great option when looking for something to do around Fancy Gap.

My grandson and I had a good time on the main trail. We both enjoyed getting out and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. It turned out to be a good trail for a 10 year old youngster and a 57 year old oldster.

Hiking Hanging Rock for Views

View from Hanging Rock

There are many great trails with great views, including Hanging Rock, Moore’s Knob, Cook’s Wall, and Wolf Rock trails:

  • Cook’s Wall Trail (4.4 miles out and back; moderate) – Cook’s Wall Trail, Moore’s Knob’s less-travelled sister peak, features a view of Pilot Mountain and the surrounding countryside.
  • Hanging Rock Trail (2.6 miles out and back; moderate) – The namesake trail is the most popular hike, so it can get busy. The day my grandson and I hiked it, there were about 1000 4th-graders at the top. (It must have been field trip day for every elementary school in North Carolina). There are long-range views of the Blue Ridge Mountain range and the surrounding area once you reach the top.
  • Moore’s Knob/Moore’s Wall Trail (4.7 mile loop; strenuous) – Moore’s Knob Trail starts at Hanging Rock Lake. The hike ends at an observation tower with 360-degree views from the highest point in the park (2579 feet). On a clear day you can see the skyline of Winston-Salem to the south, Pilot Mountain a few miles to the west, and the Blue Ridge Mountains far to the west and north.
  • Wolf Rock Trail (3.1 mile loop; moderate) – Wolf Rock Trail starts behind the bathhouse at Hanging Rock Lake and ends at Hanging Rock Trail. This is a less populated route to the peak at Hanging Rock.
  • Five Peak Challenge (10.1 mile loop; strenuous) – For something more challenging, this 5 peak hike includes Moore’s Knob, Hanging Rock, Cook’s Wall, Wolf Rock, and House Rock. Most hikers recommend completing it counterclockwise, starting with Moore’s Knob and ending with Hanging Rock.

Hiking Hanging Rock for Waterfalls

If you’re interested in a more refreshing hike, there are several waterfall hikes in Hanging Rock State Park. They include hikes to Hidden Falls, Window Falls, Tory’s Falls, and Lower and Upper Cascades:

  • Indian Creek Trail (7.6 miles out and back; moderate to strenuous) – This trail will lead you through the woods and along the namesake creek. You’ll see two of the park’s five waterfalls while hiking this trail. Hidden Falls is 0.4 miles from the parking lot, while Window Falls is another 0.2 miles away from there, 0.6 miles from your starting point.
  • Lower Cascade Trail (.7 miles; easy) – This short trail leads down stairs to a waterfall.
  • Tory’s Den Trail (.5 miles; easy) – Tory’s Falls is reachable via Moore’s Wall Trail or Tory’s Den Parking Lot.
  • Upper Cascades Trail (.8 miles; easy) – This short trail leads from the Visitor’s Center to the falls.

“Mountains Away from the Mountains”

Views of the Blue Ridge from Hanging Rock Peak (Labelled)

Hanging Rock State Park is part of the Sauratown mountain range. Because of its isolation from the better known Blue Ridge Mountains, Hanging Rock’s nickname is the “mountains away from the mountains.” With an elevation ranging from 1700 to 2500 feet, the peaks feature stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains on the horizon.

Other Things to Do

Hanging Rock Lake

In addition to the hiking, there is a small lake with close mountain views for swimming, boating, and fishing. Camping, rock climbing, and mountain biking are also features of the park.

More Info

The blog NC Tripping has a nice summary of things to do in Hanging Rock State Park, including more info about the trails. And you can find more about the trails at Hanging Rock at the AllTrails site.

Hanging Rock State Park
1790 Hanging Rock Park Rd
Danbury, NC 27016
Phone: 336-593-8480