Where is Hanging Rock State Park?
1790 Hanging Rock Park Road
Danbury, NC 27016
GPS: 36.4119, -80.2541
Hanging Rock State Park is located in the northwestern region of North Carolina, about 12 miles from the Virginia border. It is 30 miles north of Winston-Salem and about 18 miles east of Pilot Mountain State, another significant wilderness area in the state. Hanging Rock, like Pilot Mountain, is part of the Sauratown Mountain Range, an isolated mountain range boasting breathtaking views in Stokes and Surry counties. The closest town to the park is Danbury, a city with a population of under 200 people and which is known as the “Gateway to Hanging Rock.”
How Big is Hanging Rock State Park?
Hanging Rock US State Parks is relatively large for a state park. It encompasses an area of 9,011 acres and sprawls across two counties. Its 36 square kilometers provide ample room for over 20 hiking trails which cross through the park, creating a total of 18 miles of paths for travelers to explore. Hanging Rock itself, the namesake of the park, has an elevation of 2,579 feet above sea level. The rock rises 340 feet above surrounding peaks in the area, offering beautiful views of the North Carolinian sunset.
Hanging Rock State Park Weather
The weather in the park varies significantly from season to season. The coldest month in Hanging Rock State is January, when average low temperatures reach 25 degrees, and the average high is only 45 degrees. The month with the warmest temperatures is typically July, when average highs reach 85 degrees and lows are a comfortable 63 degrees. Humidity levels can be higher than other states, so keep that in mind when planning your trip.
While weather in the area is typically never at either extreme, North Carolina does occasionally experience dangerous weather phenomenon such as hurricanes, so be aware that hurricane season begins June 1 and ends November 30. Otherwise, typically, the Hanging Rock State Park area averages 47 inches of rain each year.
When Did Hanging Rock Become a State Park?
In 1936, the first 3,096 acres of Hanging Rock State Park were donated by two groups, the Winston-Salem Foundation and the Stokes County Committee. The park facilities were created through a project led by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a public work relief program that was part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous New Deal. The state acquired additional segments of land through the next several decades, resulting in the nearly 1,000 acres of land which comprise the park today.
Thing to Do in Hanging Rock State Park
Hanging Rock State Park offers many opportunities for recreation. Whether you decide to spend an afternoon taking in the vibrant green landscape or choose to dedicate a weekend or more to camping in the northern North Carolinian forests, you are sure to add the park to your list of places to visit again.
1) Tent Camping – The park offers 73 campsites for visitors who wish to tent camp. Each site is equipped with a grill, picnic table, and tent pad and potable water stations are scattered throughout the sites. Bathhouses with hot showers are also conveniently located.
2) Group Camping – For larger groups of visitors (up to 16 people), Hanging Rock State Park also has designated group camping sites. These campsites are labelled “primitive,” but vault toilets and water are within easy reach. Take note that reservations are required for these sites.
3) Vacation Cabins – If you are planning to be in the area for seven days or more, consider reserving a vacation cabin at the park. Nine of the cabins are wheelchair accessible and all of them have restrooms, kitchens, and two bedrooms.
4) Farmer’s Market – From August through November each year, the Stokes’ Future Farmer’s Market is held every Saturday in the visitor center parking lot. You can find fresh produce and handmade, local goods.
5) Mountain Biking – The park offers around 14 miles of mountain bike trails, divided into nine separate trails. While most of these bike trails are designated intermediate, the Rattler is the park’s only advanced trail for more experienced bikers.
6) Cook’s Wall Trail – This out-and-back hiking trail is just over four miles long. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash at all times. Keep an eye out for snakes, especially the copperhead and timber rattlesnake which are both venomous.
7) Indian Creek Trail – The Indian Creek trail is a strenuous, 3.6-mile trail each way. Follow the red square blazes and be prepared for water crossings. This trail starts at the visitor center parking lot and ends at Dan River.
8) Hidden Falls – Hidden Falls is a small, tiered waterfall that is found along the Indian Creek Trail. It is under a half a mile from the visitor center. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy a peaceful meal by the waterfall.
9) Rock Climbing – Visitors can rock climb in this state park if they have a permit to do so. Only Cook’s Wall and Moore’s Wall are available for rock climbing, but they together offer over two miles of climbing surface.
10) Swimming – If you visit Hanging Rock in the summer, there is no greater way to cool off than to go for a dip in the lake. There is a bathhouse where you can change into your swimsuit and even a snack bar.
When to Go to Hanging Rock State Park
Our National Park Visitors Guide suggests the best times to come to the park tend to be in the more moderate seasons, spring and fall. The spring presents opportunities for abundant wildflowers like pink lady’s slipper and galax, a plant native to the state and which blooms May to June. Fisherman will find summertime to be an ideal time to visit, as bass, sunfish, and catfish can all be found in large quantities in the lake.
If you are affected by seasonal allergies, however, you may want to plan your trip later in the year (after both spring and summer) because the pollen counts can be notoriously high. The fall leaf displays are beautiful and well-worth a trip to see, especially from a high point like Hanging Rock itself.
Must Have Things to Bring to Hanging Rock State Park
When visiting Hanging Rock State Park, ensure that you have the proper supplies to enjoy your trip. Dress appropriately for the weather and make sure you have all necessary safety equipment List of Parks lists below.
1) Insect Repellant – Bugs like gnats, mosquitoes, and chiggers are just a few of the bugs that pester visitors to the park. A good quality insect repellant can help you to spend less time swatting mosquitoes and more time enjoying the trails. Be especially cautious of ticks, as they can carry Lyme disease.
2) Sunscreen – The sun can be especially intense in summertime. While much of the hiking is through trees, some trails have less overhead coverage. No matter your skin tone, make sure to bring sunscreen and apply it at least 30 minutes before beginning your outdoor adventures. Remember to reapply often.
3) Layers – The weather can change quickly in North Carolina, especially at higher elevations. Dress for the weather but utilize layers in case the weather changes throughout the day. Rain showers in the afternoon (especially in summertime) are not uncommon, so be sure to pack a light raincoat.
4) Sturdy Hiking Shoes – Prevent sprained ankles by investing in a pair of hiking shoes. Shoes specially designed for hiking will help prevent slips on the trail and will also offer protection against tree roots and rocks you encounter in your path. Make sure to break in your shoes before your trip to the park to prevent blisters.
5) Water – Bring enough water to last the duration of your trip. While there are campgrounds with potable water sources, you will want to make sure that you have a few liters of water if you plan to be out on the trails for any length of time. Dehydration can occur more quickly than most people realize.
6) Healthy Snacks – Whether you are camping overnight or just spending the afternoon in the park, bring along some snacks to keep up your energy levels. For hikes, consider bringing dehydrated foods (like dehydrated fruit) for healthy snacks that are lightweight in your pack.
7) Water Shoes – Some of the trails can include water crossings. For example, the Indian Creek Trail crosses a creek a few times, and there are no bridges. While the creek is typically shallow, heavy rains can cause higher water levels which can make for dangerous crossings.
8) Cell Phone – It is always a good idea to have a cell phone with you in case of an emergency. Make sure to charge it beforehand, and consider investing in a battery pack that allows you to charge your phone on the go. Download maps beforehand in case you don’t have reception in the park.
9) Camera – With so much wildlife around, you will want to make sure you have a camera to capture your experience at the park. Sunsets are gorgeous in the park, and you can get stunning views from Hanging Rock.
10) Plant Guidebook – North Carolina has over 3,000 species of wildflowers, and Hanging Rock is home to many of them. Bring a plant guide for the area with you, and spend a few hours walking the trails and trying to identify some of the most common plants in the area.
Where to Stay in Hanging Rock State Park
If you are staying the night in the area, camping is the number way to fully enjoy the park. All of the campsites come with a grill and firepit, so you can bring marshmallows and spend a few nights under the stars. Some of the campsites are available for RV parking, so you could even bring out the RV and set up camp for a couple of days.
If you would rather sleep more comfortably in a bed during your trip, you will have no problem finding lodging at a hotel or Airbnb nearby. Winston-Salem is only about 30 minutes south, and this fairly large city offers all of the standard national chains like Hampton Inns, Hilton Garden Inn, and Marriott. There are also many small towns like Flat Shoals, Neatman, and Poplar Springs which have their own roadside motels.
Food Nearby Hanging Rock State Park
If you are looking for a bite to eat during your stay, considering driving a few miles into Danbury and visiting one of their local restaurants. Town staples include the River Rock Café which offers sandwiches and flatbreads, or Artist’s Way Creations Bakery Café.
If you have extra time in your trip and don’t mind driving a little longer, drive northwest to Mt. Airy, home of the actor Andy Griffith. This town was the basis for the quintessential town of Mayberry from The Andy Griffith Show. Local favorite restaurants include 13 Bones Restaurant, a casual restaurant that offers ribs and steak. Gondola Italian Restaurant is another local favorite, featuring Italian staples like pizza and pasta.
Airports Near Hanging Rock State Park
When you are visiting Hanging Rock, you have several airports to choose from. The most budget-friendly airport is typically Raleigh-Durham International (RDU), which is an approximately two-hour drive to the park.
You can also fly into Piedmont Triad International Airport, but prices tend to be higher flying into this smaller airport. Charlotte Douglas International Airport is another option that is two hours southwest of the park and offers a number of flights as well.