Having never before visited Hanging Rock State Park, I was anxious to hike somewhere new. I had been to the nearby Dan river for canoeing, and had seen the park's rocky cliffs from a distance, so I was intrigued.
Although I had not planned to lead this group of five, a last-minute situation arose and the leader could not go. No matter, the directions were simple. Winston-Salem is nearby, and the drive from there is about 45 minutes.
Danbury is a quaint town, a gateway to the park, and a gateway to the mountains. Though we did not stop, there were many inviting shops and restaurants beckoning.
Once inside the park, we stopped by the visitors' center. Clean restrooms, helpful staff, and a very interesting museum await inside. Several of the museum's exhibits describe the great efforts of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the building of our parks. Another review I wrote on Cumberland Falls State Park (KY) did not mention the CCC, but they were a cornerstone of what that park and so many parks are today. Hats off to those hard-working souls who built our parks!
After viewing the museum exhibits, which included an exceptionally puzzling bending rock (you have to see this for yourself), we set out to hike. Our goal was Moore's Wall. The weather was overcast, low clouds, in the 50's.
We drove maybe a half mile to the nearest point to our trail. Unfortunately for us, only campers are allowed to park there. We parked about a quarter mile away, near a trail-head. A two-mile connector trail took us in turn from a lakeshore into hardwood forests, flats, a mild incline, and through conifer forests.
Once on Moore's Wall Loop, we continued on a steady gradual incline. The scenery was immense, at times upon ridges where we could see over both sides at once.
We stopped for lunch on a rock outcropping which, on a clear day, would be sure to offer a rewarding view. Today, with the low clouds, it was only barely possible to see portions of the farmland below in the distance.
Looking upward, a vulture cruised past, giving me the impression of a low-flying airplane in the mist above. Later, I would see one of the peregrine falcons nesting on Moore's Wall in a similar misty fly-by. Several of the rock-climbing routes on Moore's Wall are presently closed due to nesting falcons.
This was where we ate lunch, and tried to stay warm on this early May day.
Following the loop around, we came upon a short spur upward to the observation tower. We were up in the clouds at this point. It's a special feeling standing there with the clouds blowing by, seeing the vapor right before you. The tower is only two stories tall, and is made of deck board. I climbed it with a couple of beagles who accompanied us on our hike.
From there, it was all downhill. The hike seemed to go quickly from that point. Except for the slippery ground, due to the weather, the hike overall was moderate. Any person in reasonably good shape could take on these five miles or so. And be glad they did.
There is much more to see in this park. However, our group of day hikers had to get started back home. I look forward to coming back to Hanging Rock State Park for more hiking and camping. Perhaps, combined with a pleasant trip down the nearby Dan river.
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Best time to go: March-May
Recommended for: Anybody
Review Topic: Hiking & Trails