Hanging Rock State Park, a Nature Respite

Hanging Rock State Park, a Nature Respite

Hanging Rock State Park in Danbury

Not far from the busy city of Winston-Salem you’ll find the quiet refuge of Hanging Rock State Park. Located in the Sauratown Mountains and named for the Saura Indians who were early inhabitants of the region, the park’s natural beauty is comprised of bare cliffs and craggy peaks, lush forests and views that stretch for miles.

A quiet, 12-acre lake tucked into the park invites swimmers, boaters and fishermen alike to explore its shores. In the summer, a swim in the lake’s placid waters is a refreshing way to cool off, and the nearby stone and timber bathhouse includes restrooms, dressing rooms, a snack bar and a lounge area with a view of the lake and Moore’s Knob.

Anglers are permitted to fish for bass, sunfish and catfish in the lake. Fish from the shore or rent a boat, or head up to the Dan River Access at the north end of the park to fish the river. Canoes and rowboats are available for rent on the lake as well for a reasonable hourly fee.

The park provides nature lovers an opportunity to spot rare wildlife: Wehrle’s Salamanders and peregrine falcons both call Hanging Rock home. You’re also likely to catch a glimpse of a white-tailed deer, gray fox or a wild turkey. Due to its unique location, the park is home to a number of species of flora that are more commonly found in the westernmost part of the state: Carolina and Canadian hemlock, rhododendrons and mountain laurel abound.

Eighteen miles of hiking trails take you to the top of high rock cliffs, past rushing cascades and waterfalls, through shady wooded passageways and even to a mountain cave for exploration. Extraordinary views from most of the 12 trails show off the rolling Piedmont and Blue Ridge Mountains. Rock climbers can choose between Cook’s Wall and Moore’s Wall, a series of cliffs up to 400 feet high and extending almost two miles. Climbers must register with the park and secure a permit, which carries no fee.

Families will love the 73 campsites suitable for tents or trailers, as well as the 10 rustic family vacation cabins, each accommodating up to six people. The park offers two large picnic areas with 60 picnic tables, conveniently located along the trailheads of many paths that lead to stunning views of waterfalls and overlooks.

The Mountains-to-Sea Trail, a long distance hiking trail that runs across the state, passes through the park and joins with the Sauratown Trail.

North Carolina State Parks offer a variety of fun, leisure and adventurous activities in nature, but this also includes potential hazards. Take care, be safe and enjoy.

Jason Frye

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