Guide to Hanging Rock State Park & Hanging Rock Trail
Find pictures from the Hanging Rock Trail, basic information, and helpful tips for hiking at Hanging Rock State Park, an N.C. State Park in Surry County.
Some might say that the Hanging Rock trail is a mighty long mile, actually 1.2 miles to be exact, but those who are ready to take the moderate hike will certainly find an amazing view from atop one of North Carolina’s most scenic spots.
Tips Before Hiking Hanging Rock Trail
Hanging Rock Trail is clearly marked with orange circles along the way and the hike begins at the parking lot on the opposite side from the visitor’s center. Before hiking the trail, it is important to:
- Ensure that those planning to hike are physically able to hike a moderate 1.2-mile one-way trail that is mostly uphill.
- Allow approximately 2 hours for the hike and for taking in the view from the top. It took me 45 minutes to hike the trail with three small kids.
- Ensure that everyone in the group has an empty bladder – no bathrooms are along the trail.
- Leave strollers in the vehicle – the trail turns to dirt and gravel and then becomes very rocky with steps and inclines that are not stroller-friendly.
- Uncaged pets must be on a leash.
- Reinforce safety tips with children and provide reminders, especially once at the top.
Supplies to consider before hiking Hanging Rock Trail include:
- A small, lightweight backpack
- Adequate amounts of drinking water for each person and animal, if applicable, that is planning to hike
- Comfortable clothing, especially well-fitting walking or hiking shoes or boots
- Sunscreen and bug repellent if needed
- Protective gear if appropriate according to the weather forecast
- A camera or video equipment if desired – small and lightweight media are easier to handle on the trail
- Emergency supplies for hikers with special needs, such as those who have allergies, asthma, or diabetes
Be prepared to carry any trash back down as there are no trash receptacles on the trail. Hikers cannot remove rocks, plants, or other environmental items from North Carolina State Parks.
How to Enjoy Hanging Rock Trail
Physically fit people of various ages may enjoy the Hanging Rock Trail. This is a self-guided trail, but a park ranger may be at the top to answer questions.
Be prepared to stop frequently if hiking with small kids in particular. My 2-year-old fell asleep in my arms while we were still in sight of the parking lot, but I was bound and determined to take my 8-year-old and 6-year-old to the top, and we have pictures included in this article to prove that we made it! Thankfully, the baby woke up at the top so she could take in the view too. The kids are still talking about the view.
The trail begins as a wide paved trail going downhill, but it is not long before it turns to a dirt path with gravel where Indian Creek crosses under the trail. The trail remains wide, and benches are spaced along the sides during the inclined part of the trail in particular.
There is quite a bit of natural foliage to enjoy, such as mountain laurel, rhododendron, white pines, maples, sassafras, moss, and much more. The visitor’s center offers a nice flower guide with pictures and basic information about the wildflowers of the area. Hikers who are interested in hiking to Wolf Rock Trail will see a sign to the right with blue triangles marking that hike.
Shortly after Wolf Rock Trail splits off, the trail becomes a dirt trail that turns to the right along the top of the mountain ridge. Hikers may be able to catch a glimpse of the view between the trees along the ridge as they enjoy a little more level ground. A rock stairway abruptly ends the flat part of the trail as hikers begin the steeper climb. Along the climb, hikers can look up to see Hanging Rock towering 200 feet above the ground.
Hikers can follow the signs around the right as the trail continues moving up and around the rocks until emerging at the end of the trail. Several large rocks provide ample seating areas. A snack or picnic can be a nice touch at the top. Ravens and other birds may fly majestically around the area as if to pose for a picture.
The View From Hanging Rock Trail
Hikers reaching the top of Hanging Rock will get different views according to weather patterns and season. Clear skies offer a look at Winston-Salem and the Reynolds Building toward the southeast. Greensboro may be slightly visible on the eastern horizon.
Moore’s Knob, which has a large tower and hiking trail of its own, can be seen in the closer mountainous area to the west. Flat Shoal Mountain is often visible to the north. Clear days may offer a glimpse of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Virginia far to the northwest.
Hanging Rock Trail at Hanging Rock State Park in NC
Some might say you get what you pay for when going on vacation or seeing the sights. Hanging Rock State Park’s beautiful trails are free and many have provided a priceless memory to treasure. Hanging Rock is one of my favorites for North Carolina State Parks – it also offers camping and swimming in the lake for a reasonable fee.
Visitors traveling to Hanging Rock State Park often notice the large rock formation nestled on the edge of the mountain before they enter the park. Those who are ready for a moderate 1.2-mile hike to the top can enjoy a beautiful mountaintop view of Hanging Rock State Park and the surrounding areas. Each of the hiking trails at this park is different, but the one to the top of Hanging Rock is one of my favorites.