In September, I hiked with my family at one of my favorite places in North Carolina, Hanging Rock State Park. The park is located in the northern part of the state, about 30 minutes from Winston-Salem.
There are several trails, each offering something different. This trip we did the Lower Cascades Trail, which contains a wonderful waterfall. We also visited the lake, located centrally in the park.
The Lower Cascades Trail is relatively short at 0.4 miles, but the challenging part of this one is the steps required to get down to the waterfall. Going back up is the hardest part, of course! We were able to manage it with no problem, but this is something to be aware of if you have any physical issues using stairs.
Your efforts are greatly rewarded when you get to the bottom of the steps and a gorgeous waterfall is before you, with a very shallow open area that you can walk right into.
To get to this trail, you need to go outside of the park and drive to the trail’s entrance. If it’s your first time, stop at the Visitor’s Center in the park and a staff member at the reception desk will give you a map and highlight the way to get there.
Next, we drove back into the park, down the road past the Visitor’s Center, to the lake. I’ve been to Hanging Rock several times but this was my first time exploring the lake. This area offers swimming in-season, canoe and rowboat rentals, camping and picnicking facilities, a refreshment stand (mostly packaged snacks and canned drinks), restrooms, and more trails.
We couldn’t walk down to the swimming area because it was roped off. But we were able to walk along the other side of the lake via the trail, and followed it around to the dam. Since I was with an adventurous bunch, they wanted to go down to the back side of the dam and I followed along. We didn’t walk the trail further, because we were tired out at that point.
Hiking isn’t the only thing to enjoy here. This part of the lake has a fishing dock, and a family was taking advantage of that. There were also two artists along the banks, painting the live scene on easels. And one couple had brought folding chairs and books, and parked themselves under the trees by the water for the afternoon.
One thing I love about Hanging Rock is that it’s never the same experience twice. Each trail is unique, and there’s something for everyone – hidden waterfalls, a mountain peak where you can see for miles, a peaceful lake. It’s like several parks in one!
Hopefully I can go back in a few weeks when the leaves are in their full autumn glory, so I can hike to the top of Hanging Rock for the spectacular view.
Click on the gallery photos to enlarge: