Hanging Rock State Park (12-9-14)
Hanging Rock State Park, located 30 miles north of Winston-Salem has been on my radar for quite some time now. This 7,000 acre park protects one of the more well-known landmarks in the state, Hanging Rock, and from what I had heard and read it boasted some of the most scenic hiking the Piedmont has to offer.
Purchased by the State of North Carolina in 1935 (partially to protect it from developers) Hanging Rock State Park protects the high peaks located at the eastern end of the ancient Sauratown Mountain Range which predate the nearby, but geologically separate, Appalachian Range. Rising dramatically up to 1,700' above the surrounding Piedmont, the Sauratowns (which by the way are named for the Saura Tribe which once lived here) are comprised primarily of a very erosion-resistant type of quartzite which is why they are so rugged and steep compared with the gentle countryside which surrounds them. Shortly after the State acquired the property the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) set about constructing many of the man-made amenities within the park still enjoyed today such as the stone dam and lake, the huge bathhouse, as well-as a number of picnic areas and trails.
As with many of my State Park visits I had a one-day shot to see as much as possible. Luckily, the orientation of the mountain range within the park lends itself to a very convenient 11-mile loop (with spurs) which would allow me to hit every high point and major overlook in the park. I'd begin my day by ascending the highest peak in the Sauratown's...Moore's Knob at 2,579'. From there I'd cross the interior of the park to the four mile ridgeline which contains the parks other four named overlooks...Cook's Wall, House Rock, Wolf Rock, and the parks namesake Hanging Rock. As you'll see if you come along with me through this album, Hanging Rock State Park deserves every bit of praise it receives...
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 36.394554, -80.265819
Route Type: Loop Difficulty: HARD
Hike Length: 11.5 miles Hike Duration: 5:45
Trailhead Temp: 35'F Trail Traffic: 25-50 people
Min. Elevation: 1,690' Max. Elevation: 2,579'
Total Vertical Gain: 2,100' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 183'
Trails Used (blaze color/shape): Cook's Wall (white diamonds), Hanging Rock (orange circles), Magnolia Springs (blue squares), Moore's Wall Loop (red circles), Mountains-to-Sea (white circles), Wolf Rock (blue triangles)