By Rachel Hoeing
Hanging Rock is one of my favorite places to be on a beautiful Fall or Spring Day. It is located in Danbury, NC, which is about 1 ½ hours from Greensboro and High Point, and less than an hour from Winston Salem. There is so much to do here and your activities can easily last an entire day if you have kids can last that long!
My favorite part of the park is the huge lake that hosts a variety of activities. There is a designated swimming area with a beach-type entry, diving boards, and lifeguards. Swimming is allowed during the summer from 10 a.m. until 5:45 p.m. most days. Although the swimming has closed for this season, it is still open for boating. Of course this lake area is also open to your little fishermen. We have been able to take our kids on the boats even when they were fairly young. Rental fee is minimal. There is a great grassy area next to the lake which is perfect to relax and people watch. It’s also a good spot for a picnic. There are paths along the lakeshore that lead to the dam. They have a bathhouse that includes restrooms, dressing rooms, a snack bar and a lounge area with a view of the lake.
My husband’s favorite activity at this park is the hiking trails, specifically the long trail that takes you to the fire tower. It’s the longest of the trails (bring lots of water) but the view is worth the trip. Both of the short trails that will take you to the waterfalls are not loops. They are one way out, one way back, with the coming back part all uphill, so get some rest at the waterfalls. My husband wanted me to add in here that you can rock climb. I am not sure if the park wants you doing this, but if you go out to the Hanging Rock Trail, you can climb up the gut of it for a bit of excitement, and bypass the several hundred steps that take you ALL the way around to the top of it. It is perfectly normal to freak out on your kids as they run around carefree when you get to the top of hanging rock, for there are no fences separating the rock from the gigantic drop below. This is where the backpack carrier comes in very handy for little ones!
If you decide to stay overnight, camping is a great option. Hanging Rock has a family campground with 73 campsites for tents and trailers. Each campsite has picnic table, grill and tent pad. A big plus is that bathhouses with sinks and showers are nearby. Note that campsites are available on a first-come basis. Every time we have been there, the sites are full. Make sure you get there early to set up camp. Another option is the family vacation cabins, each accommodating up to six people. There are ten cabins on the grounds. During the spring and fall, cabins may be rented by the night with a minimum of a two-night stay. Summer rentals are available by the week only. Reservations are required and they also fill up quick, so plan ahead.
You may also choose to stop by the park’s visitor center to learn more about the park. It has hands-on exhibits about plants and animals that your children may enjoy. The exhibit hall is open from 9 a.m. until 5:45 p.m. daily.
Last but not, least, if you are planning to spend the day at Hanging Rock park, you will more than likely want to pack a picnic. There are over 60 picnic sites and there are also grills placed around the area.
You can visit www.ncparks.gov to see more information on Hanging Rock State Park.
We hope you decide to take your family and enjoy a glorious day outdoors! And if you’ve been, let us know your thoughts!