By TMoM Team Member Katie Moosbrugger

If you’re bummed about not getting away to the Carolina coast this summer, don’t fret because I found the perfect solution here in our own backyard! You may remember Rachel’s post on Hanging Rock State Park. She said one of her favorite things about this park is the huge swimming lake.

Well, a few years ago, I decided to check out that lake. I packed the kids up – along with a beach chair, sand toys, and my favorite book – and hightailed it to Hanging Rock’s lake. But we’re not talking about just a lake. It’s pretty much a full blown beach situated right here in the Triad!

If you’re looking for a fun day trip this summer, you need to plan a beach day at Hanging Rock. Here’s why…

beach_019 (2)Located in Danbury, NC, Hanging Rock’s beach is less than an hour’s drive from Winston-Salem and about 90 minutes from Greensboro and High Point. The beach is open Mondays from 11 am to 5:45 pm, and Tuesdays through Sunday from 10 am to 5:45 pm. When you enter the park, just follow the signs to where it says “swimming.” You’ll cross a bridge where you’ll see the 12-acre lake beach to your right. At the top of the drive, you’ll arrive at a parking lot and it’s just a short walk down a paved path to a large stone building that overlooks the lake. Enter the stone building at the bottom and you’ll be greeted by the check-in desk. There is a small fee for all swimmers, but it’s free from 5 to 5:45 pm.

We arrived with a cooler packed with lunch and snacks, but soon discovered you’re required to check your cooler at the door. They do this so they can patrol their rule of no glass products on the beach. That was fine because I just grabbed a few water bottles and a bag of grapes, and was able to go back for our lunch and other snack items whenever we wanted. They just give you a “key” that you need to present to the check-in person to claim your cooler – as often as you want throughout the day. It was no hassle at all.

Inside this building you’ll also find restrooms, showers and changing facilities. And if you follow the steps up to the top of the building, you’ll find a snack bar loaded with the usuals: burgers, chicken sandwiches, pizza, ice cream and candy. The snack bar area is nicely shaded, and there are also more tables and grills just behind the stone building in the wooded park.

dock_004 (2)Through the stone building is how you enter the beach. Here you’ll find a huge shady grassy area which opens to a sandy beach of the same size. There are two lifeguard stands situated on either side of the beach to monitor a roped-off swimming area.

divingboard_009 (2)And just a few yards out from the swimming area is a large anchored dock with two diving boards, along with another lifeguard stand to patrol the jumping and diving. You have to be able to swim – unassisted – to the dock in order to jump off the sides and the diving board. Wearing life jackets and “swimmies” is not accepted out by the dock – but they are accepted in the roped-off swimming area.
Every time I visited this beach, my kids were at the age where they could swim unassisted. So while my kids were splashing around in the water or busy building sand castles, I was able to sit in my beach chair and take in a little of my summer read here and there.

The lake also offers canoes (up to two people) and rowboats (up to three people) for no charge, on a first-come, first-serve basis. And the lake is big enough that you can take a nice leisurely ride for a good bit – exploring the lake shores all around the perimeter.

If you go, I recommend getting there when the beach opens. It does get more crowded as the day goes on.

My kids and I easily spend around four hours at this beach each time we go. It is always a trip worthwhile and one that’s not only fun for the kids, but for us parents too! And like I illustrated above, it’s a do-able trip for moms alone with the kids.

Have you been? Tell us if you have any other inside tips or suggestions for a successful beach trip at Hanging Rock State Park!