By TMoM Team Member Katie Moosbrugger
If you’re not able to do a beach trip this summer, don’t fret because the perfect solution nearby! Our family always loved to hike at Hanging Rock State Park (see our blogs about this here), and several 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…
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 lake swimming area at Hanging Rock State Park opened on May 29 this year, and will operate 5 days a week (Thursdays through Mondays) through the summer. The area will be closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays; swimming is not allowed when the lake is closed. Hours of operation are from 10am – 5:45pm on days swimming is open.
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. The fee to enter is $6 for adults and $4 for children ages 3-12.
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.
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.
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 reading 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. Unfortunately for 2021, boat and canoe rentals will not be available this year.
If you go, I recommend getting there when the beach opens. It does get more crowded as the day goes on.
Ever since that initial trip, we’ve made it a point to visit as often as possible (even with teenagers in tow now)! We can easily spend 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 said, 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!
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