Monthly Archives: January 2011

First trip to Hanging Rock State Park


This turned out to be a weekend of firsts for me.  It was the first truly warm weekend in a long time with temps going into the 60s, it was my first back to back hiking day since getting serious about it again a few months ago, and it was my first trip to Hanging Rock State Park a place I have been scoping out for some time now.  I made the trip with two local friends, Josh and Srinu.

From a fitness perspective, I knew this one would be a good test for me.  Distance does not prove to be too difficult for me, but long steady elevation climbs wear me down quickly.  On the previous day I did an easy 3.8 mile hike at Raven Rock State Park which only had minor elevation changes in relation to this.  In training for a multi-day backpacking trip I thought it was important to try to log some miles before heading to Hanging Rock.  Perhaps, next time I’ll try the easy trail on the second day.

I found the park to be very nice with lots of room for activities and a beautiful mountain lake.  The park itself definitely exceeded my expectations.

Hanging Rock Visitors Center

Hanging Rock Visitors Center

We got a fairly early start so despite the awesome weather the park was not quite full when we set off on the trail.  We planned on hiking up to Hanging Rock first hoping that it would not be as crowded.  Not a big fan of the concrete at the start of the trail, but by the time we got in a ways it picked up and the real hiking began.  It was definitely a good work out and I was pretty winded about halfway up.  As the picture below shows, its it definitely not all fully manicured.

Hanging Rock Trail
Rocky Outcrop

Hanging Rock from Below

View of Hanging Rock from Below

One group was leaving just as we arrived so we were fortunate enough to have the rock to ourselves for awhile on this beautiful day.  I was determined not to let my fear of heights ruin this experience.

Hanging Rock Trees

Hanging Rock Trees

Hanging Rock Ledge

Hanging Rock Ledge

We had plenty of time for pictures and rest at the top of the rock as planned the return hike and subsequent hike along Moore’s Wall and up to Moore’s Knob which can be seen from the summit near Hanging Rock.

Hanging Rock View of Moores Knob

Hanging Rock View of Moores Knob in Distance

The decent from Hanging Rock was much more enjoyable than the accent.  After we got back tot he parking lot we took an opportunity to shed some extra clothes since it was really warming up.  The trailhead for the Moore’s Wall trail ended up being about a mile from the parking lot we were in, down past a mountain lake.  The lake was beautiful and partially frozen which amazed me given that it was about 60 F.

Hanging Rock Mountain Lake

Hanging Rock Mountain Lake

When we picked up Moore’s Wall Trail it was much different than the Hanging Rock Trail.  It was much narrower and not quite as manicured which is a sign that it is not as heavily traveled.  Given that it is a pretty long loop with steady elevation gains I guess it is not for the faint of heart.  Even with it being in the dead of winter I found the trail offered lots of interesting things to look at.  I would say this is my favorite trail to date.  There are a number of rock outcroppings on the path up to the summit and we stopped to rest on them twice.  This accent definitely took a toll on me after the previous day’s hike and the trip to Hanging Rock earlier in the day.

Eventually we made it to the top and were rewarded with some of the best views in central NC.

Moores Knob

Moores Knob

Moores Knob NW View

Moores Knob NW View

Moores Knob West View - Pilot Mountain

Moores Knob West View - Pilot Mountain

Moores Knob Tree

Moores Knob Tree

Moores Knob Tree

All told it looks like we climbed about 800 feet twice with Moore’s Knob coming in just higher than Hanging Rock.

Moore's Knob elevation check

Moore's Knob elevation check

The decent down was good.  It felt good to conquer the mountain that day, the weather was great, and I had some good friends with me.  Before we even got to the bottom we were talking about schedules and a trip to Stone Mountain.

I still need to post the gps output, but if I remember correctly we came in at about 8.4 miles.  Until I get that, here is a highlighted version of the trail map for the trails we followed.

Hanging Rock Highlighted Map

Hanging Rock Highlighted Map

I think Hanging Rock State Park is a fantastic park and I will definitely return.  I would like to try Moore’s Wall Loop again along with the Cook’s Wall trail and Wold Rock trail.  Perhaps I’ll get a chance to do some camping here this spring or summer.

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First trip to Umstead State Park


Today I made my first trip to Umstead State Park.  One of the hiking groups I lurk around has been scheduling some trips out there so I figured I would have a look.  It is really close for me, only about a 10 minute drive.  For the most part, I really don’t like city parks because they are crowded and not very challenging.  Looking at the website there are plenty of trail miles so I figured it was at least worth a shot.

I used the Reedy Creek entrance and chose to hike the Company Mill Trial which is 5.8 miles rated moderate along with a few small side trails and an extra trip along the company mill site.  I’m really not sure why it was rated moderate, it was really easy and the path is so well traveled that it was all but manicured.  There really wasn’t all that much elevation change either.

At less than a third of a mile in I realized this wasn’t quite what I was looking for so I decided to pick up the pace a bit to try and get a bit of workout out of it.  This ended up taking a toll on my feet, and for the first time I actually had foot pain.  Normally my feed are solid, but I found myself trying to push off the inside of my right foot and my big toe was feeling strained.

It also didn’t take long to realize that trail runners outnumbered hikers about 15 to 1.  I think if I was a trail runner this would probably be a great spot for me, but for hiking this really wasn’t for me.  The Company Mill was really the only interesting area to look at on the trail so it was definitely a bit of a let down.

Hiking Goals for 2011


Since I wasn’t an avid hiker in 2010 I’m not sure what kind of pace I’m going to be able to keep up with.  I’m mostly worried about my schedule, but as I write this it is during the winter doldrums with parks closing at 6pm which makes weekday hikes next to impossible for me.

Ultimately my goal is to hike at least once a week for an average of 5+ miles which is 260 total miles.  I’m pretty sure I’m going to miss some weeks, and the weather has already had an impact on me this month.

I also hope to take at least four backpacking trips, though most of them will likely be quick overnight trips.  I’m hoping those trips help boost my mileage numbers.

I’ll be sure to update this post throughout the year with my progress as well as my most memorable trips.

Eno River Redux


Today I had a chance to visit Eno River State Park again.  This was my first hike of the year since the area was hit by bad weather the last few weeks and I also had a few other trips scheduled for work.

With the recent weather I wasn’t sure how the trails would be.  There was still some ice on the roads on the back roads leading to the park.  Overall I found the trails were in pretty good shape, but they were definitely better in the first half when the ground was still firm.  By the time I left with temps approaching 50 some sections were very muddy and up to five inches deep.  I had one bad slip that nearly sent me rolling.

On the previous trip we started on Buckwater trail and then ran out of time before we could tackle the Cox Mountain trail.  Because of that, and since Cox Mountain was supposed to be the hardest I started there.  The footbrige is pretty interesting and adds some character to the trip.  The trail starts off pretty tame and then there is a turn off toward the “mountain” with a pretty steep accent.  On the map it shows close to 700 ft, but I didn’t show more than 500 on my watch at each of the apexes.  The first half of the trail was ok, but not a whole lot to see.  After you hit that power line section the sights start to improve.  The hike wasn’t difficult, I think the Ridge Trail we previously hiked was harder and we were on a slower pace.  After completing the Cox Mountain trail I then took that Buckwater trail which led to the Holden Mill Trail.  That trail was rated as moderate, but it was pretty stout with some interesting sights.

All told my hike was about 8.25 miles.  My feet were hurting a tad more because of the more extreme descents, but it wasn’t bad.  Even with the slightly cool temps, I ran out of water with about 1.5 miles left.  I will not to that again.

At this point I have hiked all of the main Western trails at Eno River.  My favorites are the Ridge and the Holden Mill Trail.  Given that there is a series of loops, there are a number of options for linking together hikes of varying lengths.  There is decent elevation change (for central NC anyway) which provides a bit of a cardio workout.  I think this is really a great park, and I look forward to seeing it in its full glory this spring.