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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