Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Hanging Rock State Park, NC

Hanging Rock State Park - North Carolina State Parks

GPS Coordinates 36.394685, -80.266723

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Huge parking lot at the Visitor's Center - this is only half of one side of the lot.

Hanging Rock State Park Trail Map - North Carolina State Parks


Moore's Knob -
Balanced Rock -
House Rock -
Wolf Rock -

To start the hike, walk out of the parking lot the way you drove in and turn left on the Lake Trail just before the road.
Go around the lake to the left heading towards the beach area where the trails start.
After going through the lake parking lot, head towards the restrooms.
At the restroom building turn left and go up the steps.
Signs are confusing in this area.  Although you are going to Moore's Knob (there were no signs for Moore's Knob where the lookout tower is), you don't want to follow the sign above because that takes you in the opposite direction you need to go in for this hike.  Instead head towards the family campground following the red circle/white circle trail. 
This is the combined Moore's Wall Loop Trail (red circle) and Tory's Den Trail (white circle) that you will be following in a counterclockwise direction.
After rock hopping a creek, the steps begin and there are many, many, many steps.
Watch for little critters on the trail.  This is a red eft.
If you hike in mid-May, you will be distracted from all the steps by the profusion of mountain laurel...
... and rhododendron along the way.
It was truly an explosion of flowers.
Balanced Rock (much larger than it appears in the picture)
The lookout tower, which both my dog and I, with our fear of heights, had no problems climbing. 
View from the base of the lookout tower.
View from the lookout tower.  The farthest mountain in the distance is Pilot Mountain.
Hanging Rock (the final destination for this hike) from the lookout tower.
Interesting rock formations along the trail.
There is a bulge in the belly (?) of this Eastern Milk Snake so he might be laying here quietly digesting.
The blue square Magnolia Springs Trail (no sign with the name, named on map).
A camera shy young black rat snake.  He was moving pretty fast to get away.
White diamond Cook's Wall Trail
House Rock benchmark
View from House Rock
Hanging Rock from House Rock
Wolf Rock was occupied.
View from Wolf Rock
The white diamond Cook's Wall Trail becomes the blue triangle Wolf Rock Trail before ending at the red circle Hanging Rock Overlook Trail, a wide gravel path.
Wooden steps lead up to Hanging Rock...
... as well as stone steps.
Hanging Rock visible up above.
Views from one of the many rock ledges at Hanging Rock.
Moore's Knob with the lookout tower as seen from Hanging Rock
Hanging Rock benchmark

[0.00]    Walk towards parking lot exit, turn left on Lake Trail just before park road
[0.10]    Cross park road and walk between guardrail and lake
[0.15]    Trail veers right away from road then branches 3 ways; take middle paved trail
[0.25]    Come out at parking lot and veer right following sign towards the restrooms
[0.35]    At the restrooms make a sharp left turn up steps towards "Trails" sign; keep right at kiosk then straight on red/white circle trail when blue triangle goes left
[0.60]    At fork keep right on red/white and cross bridge
[0.65]    Take left fork then turn right on red/white towards the family campground
[0.70]    Turn left on red/white up wooden steps
[0.90]    Turn right on road with campsite #40 on right, after short distance follow red/white to left into woods
[1.05]    Turn right down stone steps, cross creek (no red/white markers at the intersection - left goes to campsite; start ascending on stone steps
[1.80]    Bench with view on right
[2.10]    When trail turns left, keep straight at sign to lookout tower; after a few steps turn right to Balanced Rock, retrace and continue to tower
[2.20]    Lookout tower; retrace
[2.30]    At bottom of steps at Lookout Tower sign, turn right to continue on red/white trail
[2.35]    Several trails branch off, keep following red and white circles
[3.70]    Keep left on red when white leaves to the right towards Tory's Den, now following only red circles
[4.30]    Turn right on blue square Magnolia Springs Trail (no sign with trail name) towards Cook's Wall when red turns left (turn left to stay on red for shorter hike, .9 miles to lake parking)
[4.50]    Keep right when short trail to Magolia Springs veers left
[4.80]    Right on white diamond Cook's Wall Trail
[5.10]    At intersection turn left to House Rock when right goes to Cook's Wall (trail sign is in an odd place); after House Rock, retrace on white diamond
[5.40]    Straight on white diamond trail when blue square trail goes left
[5.85]    Keep straight when blue trail leaves left to lake; trail is now blue triangle Wolf's Rock Trail
[6.00]    Wolf Rock on right
[6.95]    Come out on to wide gravel path and turn right towards Hanging Rock
[7.70]    Hanging Rock; retrace
[9.00]    Visitor Center parking lot


  1. What a great trip- all the hikes look spectacular, especially where there are open vistas. The cabins are adorable too- would love to go to either of them. Fairy Stone park looked very pretty

    1. It was a totally awesome trip! The state park cabins are always great and the fact that they allow dogs is just spectacular. It enables me to hike there because Shawnee and I, we are a package deal :)


  2. We will have to try a trip down there for sure.
    I usually take my dog to Maine for vacation- very dog friendly. Our best trip ever was last year (I ALMOST didn't take this hike- it seemed a hassle) - we took a day trip out to Isle Au Haute- it is an island that is part of Acadia National Park, there is only one boat that goes out there, and it leaves you for the day- and comes back at 4 pm- and if you miss it, you are stuck on the island for the night!!! On the fee schedule it says
    $ 35 per person
    Dogs ride for free!!
    Had a wonderful boat ride out, and amazing hike around the shoreline of the island. When we made it back to the pickup point, the tide had gone out so much, that we had to walk down a nearly vertical steel one person wide jetty for about 100 feet- I was afraid for my dog- so I picked her up and carried her down- it was a little scary. Truly a worth it trip though, if I had a nice blog- I would have it all laid out nice like yours- but I am waaaaay to lazy for that!!

    Happy hiking
    Lesley and Elsie

  3. great stuff! however the snake above is a corn snake, not an eastern milk snake

  4. Love your pictures of Hanging Rock State Park. Would you mind if I used a few of them on my website? Thanks.

    1. Thanks! And yes, you may use the pictures. Thanks for asking.