by Kristen Bagwell
Our weekly summer travel series continues! In case you missed last week's post, we'll be alternating Day Trip and Weekend Trip ideas through the end of the summer. Today's travel idea is just over two hours away from Raleigh, and you'll be amazed at the change of scene once you arrive. Enjoy!
Want to go hiking in the mountains without going all the way to the mountains? Consider a visit to Hanging Rock State Park. About 30 minutes north of Winston-Salem, Hanging Rock is an easy drive and features great scenery and activities for everyone. From their website:
Hanging Rock is part of the North Carolina State Parks system, and is wonderfully maintained. Choose to hike one of the many trails, or bring a picnic along to relax and enjoy the scenery. There are two areas for picnicking, each with 60 sites and 15 grills available. (That is my kind of picnic!) There are 12 trails providing 18 miles of hiking for beginners and advanced hikers alike, and include scenic views, waterfalls, and even a cave or two.
If water sports are your thing, you're in luck: there is a 12-acre lake that was formed by the damming of Cascade Creek, perfect for swimming. A nearby bathhouse includes restrooms, dressing rooms, a snack bar and a lounge area with a view of the lake and Moore's Knob. Fishing is permitted year round on the lake for bass, sunfish and catfish. (Anyone over 15 years old must have a NC fishing license.) Fish from the shore, the wheelchair accessible pier or from a rental boat.
On the north side of the park is the Dan River, with ramp access for rowboats, paddling, and tubing equipment. Bring your own, or rent from nearby suppliers.
For those interested in camping, there are 73 sites available for tents and trailers. (RV hookup is not available.) Each campsite has picnic table, grill and tent pad. Drinking water and washhouses with laundry sinks and hot showers are nearby, with group campsite options for larger groups. Vacation cabins are available for week-long rentals in the summer months, and include two bedrooms, a kitchen and a living room. All camping / overnight areas have at least one handicap-accessible option available.
Indoor activities in the visitor's center and Exhibit Hall offer ways to learn more about conservation, local American Indian tribes, and geology. among other things. If you plan to camp, picnic, or need to reserve space for a group activity or event, click here for more information and an online form. While you're at it, check out North Carolina's other 37 state parks, created and maintained by the NC Division of Parks and Recreation. Good times!
May through August, the park gate at Hanging Rock State Park is open from 8am to 9pm. (Overnight guests must be inside the park prior to gate closure at 9pm.) The visitor's center is open from 9am to 4:45pm daily. Swimming hours are Monday 11 am - 5:45 pm and Tues - Sun 10 am - 5:45 pm.