Hanging Rock State Park is a part of the North Carolina State Parks system, and is one of the most visited of the system. Located near the small town of Danbury, the county seat of Stokes County, it is less than an hour and a half drive from major regional cities like Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Danville, Virginia.
Hanging Rock State Park was created in the 1930's from land donated by the Winston-Salem Foundation and the Stock County Committee for Hanging Rock after plans to develop a private mountain resort succumbed to the Great Depression. Between 1935 and 1942, the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed a 12 acre (4.6 ha) lake and stone bathhouse, a sand beach, picnic areas, and the park road and parking areas.
Hanging Rock State Park is geologically part of the Sauratown Mountain range in North Carolina, with peaks varying between 800 feet and 1700 feet (244 meters to 518 meters) above the rolling plains below.
Flora and fauna
Ecologically, the park has more in common with the North Carolina Mountains due to its higher elevations. Most of the park is covered with hardwood forests primarily consisting of oak and hickory, but is also home to rhododendron, mountain laurel, wild azalea, and several varieties of wildflowers. The forests are also home to white-tailed deer and wild turkey, with opportunities to view peregrine falcons that occasionally nest in the craggy peaks on the park. The park also has two species of venomous snakes, copperhead and timber rattlesnakes, but most encounters are rare with the snakes only striking when provoked.
As with all North Carolina State Parks, all wildlife is protected and collecting plants or animals without a valid permit is strictly prohibited.
Fees and permits
North Carolina State Parks do not charge access fees to enjoy the parks, but some park amenities have a fee to participate:
- Boats (2-person canoes or 3-person rowboats) may be rented for $7 per hour. No private boats are permitted on the park lake.
- Swimming fees are $6 per day for adults (13 and over) and $4 per day for children (3-12) and under 3 are admitted free of charge.
Visitors that wish to climb or rappel in the park must register and obtain an activity permit either at the park office or at the climbing access point. There is no fee for this permit, but access may be limited during crowded periods in the park.
Visitors that want to fish in the park's lake are bound by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission's fishing regulations and all persons over 16 years old must have a valid NC Fishing license.
Hanging Rock State Park offers more than 20 miles (32 km) of hiking trails of various difficulties, 8.5 miles of mountain biking trails, rock climbing, picnicking, and camping. Paddling sports are also available from the park's Dan River Access area. The park's visitor center contains a museum with educational exhibits about the history and wildlife. Free guided hikes are frequently offered by the park's environmental educators.
Camping is available in the park, with 73 tent or trailer sites, 5 group camping sites that can accommodate between 6 and sixteen people, as well as a collection of vacation-style cabins. Rental prices vary based on the date requested, and reservations are required, which are made through the NC State Park's reservation website with non-reserved campsites are available for walk-up reservations on a first-come-first-served basis.
Camping in the park is only permitted in the established campground, and does not offer back-country camping opportunities.