jump to navigation

Hanging Rock State Park April 21, 2015

Posted by Jenny in hiking, nature, Southern Appalachians.
Tags: , , , ,
trackback
The famous hanging rock.

The famous hanging rock.

My friend Gary lives in the Raleigh-Durham area, and I live west of Asheville. We have made many trips back and forth, but this time we decided to meet somewhere in between. We settled on Hanging Rock State Park, north of Winston-Salem.

It is located in Stokes County near the town of Danbury and not far south of the Virginia border. The interesting rocks are the remnants of the Sauratown Mountains, an isolated range east of the main Blue Ridge complex. The Sauratown Mountains owe their continued geological existence to their being composed of tough, resistant quartzite.

I made a running joke out of the fact that they are not composed of granite. I’ve noticed that whenever people encounter a very tough and ancient-looking rock, they will often refer to it as granite. Actually, the quartzite is even prettier than granite, as it has streaks of white quartz running through it in all kinds of interesting patterns.

The weather forecast called for rain, but Gary and I decided to go ahead with the trip, especially since the park features waterfalls, which would be especially impressive after all the precipitation we’ve been having. And even though the website I looked at featured photos taken in crystal-clear weather, I ended up deciding that this was in fact a perfect day to visit Hanging Rock, enshrouded as it was with thick, atmospheric fog and featuring roaring waterfalls.

We met up at the Visitors Center, where the parking lot was nearly empty, and headed up the Hanging Rock trail. The rock gets its name because it actually overhangs the trail, but rather than making a technical climb up to it, you angle gently around to approach it from a more hospitable direction.

Looking up from below Hanging Rock.

Looking up from below Hanging Rock.

I am enjoying myself in the fog and drizzle.

I am enjoying myself in the fog and drizzle.

We came around to the upper rocks, which are populated by small, twisted pitch pines. They made me think of Japanese brush stroke paintings.

Beautiful and mysterious.

Beautiful and mysterious.

Looking down into the abyss.

Looking down into the abyss.

The pines disappear into the fog.

The wind-sculpted pines disappear into the fog.

We returned to the Visitors Center and made the short hike to the Upper Cascade.

Approaching the cascade.

Approaching the Upper Cascade.

Plenty of water flow.

Plenty of water flow.

Colors of the spring forest.

Colors of the spring forest.

Now we drove to the most famous of the Hanging Rock waterfalls, the Lower Cascade. At the trailhead, you are greeted by a sign with a friendly reminder of possible death.

Always good to keep in mind the possibility of death.

Always good to keep in mind the possibility of death.

The Lower Cascade is truly remarkable, framed by dramatic rock formations.

A truly dramatic waterfall.

A truly dramatic waterfall.

Gary admires the cascade.

Gary admires the cascade.

You could scramble around to reach different viewpoints.

You could scramble around to reach different viewpoints.

Plants cling to the cliffs.

Plants cling to the cliffs.

Finally we returned to the cars and drove down to Walnut Cove to have lunch at a Mexican restaurant. A very pleasant outing, and worth the drive for both of us.

I believe this is a kind of myrtle, taller than the sand myrtle of the Smokies.

I believe this is a kind of myrtle, taller than the sand myrtle of the Smokies.

Advertisements

Comments»

1. Kent Hackendy - April 21, 2015

That park has some amazing features. Great waterfall shots.

P.S. Love the vibrant colors in your new jacket. : )

Jenny - April 21, 2015

Thank you!

2. Dana Bee - April 22, 2015

Beautiful trip Jenny! Glad you got to visit and took time to share your adventure! I have been there, but it was in Autumn. Still need to go back in another season and so Kenny can experience it! ❤

Jenny - April 22, 2015

It figures you’ve been there, Dana—you’ve visited so many great places outside the Smokies as well as within. I hope you have a chance to go back to Hanging Rock before too long.

3. Ingrid Schmelter - April 22, 2015

Some of those photo’s look like traditional Japanese paintings. Fog can be wonderful with a camera in hand.

Jenny - April 22, 2015

I’ve always liked pitch pines for the way they have sculptural shapes on mountaintops. There is a mountain in the southwestern corner of Massachusetts, Mt. Everett, whose whole summit is covered with a forest of stunted pitch pines, many just a foot or so high and extending out in all kinds of shapes along the ground. They are somewhere between bonsai and a typical scrub forest at treeline.

4. elaine carlton - April 24, 2015

I think I need to expand my hiking trips beyond WNC. Beautiful pictures, Jenny, reminding me of the peace and tranquility of hiking in the fog.

Jenny - April 25, 2015

Thank you. I have done practically no hiking in NC east of the eastern continental divide, so this was a refreshing change.

Brian Reed - May 4, 2015

Haven’t been to Hanging Rock but I’m curious to see it now. Those misty pine and rock shots are striking. On the subject of leaving WNC, have you ever been to Congaree National Park? That’s easily my favorite place in the Carolina lowlands. You can wander for miles aimlessly on and off trails through the only extensive bottomland old growth forest left in the East. They actually have a sort of bushwhacking map in the visitor center if you ask for it.

5. Gary Howell - April 27, 2015

the rocks aren’t granite, they are “gneiss” rocks ..

Jenny - April 27, 2015

Gary, this is funny, we have known each other so long and usually understand each other. But you didn’t get the joke I was making about the rocks not really being “granite.”

6. Jenny - May 5, 2015

Brian, that Congaree park sounds interesting. I like their attitude about bushwhacking!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s