jump to navigation

Hanging Rock State Park April 21, 2015

Posted by Jenny in hiking, nature, Southern Appalachians.
Tags: , , , ,
12 comments
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.