What it is: Hanging Rock State Park is located north of Winston Salem near the town of Danbury, NC. It's about 2-2.5 hours away from Durham, but it was still doable for a day trip. We headed out Saturday morning and drove up. I have to say that the directions were a bit tricky and we made a couple wrong turns, but eventually we made it.
It was the perfect place to take kids for hiking where you still really feel like you're on an adventure, but there are short enough hikes for the little ones. We arrived and there is a great visitors building in the main parking lot where you can get maps, ask questions, use the restrooms, and look at some exhibits. Once we had gotten our bearings, we headed out on the .2 mile Upper Cascades hike to a waterfall, the perfect distance for a 2 year old and 4 year old. The hike had a nice little view and stairs down to a lovely waterfall. Then, we found a spur off of that called the Rock Garden trail that was our favorite part of the park. Just off of the trail there were a whole bunch of rocks we could climb and play around on.
After that section of the park, we were able to pass back by the parking lot for a stop at the car for a snack. Then, we headed off on another short .4 mile hike to check out Hidden Falls and then another .2 miles to Window Falls beyond that. The waterfalls were fun because on all of them we could get right down to the base of the falls and check out everything around there. The .2 miles to Window Falls were a bit more strenuous with quite a few stairs, but we were able to most of the days hiking with the boys on their own power with only a little bit on the last hike where we had to put the little one on our shoulders.
Oh we had a great time, and it definitely satisfied all of my desires for a fun family hike! The boys all had so much fun, and we can't wait to head back for another fabulous day trip. Maybe when they get a bit older we'll actually be able to do the 1.3 mile hike up to Hanging Rock!
What we liked: We loved all of the options for short hikes for the kiddos. Plus, the hikes all had an attraction at the end of it for the kids to look forward to. The boys also loved all of the rock climbing opportunities.
What we would change: Of course, we would change the park's distance from Durham. 2 hours either way is a long trip in one day, but with all of that hiking, hopefully you'll have some worn out kids on the way home and you can sleep in the car. Plus, the directions are a bit tricky once you get off of the freeway, so you really have to be careful and pay attention to the roads. We found our phone GPS really necessary.
Website and other important information:
Address: 1790 Hanging Rock Park Road, Danbury, NC 27016-7417
November - February, 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.
March, April, September and October 8 a.m. - 8 p.m.
May - August, 8 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Camping and cabin guests must arrive prior to closing the hour, after which the park gate is closed for the night.
The park is closed Christmas Day.