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Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Hanging Rock

Posted October 1, 2008 9:26 a.m. EDT

How many of you have been to Hanging Rock State Park north of Winston-Salem. What were your experiences?

The first time I visited was 1994 following a severe ice storm. Sky Five gave us a bird's eye view of the thick wintry coating that weighed down heavily on the oaks and pines splitting thousands of boughs and branches and making a mess of the popular park.

The following year our family hiked and camped at Hanging Rock State Park with some close friends. We had a blast. The kids loved the trails and rocky perches. They also liked the 12 acre lake and old stone bathhouse constructed just after the Depression when the park was born. Hanging Rock has grown in size over the years to nearly 7,000 acres today. It is one of the few places where you can see both Canadian and Carolina hemlock trees standing side by side. Favorite destinations in the park include Devil’s Chimney, Cascade Falls, Wolf Rock and of course Hanging Rock itself.

These are known as the lonely mountains. Some call them “the mountains away from the mountains. Hanging Rock is part of the fractured Sauratown chain. And let’s get the pronunciation right.
Sauratown is pronounced like sour-town. The mountains are not part of the Blue Ridge chain but are not that far away. Thanks to the durability of their quartzite Hanging Rock and nearby Pilot Mountain have stood up to the ravages of erosion in the Piedmont for more than a million years.

From Raleigh you can be in the mountains in a little more than two hours. And while the Sauratown peaks can’t rival those in the Blue Ridge and Black Mountain chains to the west they are still quite impressive. To get there just take !-40 to Winston-Salem and head north on Highway 52.