ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Hanging Rock State Park, North Carolina: An Amazing Hiking and Sightseeing Experience

Updated on June 20, 2019
Jackie Zelko profile image

My love for nature and hiking has lead me to joyfully experience one of North Carolina's hidden gems.


In the past six years, I have found a love for hiking. I love hiking for three reasons: the exercise, the stress relief, and the experience of being surrounded by Mother Nature’s beauty. Hanging Rock State Park has been the best hiking and sightseeing experience I have had yet. The other mountains I have hiked at can be experienced in one day. Hanging Rock can be a two to three day experience depending on how much you want to hustle during your hike. I do not think that I can ever get tired of it, and here is why.

The Five Waterfalls

Three of the five waterfalls are found in the main area of the state park. These three waterfalls are Window Falls, Hidden Falls, and Upper Cascades. You will have to go through the Hanging Rock State Park entrance, and park in the visitor’s center parking lot. I recommend going into the Visitor’s Center Office to ask for a map of the entire state park. You will be able to see the trails that lead to all five waterfalls that are located at Hanging Rock, including Lower Cascades and Tory’s Falls that are not located in the main area. The visitor’s center also has restrooms and a water fountain for you to replenish your water bottle.

FUN FACT: Visit all five waterfalls in a day and earn your very own patch for $2.00! All you have to do is take a picture at each location, and show it to the person working in the Visitor’s Center.

Map of Hanging Rock State Park
Map of Hanging Rock State Park | Source


This is going to be your longest walk to see a waterfall. On your way to this waterfall, you will approach a wooden sign as you hear and see parts of Hidden Falls through the trees. The left of the sign will read “Window Falls 0.2 miles” and on the right “Hidden Falls”. I suggest seeing Window Falls first and Hidden Falls on your way back. It will be better on your legs.

Distance: 0.6 miles | Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 0.6 miles | Difficulty: Moderate | Source


This waterfall is one of the smaller ones at Hanging Rock and great for kids to experience. It is important to keep a close eye on your children though. I have seen parents not keep a close eye on their children, and their children will run, climb, and slip on the rock. Buying water shoes for your children to wear for this experience could be something well worth investing in to avoid any accidents from happening.

Distance: 0.4 miles | Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 0.4 miles | Difficulty: Easy | Source


One of the things that I love about Upper Cascades is that there is a wooden deck that overlooks the waterfall from high up. There is a lower level and a higher level part of the deck that are great for photos, especially if they are for an engagement photo session. There are also steep stairs that lead you directly to the waterfall where you can lay out on the rocks, and put your feet in the water.

Distance: 0.3 miles | Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 0.3 miles | Difficulty: Easy | Source


This waterfall was named the second most enchanting place in North Carolina (Rakestraw, Emory). A lot of engagement photo sessions are done here, including my own. It is absolutely breathtaking, and the pool of water is so clear. If you go during the spring and summer months, expect for there to be a lot of people playing in the water in the afternoon. The waterfall is not the only place that is great for pictures; the trail on the way there is amazing too. My favorite experience is walking down the stone stairs, hearing the waterfall pouring and splashing, and seeing the views of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance at sunset.

TIP FOR PHOTO SESSIONS: Consider the time of day and the month you want to have your pictures taken to avoid big crowds. I had my engagement pictures taken on a cloudy May afternoon, and there was a decent crowd of people playing in the water there. Luckily, most people were kind enough to move out of the way so our photographer could capture the perfect moments. Your best time to go is either in the morning or in the evening.

Distance: 0.4 miles | Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 0.4 miles | Difficulty: Moderate | Source


This waterfall starts high up and flows down very far. You will not be able to get to the bottom unless you are really determined to. I myself have tried getting to the bottom but upon realizing how steep it was, I decided to turn and climb back up. I do not recommend attempting to go to the bottom unless you know what you are doing.

HIKING TIP: Check out Tory's Den while you are there. It is a small shallow cave, but definitely something still worth checking out.

Distance: 0.3 miles | Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 0.3 miles | Difficulty: Easy | Source
Tory's Den
Tory's Den | Source

Mountain Sights

The first place you can go to for views of the mountains is behind the Visitor’s Center Office. Attached behind the office is a large spacious deck that will give you a close view of the Saura Mountains and a view of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. There are also benches for you to sit on to take in the incredible view while reading the history on the area.

The second place you can go to for a view of the mountains is a hike to the top of Hanging Rock. This trail starts in the back of the parking lot where the Visitor’s Center is located, and the trail is 1.3 miles long. The trail is not that far of a walk, but the difficulty is labeled moderate. I recommend that this be your only hiking done for the day. You will be out of breath, and you will feel the burn in your legs. Since you are hiking to the top, you can expect to be walking up an incline for a large portion of the trail. The hike up might not feel so great on your legs at that moment, but the view you get when you reach the top will make you forget all about it.

Only part of the panoramic view from the top of Hanging Rock.
Only part of the panoramic view from the top of Hanging Rock. | Source

Hiking Tips

Bring/wear the following on your hike:

  • Proper sneakers to prevent injuries and slipping on wet rocks.
  • A swimsuit to play in the water at the waterfalls (for the warmer months)
  • A towel so you can dry off.
  • Plenty of water and snacks to prevent dehydration and fainting.
  • A backpack to carry your things in.

MY FAVORITE ITEM TO HIKE WITH: I love my backpack from Amazon that I bought for practically nothing. It is not water proof, but it is small and light making my hike a better experience. The best part is you can fold it into a pouch, so it is easy to pack in a suitcase or even a purse. I would not recommend this backpack if you are carrying items for an entire family. Instead, you will need a stronger, bigger, and sturdier backpack for your purposes.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      9 months ago from UK

      The photos are top quality and your description and advice are first class. It looks like a beautiful area to visit.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)