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Hanging Rock State Park, NC

hanging rock state park nc

And yet ANOTHER NC state park. We are just knocking them out! (In reality, these trips have all been very spaced out, I’m just now starting the whole blogging thing again…) Hanging Rock State Park was one of my favorites so far! This was a fun one for us because we camped here. Since this park was about 2 hours away, camping here gave us so much time to explore much more of the park. And it’s so good.

Since Hanging Rock is about 2 hours from us, you could definitely do this as a day trip from Charlotte. There are so many great hikes here, though, that I felt like camping let us really explore more hikes without feeling like we had to rush. There are so many spaces to just climb and walk around, so I’m really thankful we weren’t rushed here.

Camping in Hanging Rock State Park

Know before you go- there is a 2 night minimum stay here. We drove up Friday after Dan got off work and stayed Friday and Saturday night. There are 73 campsites at this state park. I think I reserved this campsite in January or February and there were still quite a few to choose from, so I don’t think this books out too early. Granted. We did camp in April.

The campsites were really nice! They were spaced out well- you were definitely close to people, but we never felt like we were on top of anyone else. We stayed close to the bathrooms which have hot showers. Bonus here- behind the bathrooms, they had large tub sinks to do dishes. I really dislike doing dishes while camping, so this was so amazing to have!

camping in hanging rock state park nc

We camped here in April, and it. was. cold. We were fine during the day- we definitely wore pants and had a jacket with us, but it wasn’t too bad. The nights were so cold, though. We thought we were prepared, but I definitely slept in a beanie and snuggled with Dan (I am not a snuggler when I sleep). So if you go around then, just be more prepared than we were!

Hanging Rock State Park campground was very child friendly! We’ve been camping quite a few times now, and this was for sure the most families we had seen at the campground. And not just families, but families with young kids. That doesn’t matter too too much, but it definitely made us a little less self conscious if our kids were really loud or anything (which they are. They always are.).

Hiking in Hanging Rock State Park

The hiking here was so good! {you can find a list of the hiking trails here} We started relatively early in the morning since we slept literally right across the way, so it was not that busy when we got there. It was fairly busy by the time we got done, though, so as with most any state park, the earlier you get there, the better. They do have a really large parking lot, though, so no matter what time you get there, you’ll probably be able to find a spot.

Hanging Rock Trail

The main hike we did was Hanging Rock Trail. This hike begins from the Visitor Center. When we visited this, it was closed for construction. They did have portable bathrooms, but we tried to go before starting on the hike. Hanging Rock Trail starts out paved, but quickly becomes gravel and dirt. This hike is about 1.3 miles one way, making it just over 2.5 miles roundtrip. It’s steep, y’all. It’s billed as a moderate hike, and I would agree with that. There are lots of stairs which were helpful, but just keep in mind, if you have kids or are just not in great shape (🙋🏻‍♀️), be prepared to take some breaks. It is a really pretty hike, though. Because we hit it early, as well, it wasn’t too crowded, but by the time we left the top, it was getting busy.

hanging rock state park

And the top. Y’all. This hike view is SO beautiful. The top was so gorgeous (and also a tad scary). Views for miles. There are quite a few overlook areas and you can go out pretty far, depending on your comfort level. This is a legit cliff, though. So be mindful with kids. We gave Oliver and Zoey lots of pep talks about staying with us and not running and holding hands. Admittedly I was a *little* anxious when we reached the top. It took a lot for me to let Dan take the kids out to the edge. Once I went out, it is a lot scarier than it looks. But I’ve legit had nightmares about my kids falling off of cliffs, so it’s a fear of mine. {i’m working on it}

hanging rock trail

Anyway. Bring snacks. Bring a camera. Enjoy the views from a few angles. And then beings the descent. Being that the way up was steep, the way down is also steep, just downhill. It went a good bit faster, but we did have to get over more because it was busier.

hanging rock state park nc

Indian Creek Trail- to Hidden Falls + to Window Falls

This hike to hidden falls also starts from the Visitor’s Center. Indian Creek Trail is about a 3.5 mile hike, so we did not attempt to do this whole thing. But after Hanging Rock Trail and some lunch at the campsite, we went hunting for some waterfalls!

The hike to Hidden Falls was about .4 miles in on Indian Creek Trail. It veers off to the right and is a really fun tiered waterfall. The kids had a fun time crawling around here, but it was a little busy, so we only stayed for a few minutes.

hidden falls hanging rock state park
Hidden Falls

The next one was Window Falls. This was .6 miles in on Indian Creek Trail so only an additional .2 miles beyond Hidden Falls. This was one of our favorites! It was so beautiful, and it fell off the rock so that you could go stand behind it (if you didn’t mind a little mist!). Window Falls is names for a hole in the rock that you’ll see as you approach it- it looks like a little window carved out.

Window Falls North carolina
Window Falls

NOW. I’ll let you know about a secret waterfall we found. Go see Window Falls. And then, if you’re looking at Window Falls, hike up to the left. It’s a fairly carved out climbing trail, a lot of people were going up. It curves to the right a bit as you’re walking so you’re almost walking on top of Window Falls. Keep going back just a tiny bit, and you’ll see a little stream trickling. Follow that to the left, go back between two rocks, and voila! An unnamed hidden waterfall! We were the only people that walked back far enough to see this (but it’s not back that far, lol). You can also climb up the side to climb through the window!

indian creek trail nc

I loved this one because I love finding hidden things, and it was fun being the only ones there. It wasn’t a giant waterfall by any means, it was just an unexpected finding and I loved it.

Upper Cascades Trail

This was an add on trail. We decided to do it a bit last minute Sunday morning before we left. It is only .2 miles and begins at the Visitor Center parking lot, so we fit it in pretty easily!

This was a really pretty trail! There were quite a few places to stop along the way. You reach the waterfall in no time, and gosh is it pretty! There is a small observation deck, but also stairs that lead down to the bottom of the falls. From here you can easily walk, climb, and hike around. If it were warmer it would have been so fun for the kids to splash around!

Upper Cascades trail hanging rock
Upper Cascades Waterfall

There’s also a little trail that veers off before you get to the observation deck. We hit this on our way back. It is steep to go down, so be cautious of that. But this takes you further down at the bottom of the falls. There are giant boulders you can climb and crevices you can walk through. We had the absolute best time just exploring around here! Oliver LOVED it so much as he could just…GO. This was the perfect end to our little weekend here!

upper cascades waterfall

What We Missed

I tend to always leave a trip with a bit more a to-do list than when we came in. Hanging Rock State Park was no exception. Quite a few of the remaining hikes are a good bit longer, ranging from 4-6 miles round trip. That’s a fairly long hike for the kids, so we might not try those until they’re a bit older. There is, however, a Lake Loop that’s a 1 mile loop around the lake. We could also bring our kayaks and kayak here which we didn’t know. I’d love to do Moore’s Wall Loop Trail, and Tory’s Den Cave and Waterfall Trail looks so fun and different! We’ll have another camping trip planned here within the next year for sure 😉

And for good measure…more photos!

upper cascades waterfall hanging rock
Upper Cascades Waterfall
hanging rock state park
Hanging Rock Trail
camping at hanging rock state park

If you’re interested in other NC state parks, make sure you don’t miss my South Mountain State Park post– that was another favorite!

hanging rock state park

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