“No delusions, just grandeur,” this is an apt description of Hanging Rock State Park from a local map brochure. Located just 40 minutes south west of Martinsville, VA in the Sauratown Mountains, lie some of the most incredible views we have seen in a State Park. There is no camping on the trails but there is a great campground with huge sites to use as a base camp and also cabins to rent.
The loop trail we have mapped encompasses multiple trails with the highlights being Moore’s Knob, Hanging Rock and Cook’s Wall. There are also 5 short waterfall trails in the Park with the Lower Cascades being the best of them, be sure to at least visit this one that is located not far outside the Park gate.
The trail starts at the entrance to the Visitor Center parking lot. Head to the Lake Trail, bear left and in 150 yards cross Hanging Rock Park Road towards the Lake, go about 150 yards and bear right passing an accessible fishing pier and then ending up on a paved path towards the Bathhouse Parking Lot. Go right at the parking lot and then another right heading to the Bathhouse. Take a left onto the wooden and gravel stairs just behind the Bathhouse and then bear right at the Kiosk, you will see a Mountains To Sea Trail sign just after the kiosk. You will be heading to Moore’s Knob on a Red/White blazed trail. Over the next 0.5 miles you will pass 3 trails on the left, ignore the 1st two trails and on the 3rd one bear right heading to the Family Campground, do not go straight towards Moore’s Wall Loop trail. Go 0.2 miles and take a right onto the road, Campsite #40 will be on your right. Road bears to the right, follow Trail Posts for about 100 yards, last post will point you to the left, crossing the road to get back on the trail. This is the Moore’s Wall Loop Trail, we have mapped it counter-clockwise. In 0.1 miles you will cross a creek and the stairs begin!! From this point until Moore’s Knob / Tower, the trail is approximately 75% stairs , you will get a great workout. From the creek to the first overlook is 0.7 miles, you can see Hanging Rock to the East. Go 0.2 miles and the Moore’s Wall Loop Trail goes left and the Spur Trail to Moore’s Knob / Tower goes straight. Take the short spur trail to see some great 360 degree views of the Blue Ridge Mtns to the North, Hanging Rock to the East, Sauratown and Pilot Mtn to the West, and the Piedmont to the South. Return down the spur trail and take a right onto the Moore’s Wall Loop Trail (red/white blaze).
You will reach the Tory’s Den Trail in 1.2 miles, it will be on the right with the white-blazed MST following that trail. Stay straight on the now solely red blazed Moore’s Wall Loop Trail going 0.6 miles and taking a right onto the blue blazed trail towards Cook’s Wall. The trail is named the Magnolia Springs Trail but is not named on the intersection sign. This trail was the only overgrown trail we were on with very thick Rhodendrons. Go 0.4 miles and take a right onto the white blazed Cook’s Wall Trail for some great views at House Rock and Cook’s Wall. This is a 1.1 mile out-and-back, adding 2.2 miles to trail.
Do the out-and back if you have time and then continue on the Cook’s Wall Trail (towards Wolf Rock). In 0.5 miles pass the blue-blazed trail on the left heading to the lake, stay straight, the trail is now the Wolf Rock Trail and is blue-blazed. In 0.2 miles there is a sign for Wolf Rock, great views, but keep you eyes open as there are good views before and after Wolf Rock. Get back on the trail taking a right and heading to the orange blazed Hanging Rock Trail in just less than 1 mile, take a right and in 0.9 miles you will have yet again some more incredible views and rock formations at the top of Hanging Rock on another out and back to top off the day. We made an additional trip early one morning back up to Hanging Rock and caught some incredible photos of Hanging Rock in the clouds. Retrace your steps, staying on the Orange blazed Hanging Rock Trail, returning to the Visitor Center Parking Lot in 1.3 miles.
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Reviews For The Hanging Rock Hike (5 Most Recent)
On Friday, 8/30/13, We hiked the Moore's Wall trail to Moore's Knob and the viewing tower. It was a wonderful hike. We parked in the Bathhouse parking lot, walked past the Bathhouse and lake on our right, following the trail till it split. We chose to turn left which took us up the less refined trail to Moore's Knob and the tower - excellent views. The remainder of the trail was wide and refined with steps. Along the way we stopped at balancing-rock and other out looks, returning via the camp grounds to the Bathhouse. Due to a staffing shortage, the Bathhouse and lake was closed. Scheduled to open for the three day Labor Day weekend, however. Due to the staffing shortage, there was no one to tell us not to climb over the fence and swim, so we did. We had the lake to ourselves. The water was wonderful. As we left, another hiker was climbing over the fence. During our six hours in the park, we saw maybe eight other people. I can't wait to go back. We'll hike Peaks of Otter 9/14-15/2013.
Date of Hike: Saturday, February 04, 2012
We hiked this same loop from the other direction and turned back at House Rock on the Cook's Wall Trail. This is perhaps the most incredible hike of my limited hiking experience. We loved all the climbable rocks. Unfortunately, we hiked it on a cold rainy day, so most of the day, we had a really nice view of the clouds. We're going back in March to hike it in the direction listed here. I can't wait!
My trip report is HERE.
Date of Hike: Saturday, September 25, 2010
This hike basically starts with picking up Moore's Loop Trail at the bottom of all those stairs, with a tricky .05 mile or so getting there from the visitors parking lot. I say it is trickey because there are a couple of trail heads right from the visitors parking lot and intuition would dictate that the hike started from one of these. However, in this case you exit the parking lot towards the lake and pick up from there. Once I fought my intuition and figured that out, the hike directions were pretty simple to follow.
I like that this hike tackles Moore's Loop trail from the steep side first. I prefer to get the elevation climb out of the way first while my legs are fresh, and then recover on the more gradual decent. Although once you get to the tower on Moore's Loop, you will have plenty of time to rest while taking in all the great views. From here you will also have a photo opportunity sitting (standing if you are brave) on Balanced Rock. I should also point out that this hike should be done on a clear day. You can do plenty of other forest hikes on a foggy day.
Once you start your decent from the tower the rest of the hike is a cake walk, but that doesen't mean the great views are over. On this day I enjoyed the views and ate my lunch sitting on Wolf Rock, where I even managed to get a cell phone signal and call my couch potato friends. And it only makes sense to complete the day enjoying the scenery from the aptly named Hanging Rock.
All and all a great hike, but I strongly recommend doing it on a clear day.
Date of Hike: Wednesday, May 05, 2010
Being from the coastal lowlands of Ludowici, Georgia, Hanging Rock was my second time hiking(Pilot Mt. was the first) and I loved every minute of the huffing, puffing, stopping to rest, journey to the top to see the view from the rock and have a pic of that scary moment when I crawled(scared of heights) out onto the ledge to have my pic taken with my husband.  Hanging Rock was the first trail we hiked followed by Hidden Falls/Window Falls.  We wanted to stay all day and hike as many trails as we could but we had our three chihuahuas back at the hotel in Mt. Pilot and our bodies just could not move anymore.  We barely had enough energy to walk the dogs and grab a bite of food before crashing for the night.  The next day the sore muscles made walking downtown Mt. Airy quite challenging before we explored a little of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  But we were determined to make the most of this rare vacation time and even hiked some trails along the Parkway on the way back home.  Hanging Rock State Park deserves an entire day devoted to exploration to fully enjoy its beauty and wonder.  Next time around, I will be better prepared.
Date of Hike: Wednesday, May 05, 2010
Being from the coastal lowlands of Ludowici, Georgia, Hanging Rock was my second time hiking(Pilot Mt. was the first) and I loved every minute of the huffing, puffing, stopping to rest, journey to the top to see the view from the rock and have a pic of that scary moment when I crawled(scared of heights) out onto the ledge to have my pic taken with my husband. Hanging Rock was the first trail we hiked followed by Hidden Falls/Window Falls. We wanted to stay all day and hike as many trails as we could but we had our three chihuahuas back at the hotel in Mt. Pilot and our bodies just could not move anymore. We barely had enough energy to walk the dogs and grab a bite of food before crashing for the night. The next day the sore muscles made walking downtown Mt. Airy quite challenging before we explored a little of the Blue Ridge Parkway. But we were determined to make the most of this rare vacation time and even hiked some trails along the Parkway on the way back home. Hanging Rock State Park deserves an entire day devoted to exploration to fully enjoy its beauty and wonder. Next time around, I will be better prepared.