While not technically Western North Carolina, Hanging Rock State Park is part of a trio of State Parks along the I-77 corridor in the general vicinity of Mount Airy, North Carolina. Mount Airy was the inspiration for the town of Mayberry from the Andy Griffith Show. Within a short drive from Mount Airy there are three North Carolina State Parks. Hanging Rock State Park is 30 miles north of Winston-Salem NC in the town of Danbury NC. Along with Stone Mountain State Park in Roaring Gap and Pilot Mountain State Park in Pinnacle NC, these parks offer excellent hiking.
Hanging Rock features five waterfalls and the hike to the summit of Hanging Rock, all of which can be completed in a single day. Three of the waterfalls are inside the main park area and the other two (Torey Falls and the Lower Cascades) are a short drive away. The biggest problem is the crowds. It was almost impossible to get a decent shot of any of the waterfalls due to the inordinate number of people. Some of this was likely due to it being Memorial Day. A return trip will likely occur at some point in 2016.
To get to Hanging Rock State Park, you can come in from NC268 or NC89. From NC268, make a right onto Dan George Road and drive 2.1 miles. Make a right onto Moores Spring Road. After 2.6 miles Moores Spring Road makes a hard left and becomes Hanging Rock Park Road. Follow Hanging Rock Park Road to the entrance to the parking area, which will be on the left. It will also likely be full.
Head into the visitor’s center and grab a map. If you’re traveling with younger children who are into the outdoors, ask about the junior ranger program. This is something you can do at any of the North Carolina State Parks. Your child with get an activity book that they can work on during your stay. Check in before you leave with the completed activities and one of the park rangers will issue your child a patch with the logo for that particular park. This was the first patch my daughter earned (she now has 4). It’s a great program that teaches children about nature and how to take care of our parks.