This past weekend, *A* and I took advantage of the beautiful weather by spending Saturday at Hanging Rock State Park in North Carolina. It’s about an hour and a half from our house, and though we’ve hiked in many of the state parks around us, it’s one we hadn’t visited yet.
It’s a beautiful place, and we’re definitely going to go back in another time of year when there are leaves on the trees and things are blooming. As it was, there were quite a lot of people there (it’s not far from several college towns / sizeable cities), which is not our favorite thing ever (we much prefer hiking when it’s quiet and there are few – if any – folks around), but it was still nice. If I can determine that they have flush toilets (a minimum prerequisite for *A*, who loves to camp, but draws the line at pit toilets – she’d even prefer bushes to those things, and I can’t really argue there, but that’s another story altogether), we might camp there later this year. We’ll see…
First, we hiked up the Hanging Rock Trail. “Hanging Rock” is not named after any kind of a famous gruesome death or anything, it’s just a rock column, really, that kind of looks like it’s “hanging” on the side of a rocky mountain. Here’s the view of it from below:
This photo was taken about a quarter of the way up a stone staircase. Before we headed up to the rock, we had to let a ginormous group of college age women, all singing loudly, come down the mountain. *A* noted, after watching the first two clumps of 10 or so, that they were all wearing black leggings. After all of them – there had to be 50 total – passed, they ALL were wearing them. And you could hear them as they trooped off into the distance, shouting at the top of their lungs, as one might caterwaul into a hairbrush at the age of 13, various mountain-themed songs, like “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” Sort of took away from any sense of wilderness I was trying to cultivate, but there you have it. Even all that racket as we headed up to the rock didn’t take away from the view once up there (and their voices faded away to nothing….finally):
This view (above) looks out over the Piedmont, sort of northwest(ish) to Virginia.
Tucker, our trail buddy, with *A*, taking a break at the top (near) Hanging Rock.
A nice lady came to meet Tucker and wanted to take a family portrait of the three of us. 🙂
To the right is actual Hanging Rock, the column from the first photo. It was heavily populated when we were there, but I liked this view through the trees (above).
There’s Hanging Rock itself, to the left, above.
This trail was an out-and-back, so we turned around the way we came and headed to two waterfalls next, Hidden Falls and Window Falls. We walked through a picnic area with two picnic shelters built by the Civilian Conservation Corps – much of the park was built by the CCC, as a matter of fact. (If you don’t know, the CCC, a project of FDR’s New Deal, is a huge interest of mine – hardly a state park (and many national parks) was built that wasn’t at least partially constructed by those guys – we owe them so much!) The first waterfall we came to was Hidden Falls:
It wasn’t huge, but it was a pretty little creek with a drop-off that continued past this photo another 10 feet or so. Tucker enjoyed himself, but stayed out of the water. I think we’ve got the only Lab in America that isn’t a fan of water.
A bit further down the trail is Window Falls, so named because obscuring the view of the waterfall from the trail’s overlook is a rock wall with a – you guessed it – “window” naturally carved out of it:
The window part of Window Falls
Down a stone staircase, you could see Window Falls much better:
Window Falls (above)
Because of all the recent wintery weather, there were lots of melting icicles on the trail near both waterfalls.
One of the several stone staircases down to the base of Window Falls – another 1930s Civilian Conservation Corps project.
We saw lots of families with little kids, and while we definitely have an ache of longing to join the young-couple-with-kid(s) category, it’s also sort of a good time to nosily scout of the kind of equipment they use to tote their wee ones about. We definitely want to get one of those kid-carrying hiking backpacks – we saw several kids in those in varying styles. We very nervously watched a young mom navigating down a steep stone staircase (similar to the one pictured above, but with much more irregular steps) while carrying a very young babe in an infant carrier (the baby was on her front). Definitely not sure-footed enough to do that – not sure how she could see her feet. Mountain goat I am not, this I know.
It was so good to get out hiking – it’s been too long since we were last on a significant trail (last fall I’m afraid to say), and it’s absolutely one of our favorite things. I can’t think of many experiences I’ve had that are better than standing on a mountaintop with your most special person next to you taking in a beautiful view, watching birds soaring and chipmunks skittering about. A love of the outdoors is something we want to impart to our Littlest – there are so many fun things to learn and do outside!
*A* and I have lots more hiking trips planned this spring / summer, with some camping and backpacking sprinkled in there, too. Speaking of camping, we’re most definitely looking forward to upgrading our tent to a roomier version for a very good Littlest reason soon!