Hanging Rock State Park was one of the first parks I ever visited as a child. Named appropriately as my “home park”, we ventured out for a day-trip just to grab some fresh air on a relatively cooler July Sunday.
Making a visit to the parks office, the Ranger we were chatting with informs us of the “5 Overlooks Challenge” – Obviously we were up for a challenge, so we inquired for more information. She told us that the hike would visit all 5 peaks in the park, in one day, and was roughly 11-miles.
Peak 1: Moore’s Knob
Peak 2: Cook’s Wall
Peak 3: House Rock
Peak 4: Wolf Rock
Peak 5: Hanging Rock
Packs full of water and a couple of Cliff Bars — we were off.
Leaving our car parked at the Visitor Center, we walked on this small side-trail towards the lake and swimming area. We then jumped on the Moore’s Wall Loop Trail (4.3 miles & strenuous). This trail took us to Moore’s Knob – Peak #1 on the list.
On top of Moore’s Knob is a Lookout Tower (named Observation Tower on park map). You can climb to the top of this tower and get a higher view of the surrounding area. It’s nice, but provides absolutely no shade so beware on a hot day.
We continued on the Moore’s Wall Loop Trail until it splits. Taking a left at this split, we then hooked up on the Magnolia Springs Trail (0.4 miles & moderate) which then connects to the Cook’s Wall Trail (1.6 miles & moderate). This trail leads you to Cook’s Wall (Peak #2), where the trail dead ends, and then on the way back, you can check out House Rock (Peak #3).
Just follow and pay attention to the signs, and you’ll make your way no problem. We didn’t get any pictures of the peaks at Cooks Wall, or House Rock, but the view is very similar to the above Moore’s Knob.
At this point, we had hiked about 6-7 miles and were starting to feel just plain worn out. Ginger looks at me and asks if we should finish. I really wanted to just head home, but we had already made it this far. And yet, I have never sweated so much… and I haven’t even mentioned the amount of stairs you will be going up.
We pressed on.
After House Rock, you head back on the Cook’s Wall Trail, which runs straight into the Wolf Rock Trail (1.4 miles & moderate).
Peak #4 at Wolf Rock was pretty amazing. Serene, peaceful, quiet. We ate our snacks here and gained some energy back resting for a bit. Then we headed back on the Wolf Rock Trail, which connects straight into the Hanging Rock Trail (1.3 miles & moderate).
We were now on the home stretch and Hanging Rock was Peak #5.
Enjoying our time here for a while, we eventually made our way back down and to the car. The Visitor Center was now closed, but if you complete the 5 overlooks challenge in one day, you can purchase the embroidered emblem patch. We’ll be back to collect that patch soon…
Looking back on this day, it was definitely a tough hike, but completely worth it. So if you’re up for the challenge – go ahead and get your peak on. 🙂
Hanging Rock State Park Website: https://www.ncparks.gov/hanging-rock-state-park
Park Map: https://files.nc.gov/ncparks/maps-and-brochures/hanging-rock-park-map.pdf