Sunday, November 10, 2013

Hanging Rock - Wolf Rock - Cooks Wall-Fall Hike


On a sunny and warn Sunday afternoon the FBWG and his hiking companion decided to visit one of our favorite parks.  Hanging Rock State Park is located within 30 minutes of our home and offers in one location all the thrill of a Blue Ridge Mountain hike. Today we took a six mile loop hike from the Picnic Shelter trail to Wolf Rock, visiting House Rock and Cooks Wall Mountain.

After a short but steep incline trail we hiked a .6 mile to Wolf Rock. The Wolf Rock is a series of rock cliffs facing southeast.  It is part of the rock face seen from the city of Winston-Salem.  We chose to access the ridge line trail that links Cooks Wall Mountain on the south end of the park with Hanging Rock Mountain to the north.

From the cliffs of Wolf Rock you can see the skyline of Winston-Salem in the distance.  You also can glimpse some of the late fall colors which adorn the countryside.

The day was warm and the sky was clear offering one of the most pleasant hikes of the season. 

The nicest folks always are hikers.  I struck up a conversation with a fellow from Winston-Salem by the name of Ryan who provided me with some interesting information about the rare Black Vulture which has made Hanging Rock State Park its habitat.

The Black Vulture has a distinguishing gray shiny stripe on each wing and they are believed to be a migratory bird and as such is a protected species.  I bet the FBWG has confused this bird with a hawk. The things you learn while hiking.... From Wolf Rock you can see the peak of Cooks Wall Mountain and the cliffs of House Rock.
Cooks Wall Muntain

Throughout the Hanging Rock Park are interesting rock formations.  This one is a chimney rock.

Leaving Wolf Rock we traveled a nice ridge line trail for a mile mostly the trail began to get steeper we paused an constructed a cairn giving thanks again for the beauty of God's creation.

At the top of the hill, the trail turns to the summit of Cooks Wall Mountain.   At the turn are the cliffs of House Rock.  It was a great place to take a break and catch some rays.  Facing southeast the cliffs provided a great view of the skyline of  Winston-Salem and surprisingly in the distance we could see Greensboro.
 From this perch you can see both the cliffs of Wolf Rock and the summit of Hanging Rock Mountain.
Hanging Rock and Wolf Rock from House Rock

From the House Rock, the trail turns upward toward the summit of Cooks Wall Mountain...a .8 mile trudge....but on a sixty degree day it was a manageable hike.  You know you have almost reached the end of the trail when you find the trail winding through a rock garden meadow.  Near the end of the trail is one of the most scenic overlook in the park.

From this peak is a magnificent view of both Pilot Mountain and Sauratown Mountain.

Blue Ridge from Cooks Wall Mountain

At the end of the trail there is a rock cliff  facing the west and the Blue Ridge in Virgina. I think the highest peak in the distance is Fisher's Peak. A great view of Moore's Knob the tallest of the Saura Mountains also shows the late color of the autumn leaves

Moore's Knob from Cooks Wall
Leaving the peak I could not help but stop at the overlook and take another picture of Pilot Mountain.
Mt Pilot from Cooks Wall Mountain

From the end of the trail we trudged 2.2 miles to the parking lot and along the way I spied this unusual rock formation. Completing the loop we took the trail to connect with the Moore's Knob Trail and exited by the picturesque lake.  We covered six miles and for a couple of hikers who had not been on the trail in a month we are tuckered out.

Any hike in Hanging Rock State Park is a great hike....access is a 9.... trails are 9 and scenery is a 8..... this was a great loop hike as it was strenuous but not brutal and offered many variety of views.  If you can't travel out of the triad and want to experience a hike equivalent to that offered by the Blue Ridge Mountains, take a trip to Hanging Rock State Park...give this hike a 9!

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