Hanging Rock State Park is the Piedmont's favorite outdoor playground with plenty of wonderful recreation and stunning views from the rock itself. The Indian Creek Trail is one particular hike within the park with less crowds and much beauty.
Let's face it, Hanging Rock, the prominent knob from which this state park gets its name, is the star attraction here. But making a beeline from the parking lot to its summit is a little like going for the biggest box under the tree on Christmas Day. There are lots of other good treats at Hanging Rock, but will you appreciate them as much if you rip into Hanging Rock first? Sure, why not. The 1.3-mile Hanging Rock Trail starts innocuously enough: the first couple hundred yards are paved. Then it downgrades to a wide, even gravel path, then it narrows, gets a little rougher, narrows a little more, and at the end, there's some low-level scrambling required to summit. You summit, you scamper around the craggy top, you take in the 360-degree views, fill the memory card on your point-and-shoot. So ...what else is under the tree, you wonder. Head back down to the parking lot and Visitor Center and pick up the Indian Creek Trail. Indian Creek runs 3.6 miles, to the north end of the park at the Dan River, but it's what's within the first half mile or so that should really catch your attention: Hidden Falls and Window Falls. The trail drops like a rock through a rhododendron-clogged corridor to these spritely waterfalls, then mellows afterward. Past the falls the landscape remains gorgeous and you'll likely drop the masses behind. Remember, though, that this 3.6-mile hike down will require a return trip back up. Hanging Rock offers additional trails guaranteed to elude the hordes who visit this popular park.