Adventure Us: Hanging Rock and Hinchee Park

Northwest of town lies a low-key spot of woodland beauty that is also steeped in history.

Hanging Rock Battlefield Park sits at the corner of 419 and 311. It lies beside Masons Creek, which flows among small boulders and beneath rocky cliffs. Over the past several years, since our boys were very young, we have enjoyed exploring the cliffs, hiking the Hanging Rock trail, and especially playing along the creek.

Over 150 years ago, this area was the site of Roanoke’s only Civil War action. In June 1864, as the army of Union General David Hunter retreated from losses further east, it was met here by Confederate forces. The brief engagement resulted in deaths on both sides. Following the battle, Hunter continued his retreat north and west, following the path of what is now Route 311. Perhaps the most remarkable fact about the skirmish is that two future presidents were present: Rutherford B. Hayes, then a colonel in the Union army; and William McKinley, a captain. Both were Ohio natives; Hayes would later become the 19th president, and McKinley the 25th. 

The Hanging Rock battle is commemorated by a monument with a list of Roanoke residents who died serving in the Civil War.

In the past year, the Hanging Rock area has expanded its recreational attractions with the opening of Hinchee Park. This 235 acre tract of land, recently donated to the county, connects Hanging Rock with Carvins Cove Reserve via a 2 mile trail. To get to the trailhead, head away from Masons Creek following the signs. Turn left and walk up Virginia Deer Rd, which starts out as a private lane. A few hundred yards up the road the public land begins, as indicated by a sign and a yellow gate. Parking is only allowed in the Hanging Rock Parking Lot.

Together, Hanging Rock and Hinchee Park make for an enjoyable family activity. Of course, for the dedicated recreationalist, these areas can now be used as a gateway to access all that Carvins Cove offers. But for the more low-key adventurers, Masons Creek provides wading, stone-skipping, and boulder-scrambling opportunities, and Hinchee Park is an attractive, secluded hike through mountain woods. We have had some great adventures with flora and fauna at Hinchee Park – more on that in a future post! After spending a few hours exploring both these areas, relax and enjoy a picnic at the tables near the Hanging Rock parking area. Alternatively, choose a nearby restaurant in the Lakeside Salem area. 

Name: Hanging Rock Battlefield Trail, Roanoke, VA 24019

Time from Roanoke: under 30 minutes

Activity Options: Trails, creek, picnicking

Nearby Food: Mamma’s Pizza and other options in Lakeside Plaza shopping mall, Parkway Brewing Company (features food trucks)

Nearby Attractions: Kessler Mill Greenway, Carvins Cove, McAfee’s Knob

More Adventure Us

Cristy Carr

Cristy and her family keep busy writing, tutoring, homeschooling, homesteading, and adventuring in the beautiful Appalachian mountains.
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