Adventure Us: Hinchee Park Part 2

In an earlier post, I mentioned what a cherished spot Hanging Rock Battlefield Park has been for our family. Last year, the area became an even better place for family adventures, 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 forest trail. 

The land has an interesting history. Prior to last year, it had been in the Hinchee family for generations. The Hinchees were long standing pillars of the local community: for decades, the family ran Hinchee and Hinchee General Store, which sat on the busy Hanging Rock junction where roads from Salem, Roanoke, and northward intersected. At that time, Rt 311 followed Dutch Oven Road, on which the parking lot is located, which now dead ends at Mason’s Creek. The General Store stood not far from the current location of the Hanging Rock parking lot. History follows you as you hike up the trail: many of the stone culverts on the old Hinchee Trail date back to CCC days.

Of course, for the dedicated recreationalist, you can now use Hinchee Park as a gateway to access Carvins Cove. At its far end, Hinchee Trail connects to Brushy Mountain Trail of Carvins Cove. But the park offers plenty of opportunities for more low-key adventurers. Our family hikes up the trail have proved exciting in many different ways. 

Hiking in the park last Thanksgiving, we stumbled upon an unexpected treasure trove – a grove of ripe persimmon trees! American persimmons, one of the more unusual fruits found in nature, are mouth-numbingly astringent when unripe, but transform into one of the sweetest fruits when overripe. Our kids, for whom routine snacks are one of life’s great joys, were quite excited with the unexpected bonus snack! 

On that same trip, Hinchee Park also bestowed upon us some interesting fauna. While sitting on a tree trunk gobbling persimmons, one of our boys spotted a salamander in the leaves. The salamander was at a disadvantage due to the cool fall weather, so our son was able to catch and carry home a new pet. After performing a little research, we surmised that it was a Jefferson salamander, and so our new pet was christened Thomas. Thomas lived happily in a terrarium for a few months, subsisting on crickets. 

But Hinchee Park offered us its biggest adventure on our first visit, shortly after it opened. It was a fairly tame family hike, and we enjoyed the forest scenery and encouraged the kids on the mild uphill grade. Just then, one of the boys pointed through the trees and whispered, “look!” I saw nothing at first, but finally realized what his sharp eyes had spotted right away.

Moral of the story: take your kids with you when you explore. You may have to suffer through a little extra complaining and cover less ground, but you just might have a much richer adventure! 

Parking for Hinchee Trail is only allowed at the Hanging Rock parking lot. 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. 

After exploring, 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: Hinchee Park, accessible from Hanging Rock Battlefield Trail, 1918 Dutch Oven Road, Roanoke, VA 24019

Time from Roanoke: under 30 minutes

Activity Options: Trails, creek, flora and fauna!

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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