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Riverbluffs Trail at Hanging Rock State Park

December Trail of the Month

The Riverbluffs Trail at Hanging Rock State Park is perfect for everyone. It’s a short hike (1.3 miles) with little elevation variance but incredible views of the Dan River accompanied by the acoustic melodies of the river’s rapids.

The trailhead begins at 1258 Flinchum Rd, Danbury, NC 27016. Follow the gravel road to the trailhead, passing by Dan River Company on your way. There’s lots of space for parking here under a beautiful grove of Tulip Poplar trees. To begin take the skinny trail into the forest where you’ll cross a creek and reach an intersection with Indian Creek Trail. If followed this trail would take you 3.6 miles up to the Visitors Center. Stay to the right here for Riverbluffs Trail. Shortly, you’ll reach the divergence of the loop. Take a left to walk the forested foothills first, or stay straight to get right to the river. Either way you follow will take you back to this spot

Along your walk you’ll see the river moving softly around large craggy bluffs. These resemble the rocky cliffs that can be found 2568 feet up on Moore’s Wall, which is the highest point of Hanging Rock State Park. The bluffs are made of a complex mixture of metamorphic rock that has repeatedly been squeezed, fractured, faulted, and folded. 

Wildlife is a wonderful feature of this trail. When you grab a seat on one of the benches, watch the landscape around you come alive. Songbirds dart in and out of thistles. Birds of prey follow the Dan River’s hunting ground. Take note of the animal tracks in the silt by the river. River Birches dot the landscape and large Sycamore trees reach out over the water’s edge.There are a few small trails off to the side where people have made their way down closer to the water. If you choose to follow one be careful where you step as there are endangered plants in this area such as the Appalachian Golden Banner and Cliff Stonecrop. Additionally the ground here is slick and the water is deep in some areas.

This area is the native land of the Saura people- hence why these are called the Sauratown mountains. The Saura tribe lived along the Dan River for perhaps hundreds of years until European settlers began to arrive in the mid to late 1600s and brought disease with them. To learn more, read about this area’s native people in this article from the News & Record.

Fair warning: Hiking this trail will inspire you to paddle the Dan River too. Check out this page from the Dan River Basin Association and this Blueway Guide for Rockingham County for more information.