Face it, Hanging Rock, prominent knob from which this state park gets its name, is the star attraction here. But at just over a mile, making a beeline from the parking lot to the summit is a little like going for the biggest box under the tree first 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 is paved. Then it downgrades to a wide, even gravel path, then it narrows, gets a little rougher, narrows a little more … . 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’s under the tree? you wonder.

Head back down to the parking lot/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 you’re interested in: 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 trail guaranteed to elude the hordes who visit this popular park. You’ll find one such escape on the Winston-Salem site.

More info: Hanging Rock State Park

Maps: Downloadable here, also available at the park.

Getting there from downtown Greensboro
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 1 hour, 10 minutes from downtown
Time to complete: 2-4 hours
Address: 1790 Hanging Rock Park Road
City: Danbury
State: N.C.
Zip: 27016
Latitude: 36.4119
Longitude: 80.2541